Life after social networks
↪️ in reply to My point of view about the pros of being outside mainstream social networks for the last 19 months. —
At the beginning of August 2020 I deleted all my social media accounts, except for YouTube. So, how has it been?
I never intended to make a living solely through the music I write: my work in sound design and production is in a different business. Had I read Steve’s post in 2019, it would have pushed me to consider a few things. Today I don’t judge people that are still juggling with social networks, yet I see any lucubration about how to stay in mainstream social media and save the soul as plain weird. I suppose once you’re out you can’t really understand why anyone would want to continue staying locked in — like an ex-smoker.
Having lived through the full experience of being engulfed in social networks, I know what Steve’s talking about. However, after leaving pretty much everything in the last couple of years — including Apple’s walled garden and the post-Brexit UK — I’ve never felt more liberated and light-weight.
Things that happened after I left social media
- ⏳ I suddenly gained what still seems like an insane amount of free time.
- 📈 My work has massively improved, becoming more productive and focused.
- 📚 I started reading again without interruptions.
- 🏃 I caught up with things I’d been leaving behind because I didn’t feel like I had the time or the required focus.
- 🎧 I learned to use Pro Tools, then after a few months I ditched it and learned REAPER.
- 🎮 I studied Wwise and FMOD (videogame audio authoring).
- 👨🏻💻 I expanded my knowledge of new web dev technologies, migrating two websites from WordPress to Jekyll and from a traditional hosting to Netlify, saving money in the process.
Above all, I stopped knowing whatever CEO billionaire do or say, while I’ve been following savvy people who write about facts, productivity and tech whilst keeping a critical eye on all things related to the so-called “surveillance capitalism”.
I totally understand the argument about having an audience and an amplifier, and I get people when they tell me they can’t leave a particular social network because of the relationships they built there. My escape pushed me to actually speak to the people I used to hung around on those networks. I got in touch, asked for their emails and sometimes their phone numbers.
I now talk to them asynchronously and it feels genuine, real. We have stuff to discuss about, without the usual oh yeah, I saw it earlier on Facebook. I nurtured my email newsletter and stayed in touch with a larger amount of people than expected through either email, newsletters, RSS and sometimes Telegram or Signal. Finally, if my contacts came from Bandcamp, I followed them there. The vast majority of people who left social media reports the very same conclusions.
On the other hand, I can’t understand how people can actually enjoy having their time, attention and focus snatched by young-white-male-dominated mega corporations. Especially knowing how they make their money through selling personal data, reprogramming the social behavior of millions while altering entire democracies in the making.
Going back to Steve’s article, I keep asking: what if these soulless machines stopped working? We all remember the fast demise of MySpace; what would happen to that audience amplifier? How would people manage to keep going on as musicians who want to make a living and stay independent? I too remember that tiny window around 2007/2008 where the web 2.0 seemed such a wonderful promise, only to be snatched and centralized by these awful behemoths that Facebook, Twitter and Google became.
My answer was, and still is: have your own space on the internet.
On 10 march I re-joined Mastodon, as an experiment. I did try it five years ago, to no avail. I’ll be blogging about it in the future, but I immediately understood why everyone says it’s not Twitter. It sure feels like a totally different space.