A Social Media Confession

Last night, my phone died.

I was minding my own business, checking my tweets, when the screen suddenly went black.  It’s now stuck in “recovery mode”, and every time I try to restore it, it gets frozen at the exact same point in the process–the Apple logo and blank loading bar.  So close, yet so far.

I panicked.  All those photos, all those voicemails, all those texts I wanted so desperately to save.  My hand kept twitching to pick it up and check my Facebook, to tweet about how mad I was that my phone wasn’t working, and the next open Genius Bar appointment wasn’t until the next afternoon!  What was I going to do until then?!

I realized I have a very serious problem.  I’m addicted to social media.  And my phone.  But mostly social media.  Realizing this has disenchanted me a bit to the love affair that we’ve shared together over the past six years (longer if we lump in the whole online journal fad).  Here are four things I’ve been considering lately:

Social media leads us to believe incomplete pictures.  The members of my generation have become experts at self-marketing.  We’re pros at taking flattering photos of ourselves, of crafting interesting or funny status updates, of compiling a profile that reflects only what we want others to see.  Of course, I experience the bad along with the good in my own life everyday…same as everyone else, but I can’t help but believe the perfect picture that some of my friends paint of their lives.  It falsely leads me to believe that I’m the only one having a hard time.  I have had thoughts that went a little like this: “Gosh, she’s so funny/pretty/adventurous, and I am such a fraud.”  Guess what?  She’s not perfect.  And I can be funny/pretty/adventurous, too.  I am not a fraud.  I am a real person, and so is she.

Social media can be very harsh reminders of everything that I’m not.  Twitter reminds me how unproductive I’m being as everyone tweets about all the great and interesting blog content they’re churning out everyday (which I genuinely enjoy reading, by the way).  Facebook reminds me how single I am, as there seems to be a daily onslaught of engagement and wedding photos.  LinkedIn, of course, simply reminds me how underemployed I am as I see friends update their profiles to broadcast their new, impressive job titles.  Some days social media just mocks me in this way.  It’s rude.  And I just let it happen.

Social media encourages surface relationships.  I’ve extolled the virtues of Facebook and Twitter for the ability to stay in contact with old friends and meet new people.  But I have to be conscious about the types of relationships these really are.  After a semester in Oregon where I had no cell phone and very limited internet, I learned how to be intentional about choosing and subsequently pouring into relationships.  Somehow, when your only source of contact with the outside world is handwritten letters, you realize just who is willing to invest that time for you and for whom you are willing to do the same.  Sure, you have fewer friends, but those friendships are deeper and mean more.  Facebook is the anti-Oregon.  It allows me to keep in touch with everyone, but only on the surface level.  I’m tired just thinking about it.  Letters are so much more fun than a wall post anyway.

Social media is a total time-suck.  Seriously, I waste so much of my time on Facebook and Twitter.  What would I do if I allocated the time I spend on those websites to something else, like reading or writing or running or cooking (ha, I know, me cooking…what a joke).  How about finally filling out that grad school application?  How about finally taking that yoga class that I got as a Living Social deal months ago?  How about investing in serious, in-person relationships?  How much will I really be missing in my online world?

So this is me saying goodbye to social media, at least for a little while.  Sayonara, Klout score!  Ah, how long I’ve obsessed over you and how little sense you make.  I’m beginning my own social experiment.  It’s going to be hard.  I have already witnessed or thought of at least 10 things that have my fingers itching for Twitter.  But I’ll still have e-mail, I’ll still have texts and calls, provided I get my phone fixed ASAP, I’ll still have snail mail.  So, go ahead and use one of those.

What are your reasons for using or not using social media?

Have you been able to police the amount of time you use on social media sites?  How have you accomplished that?

Side note:
It took me hours to bring myself to publish this post because I
just
wasn’t
ready
to give it all up yet.

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20 thoughts on “A Social Media Confession

  1. Ditto your entire “Social Media can be very harsh reminders of everything that I’m not” section. You’re not alone there, friend. I simply try to stay off the Internet as much as possible. If I’m writing, it doesn’t need to be connected. And if I’m doing research, that usually sucks my attention. Good luck with your social media fast of sorts!

  2. So you’re telling us this via social media, eh? 😉

    I’ve thought about this — I realized I was addicted to FB in Oregon. I was going to go off FB the whole semester. I lasted a month and a half (which was still a long time, gosh darn it). I’m so intrigued by this question that it’s motivating some of my research, and maybe my thesis. And… I was going to come up with something brilliant to say, but I’ve only had one cup of coffee and I’m up to my eyes in grading, so it’ll have to wait.

  3. I am right there with you. I told myself Saturday night that Sunday would be a no Twitter, Tumblr or even Bloglovin day. Bloglovin was mostly easy to stay away from, but twitter, instagram and tumblr were a little harder because they are on my phone. I just realize over and over again though that I am reading nothing of importance on twitter. I mean, it’s good for some fun on the side but my twitter stream is really just a time suck. I think I know my friends because of what they tweet and post on facebook but I don’t
    A couple of weeks ago I deleted the Facebook app of my phone so I wouldn’t check it every hour. I still can go through my browser to find it but I definitely don’t do it as much.

    I’m with you, stay strong. I think deleting my twitter app is next.

    • Sascha– Thanks for spreading the word about this post! That’s definitely one useful thing about social media that I miss already…being able to share blog posts with my platform! Thanks for your comment. It made me smile 🙂

  4. Agree with pretty much everything you said… so far, I’ve been off of Facebook for nearly two months and you know what? It’s making stuff a lot more clear. Hope everything’s still going well for you 🙂

    • I’m actually back on social media for a bit because I’ll be doing a giveaway on my blog in the next couple of days (be on the lookout!), and it’s been SO hard not to get completely sucked back in. Clarity is such a good way to describe it. I find I’ve been a lot more content since giving it up. So interesting, isn’t it? Thanks, Erika!

  5. I once gave up Facebook for Lent in my final semester of my senior year. Yesterday had me wishing I could do that all over again. Alas, part of my job description is social media management, so my wages depend on it. Since I can’t stay away from it, I’m committing myself to being more positive through it. No angry tweets, no Facebook rants. And my blog is MY blog, so I don’t have to write posts and churn out “10 Ways to Blahblahblah” posts every other day the way other bloggers do. I’m trying to focus on being the same me wherever I am – on and offline. I hope your social media fast is improving your outlook on life. I know that when I gave up Facebook for 40 days I was extremely tempted not to go back. Keep blogging! I love reading your stuff.

    • Such great advice to be “the same me wherever I am – on and offline.” It’s so hard for a person who works in social media or is even just a recreational blogger (like me) to give it up completely. That’s a great way to try to attempt some balance in it all. Thanks for the encouragement, Bethany, and for always having something great to add to the conversation!

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