I am taking a break from social media this week. No Facebook, no Instagram, no sharing, no liking, just pure ignorance about the blow-by-blow activities of all the vague acquaintances that I have acquired in the course of my young life and updates on dreadful news. I stopped Friday morning after waking up, rolling over in bed, and reaching for my phone to waste precious minutes of my time on earth learning that some person I met years ago and I don’t actually keep in touch with is on vacation in Greece. In case you ever want to feel jealous and unsatisfied with your existence, look at vacation pictures from Greece.
I have been trying to wean myself off social media through various measures for a while now, but nothing has worked, so I’m giving abstinence a go. There are some exceptions – Twitter, which I never really got into and doesn’t hold much temptation, I still look at for weather information. I’m also still logged into the Facebook Messenger app, because I’m a part of some group text threads, but again, it’s not something that I ever become more attracted to than straight up texting. Thank goodness I never took up Snapchat to begin with.
It’s the endless scrolling and desire to share random stylized moments of my life that I want to avoid. I don’t think that I would find Facebook or Instagram so evil if I glanced at them once a week or so, but right now it’s a central form of mindless procrastination that sucks away a lot more time than I like to admit. My dream is to live in a world where I spend no more than fifteen minutes each week using these platforms, and unlike my dream to live in Argentina half the year, I think this dream is totally achievable.
Study after study has found that social media can be bad for mental health. But more importantly, I know its bad for MY mental health. Life is rough enough without being able to instantly compare my life to the perfectly curated versions of ever person I’ve ever met, and I don’t feel like I’ve gained much being able to see what these people share.
Plus, when I think back to the best moments of my life, and the most meaningful ways I spend my time, social media never makes it on that list. I want to call and email people more, take the time to write in my blog, deepen connections with real people, and be more present. And I know I’m not the only one – even the Tech editor of the New York Times recently wrote about his experience taking about two months off from all social media and online news(!). My sister-in-law is on vacation from Instagram herself, and one of my best friends from college hasn’t been on Facebook for years.
I’m not sure I will ever pull the plug entirely on Facebook and Instagram, and I don’t mean to dismiss their upsides, but I’d just like get to the point where it’s a thing I use, rather than something that uses me.
(Anyone want to buy me a paper subscription to the NYT?)