More and more, studies are showing that social media platforms are doing more harm than good, especially for chronic users.
For the last year or so, I have struggled with my decision to maintain my little profile in the vast space of social media (particularly Facebook). On several occasions I deleted my account, only to reactivate it days (or weeks) later. At my longest, I kept my profile deactivated for over a month.
I know, I've done it before so what makes this time any different? Because this time I'm seriously driven by a need to better myself (and make better use of my time). I truly feel that stepping away from the false platform for 'social interaction,' for which social media has become, is my driving force.
Here are my reasons for leaving social media (for good):
1. I value true (real life) interactions.
Let's be real: social media platforms are sort of like the virtual worlds for which people become whoever they want you to see (and usually once you see some people for who/what they really are, you wish you hadn't!). If I wanted to continue to make friends in a 'virtual' world I'd just pop The Sims in or try my hand at Second Life. Call me old fashioned but I value the real experience of actual telephone conversations, board games in person, movies at the theater, and a face I can look into as I speak (as opposed to, say, emoticons or those highly edited profile pictures).
2. Everything is fake.
Hence, the virtual world aforementioned. Everyone has the perfect life. The ideal marriage. Everyone has the clothing ad kids and the well-manicured lawns...and the riches...all the riches of the world! I have always hated dishonesty and social media portrays dishonesty in it's truest form. People speak lies like poetry and exaggerate the details of their mundane lives as if they were fulfilling the role of some reality TV starlet. Profiles and information people post are just so...superficial and narcissistic (I don't understand how anyone could need THAT much attention, but some do). People are so greedy for likes that they spend insane amounts of time snapping provocative (or just weird) photos, writing eloquent status updates, and 'showing off' that it's enough to make a person lose their lunch.
3. It's a complete time-waster.
Remember all the time I just mentioned that people waste on their profile pictures and status updates? Still there are others who chase statuses as if missing one would be detrimental to their ability to survive. They have to be right on top of everyone's updates. Chronic social media users feel almost obligated to like, comment, then re-comment on every single thing that comes in contact with their wall (or their freinds' walls). Let me be brutally honest: anyone who does this might as well just jump into a void for a majority of their days. If you stop to think of the vast amount of time that is wasted on social media, you'll probably start feeling really depressed about your life (or the lack of time you spend on it). There are so many other, more beneficial and enjoyable things to do than social media (take a class, learn a hobby, spend time with your family...to name only a few).
4. Social media makes you feel bad about yourself and your life.
It's true! Because people exaggerate the brilliance of their days and the never-ending happiness and excitement of their lives, you'll start to wonder if maybe your own life is lacking. Let me just fill you in unless you didn't see it before: they are exaggerating and lying! People want you to see and read what they want you to think about them, which usually isn't the exact truth. Social media is full (its brimming!) with people desperate to impress, show-boats vying for the attention of people they don't even know, and still others who just lie because they enjoy the mere act of dishonesty. Their lives are just as common as your own. And, yes, it's totally normal that you didn't go on a three week vacation for your lunch break! Most of us don't. Just as well, have you ever posted a really important piece of your life in a status no one (or very few) liked? Made you feel pretty unimportant, didn't it?
5. The insane amount of nonsense (and unpleasant people) that you have to put up with.
Let's speak in terms of drama. You know, the posts full of rants. Or the huge paragraphs where people air their dirty laundry. Or how about the posts that people write solely for the purpose of bashing another person (probably in a desperate attempt to feel better about themselves). Or the high school classmates that you have absolutely have nothing in common with, yet tolerate just because of the commonality of a graduating class year. Let's not forget the political arguments (especially with the ignorant and uninformed people). What about crazy relatives or ex friends who just get some kind of diabolical kick out of looking at your photos (shiver). Yes...all of that (and more) that you will NEVER have to see again once you deactivate your account!
6. The breach of privacy.
You post a silly picture that only you and your so-called friends can 'view' and next thing you know, someone has posted it somewhere else...somewhere where you cannot delete it! I had this happen to me once with a poor soul whom decided he was in love with me and made all kinds of Facebook banners proclaiming how great of friends we were. Really...social media can be scary that way! And people you don't even know, know who you are! I'm sure the attention-seekers and those desperate for validation just love this aspect of social media, but for most of us I think the idea that a stranger could pick you out in a crowd (based on your profile picture) is concerning! Just as well, we are all becoming tools on platforms like Facebook, where our likes are being calculated and analyzed for the consumption of money. Have you noticed the ads that pop up on the right-hand side? They are highly based upon things and statuses you have liked in the past. I don't know about you, but I never gave anyone permission to use my profile in a statistical analysis for monetary gain! Not even your private stuff is really private anymore and so I can't validate a reason to stick around with a website that I can no longer trust with my personal info.
7. I'm not going to miss it at all!
I'm going to be happier without it. If you would read (and think about) the broad extent of everything I mentioned previously, you'd probably be astounded by the amount of unnecessary bullshit that you deal with on social media. It's just not worth it for me! I want my life to belong to me again...not left to the limbo of some perceived brilliance (or boredom) of a status post that people are going to forget right after reading, anyway. Now that the Facebook account is deactivated (that's what I used), I'm going to free up a lot of time for reading, working on my own writing, spending time with my family and making this website you're reading (my nonprofit independent press and zine) a more amazing place to visit!
Perhaps my truest, and most significant, desire to give up social media is the feeble gesture to get back to a simpler, more innocent time. Have you ever watched sitcoms or old movies (from the 70's and 80's) where people actually spent time together instead of sitting face-to-face while simultaneously looking down at their cell phones? I long for those times. When saying something meant that you actually meant it. When friends were actually friends, not little photo boxes at the front of some internet webpage. I think the world was a whole lot more beautiful before the whole technology craze overtook common sense and the need for human contact.
What about you? Do you use social media? Are you convinced it's worth it to be rid of it? I will go back eventually to rescue my photos from obscurity but I'm pretty sure I will never be dealing with social media again. It's already drained many a good mood for me (maybe I'm too sensitive, but hey, we're all different). But can you say, with all honesty, that social media has NEVER left you in a foul or aggravated mood? Can you say with one hundred percent accuracy that you have ever read one status message that helped you grow personally, financially, or spiritually? If so, I'm betting the occurrence was a rare one!
In any event, if you are user who remains to stay, I wish you happy tweeting, status posting, and profile tweaking!