I’d like to write this blog post for anyone who wants to move away from social media, outlining my experiences, benefits, and sacrifices.
It’s entirely possible to give it up and live well. Just be aware that some sacrifices come with that decision.
Basically, I occasionally look at Minds and listen to videos on YouTube. Sometimes I read Medium articles. I’ve had a couple more social media accounts, but I don’t use them anymore. Other than that, I never really got on board with the whole social media craze.
Reddit was the big one, though. There have been entire weekends of my life spent waking up, browsing the site, eating when I needed to, and then going to bed. Not good. I’ve wasted enormous amounts of time on that site throughout the last decade, knowing full-well I was playing an online slot machine. Something about the mechanics of the website made it really hypnotizing to me.
1) pull the crank, the next page loads
2) 25 marbles roll out for me to collect, some are more valuable than others, learn to quickly identify the ones worth more
3) each marble has a story behind it in the comments, which could make it worth more, check that too
4) every now and then, a really valuable marble comes along that brings a lot of value to my life – a jackpot
5) rinse and repeat, you never know where the next jackpot will be
My attention span and efficacy have generally returned after quitting reddit and toning down my YouTube use in 2018. There’s also a warped perception of the world that comes from the cynical leftist mindset of the userbases that I picked up from them. That level of programming takes years to flush out (Businesses are not evil, wealthy people are the most generous people, those who grew up with better life opportunities shouldn’t be ashamed of it, poverty doesn’t equal nobleness and often breeds incompetency, the “failure is a good thing” mentality is mostly just an excuse, and the world isn’t as cynical and power-driven as it seems).
I’m able to read much faster.
I can read and write longer passages than my peers.
My critical reading skills and ability to correctly interpret speakers’ main ideas outrank my peers’.
My attention span typically lasts for 2.5 hours.
I don’t have social anxiety.
I feel envy, but not jealousy.
I’m more likely to dig deeper than others when researching news stories or topics of interest.
My privacy has not been violated.
I don’t feel a sense to keep up with the Joneses.
Being unaware of what my peers are up to leads to more interesting conversations.
My phone as well as desktop computer are generally pretty quiet.
Outside of business reasons, I have no issues with traveling without my phone (and if I declare myself “closed” such as on weekends then I’m comfortable being away from my phone throughout the entire day)
I procrastinate much, much less.
I’m able to make commitments easier and stick to them than my peers (I believe this is social media related).
I have fewer friends.
It’s much more difficult to get in contact with others.
It’s significantly harder both meet and stay in contact with others.
I get invited to less happenings (social or business).
I am less informed of activity in my local area that doesn’t get to me via word of mouth or news.
I don’t have the same networking opportunities as others (e.g. it’s more difficult for me to sell something or ask for help with a project).
I can’t follow the actions or campaigns of elected / important officials that govern me.
Others browsing their phones or replying to messages next to me has become infuriating and rude to me, regardless of excuse.
I sometimes have no way of enforcing that friends or contacts will be at a certain place at a certain time. This very often leads to others not showing up or making last minute excuses.
Time that would be spent on social media goes towards other things (both good and bad).
I feel a general sense of content disconnect with large “communities” (e.g. my nation, my state, my race, my gender, etc.)
I check messages, phone calls, and emails on my own terms, which leads to both good and bad outcomes.
I am not bounded to hold true to the character of any online avatar I created. This allows me to be myself at the cost of most people never knowing who I am, which can be tough for business reasons.
Tips and Tricks / Advice / What to Expect:
* My friends were not used to having to contact me manually. Things like Facebook groups are the norm and people often forget who isn’t on the invite list because they assume everyone has an account. I was invited to events less as a result.
* I hear people talk about boredom when they break their social media addictions (as well as drug/alcohol addictions). I’ve experienced this myself when quitting reddit. After about a month, the boredom and restlessness went away.
* The most addicted people are the ones who bargain and try to use social media and other vices “in a more productive way.” Sure, that makes sense in theory, but I’ve never seen it executed well – ever. Those I’ve seen who are able to control their [blank] usage know when to set hard boundaries and practice self-discipline because they have a general understanding that what they’re trying to control has costs that outweigh any benefits. It’s an odd way of looking at it since I’m not religious (in a spiritual sense), but social media use is a SIN that I’m dancing with.
* I didn’t realize it until after I left leave social media and then browsed it again a few months later, but some social media sites (reddit and Facebook are the ones I used) are very, VERY stimulating and fast. When I was quitting reddit, I needed to impose a 20 minutes per 24 hour limit (Leechblock) because any more than that and the way my mind was thinking would change. It was something I could actually feel (I used to practice meditation, so I’m able to tell when my mind goes out of focus).
* Sites like Reddit, Tumblr, and Facebook are not places people login into when they procrastinate. The websites themselves cause the procrastination.
* I often have to rely on text and phone calls only to stay in contact with others. If I plan to meet up with someone, the best long term strategy is to choose a specific time and place and NOT remind them and NOT confirm with them before I leave. More often than not, they will fail to show on their first or second time. If this happens, I contact them with a “I’m here, where are you?” after I’ve arrived, and hopefully the guilt will prevent the same thing from happening again. if I’m confirming the meet up, it’s too easy for others to back out in the last minute by a lame excuse (or something they’ve known about for a long time). I try not to give them that opportunity. My goal here is to let them know that just because they don’t see my avatar on their Instagram feed doesn’t mean I don’t exist.
* I rely on meetup groups, email, and paper signs / bulletins in my neighborhood. The world feels smaller but more real and close. This also means I can afford to not care about many hot-button issues that don’t effect me (i.e. I can finally realize to myself that things like Christchurch or Charlottesville happened “way over there” instead of in my living room on my YouTube feed).
* I see the internet as a tool to get information, not a place to go to hang out. This is probably the factor that has kept me from other social media websites and apps.
Here are some ways I stay informed of current events without social media:
* It’s important to stay informed, but not at the level of detail social media covers it. I open an app with state news and international news when I wake up. I check state news for any headlines/stories that effect me in some way, and I scan international news for major headlines (e.g. someone went to war or a major disaster) and that’s it for me. Every so often, I’ll feel out of touch and begin reading about things or events in retrospect.
* Current events often mimic top-down discussions and happenings. Every few months, I’ll get curious and check Wikipedia for what Supreme Court cases happened recently. Things like that keep me informed, not the news or social media.
You can stay informed of local laws in your area with websites like https://www.followthemoney.org/ (although followthemoney isn’t as great as it used to be since it used to have each voting decision for each bill for each congress member) or https://www.congress.gov/
* Lawyer 2 Lawyer is my favorite podcast. It focuses on picking apart the legality of current events. Since they’re lawyers, they often play devil’s advocate with each other. https://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/lawyer-2-lawyer/
* If you want to stay informed on elections, visit the party’s official websites and read through their programs. Twitter is horrible for keeping track of politicians. They’re just as susceptible to the “social points” game as anyone else, and it’s probably not even they themselves running the accounts anyway.
* Reading papers or reports. Journalists will SOMETIMES have read through the reports they cite, but often it’s cited just as a way of making their opinions look more legitimate than they actually are. I’ve seen journalists go completely against the point of these studies/reports they cite like they didn’t even read them – maybe the abstract at the most. Why get your information through a middleman? Just read the thing yourself.
* If a current event or news story doesn’t directly and immediately effect me, I give it time to “cook” because breaking news is noisy, biased, and chaotic. Everyone out there is telling me what to think. If the story is deemed important enough, people will look back on it after the dust has settled.