Like plenty others, I’m finally leaving social media, and by that I mean Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest and Reddit. This post is a personal point of view, it’s not intended as an exhaustive analysis on what is going on with social media, nor am I trying to convince anybody.
Why leave social media?
I’m redirecting my attention and time to something more productive and fulfilling. I believe the term social media is an oxymoron.
To me, its toxicity has got to a point of no return — not to mention the deliberate addictive mechanisms, their self-declared aim to hog our time as much as they can, and the massive problem with personal data. I don’t even want to go down that rabbit hole.
The thought process was all about: how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible? This means we had to give you a dopamine hit every once in a while.Sean Parker, former Facebook president
All the hate
The relentless promotion, by every social media company, of hateful content such as misogyny, homophobia, racism, and more. The thick nutters peddling debunked conspiracies all day long and getting rewarded for doing that — I’m talking about holocaust deniers, anti-vaccines and other dangerous idiocy. Not to mention the sheer amount of highly controversial and polarizing material.
It’s infuriating to the point of leaving me angry all day long. I also don’t want to examine the depressing long list of accusations of altering the course of major elections.
I used to be an avid reader and writer. Over the last ten years, both activities have reduced to a bare minimum. I don’t need to check the mediocre statistics in my Kobo reader: I’m painfully aware of the situation.
The decision of leaving has been brewing for a long while. Because of the release of my concept album last year, I thought I had to ride the social media train for as long as I could. I have no idea about whether or not that was a good idea, the crucial point is how I allowed myself to be blackmailed into staying put.
Bots, trolls & keyboard warriors
Here’s a rare footage of people on social media, arguing about crucial differences.
Behavioral change, by design
Listen to Sean Parker (former Facebook president) and Chamath Palihapitiya (former early senior executive at Facebook), a spine-chilling discussion about how Facebook, and by extension social media, was designed to be as addictive as it could, and is now ripping society apart:
At the moment, I’m back to the roots. I’m blogging again, while interacting with other writers like I used to do for most of the 2000s. It’s one of many direct ways to establish a connection with friends and strangers alike.
When I want to know what other people are up to, I reach out by email or text, I sign up to their newsletter. I’m having conversations.
In a way, it’s very similar to attending a live concert, avoid shooting pointless videos and just enjoy the spectacle. Or watching a beautiful sunset without having the urge to take a picture and think about hashtags. Or having a nice meal for the sake of it. You get the gist.
How about the business?
If anyone is in a similar situation as mine — a producer and musician running a small music business — I’m sorry I don’t have a recipe yet. What I’ve done so far is stop blackmailing myself into believing that social media is essential to my career.
I’m trying to build stronger relationships in the real world instead. Reach out directly to people. Stop thinking that multinationals handling and centralising all my communications is a good thing. I quit curating a fake persona that has no connection with the real me.
I still don’t know what the lives of my ‘followers’ really are. What is really going on with them? The point is I’ll never know. I opened up with a few of them, and received enthusiastic reactions. Like it’s something completely out of the ordinary.
No, it’s not like going off-grid
The most common reaction I get when I tell people I’m leaving social media is:
I think I know why you’re doing it. Bold decision, I admire you. I’d do it too if I could.
Ironically, this mirrors how people reacted ten years ago, when my wife and I announced we were leaving our country to move to the UK. And, similarly to what I used to reply at the time, I don’t think it’s a bold decision at all. On the contrary. The only way this can be seen as courageous, is if people see the addiction and realize they can’t get out of it.
Of course, plenty of people are genuinely enjoying social media, no matter what. I’m not judging. Millions claim they love smoking cigarettes too.
Another common motif is that I’m supposedly going to become a hermit. To put things in context: in 2020, 3.96 billion people—51% of the entire world population—are using social media (source: We Are Social). For the very first time, there are more people using these tools than do not. Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean that the whole 51% are active on social media, and the spike is most likely another side effect of COVID-19 and lockdowns.
That’s not the point though: I find it ridiculous to attach a hermit label to almost 4 billion people. Especially when I can be found in so many ways.
Social media, digital overload and behavioral modification
Here are a few resources:
Your phone is trying to control your life
Find out more about Tristan Harris.
Quit social media
More about Cal Newport here. I’m currently reading Digital Minimalism.
Social media is ruining your life
Here’s a short one:
Where to find me
If you already have my phone number, you can reach me on Telegram or Signal, or plain old SMS. If you have my email, I read them on a daily basis, and I respond.
I spent the last few days (re)building bridges with people I want to keep in touch with. If you’re interested in knowing me better or having a chat, get in touch and I’ll respond.
To simply stay up to date with what I’m doing, the best way is to sign up to my newsletter. Not only you’ll receive my updates in a short digestible format, but you can also reply and start a conversation from there. I will actually listen to you and be available to discuss anything.
Thanks for reading. I’m sure I’ll be posting a follow-up in a few months or a year. Although unlikely, I might end up changing my mind. For now, I’ve been experiencing a few positive effects already.
I currently am:
- Reading multiple books at the same time, and chewing through my ‘read later’ list like I haven’t done in years.
- Feeling less burdened and way less angry than usual.
- Having deeper conversations with a group of people larger than my usual circle of close friends or family.
- Extremely productive — I migrated two websites in a week, along with the full restyle of both at the same time, and recorded the bass for a new song.
What about you?
I’m keen to hear your experience about this topic, whether you’ve left social media or not.
Credits: featured image by pixabay.com.