Social media – To leave or not to leave?
If it doesn’t have an internet presence, does it exist?
Ah, the validation we seek. I’d been pondering over social media for a long time – whether I should leave it and make more of time, its positives and harms etc and until mid 2015 I think Facebook, for me, was the big one. I’d actively spent probably hours look up people’s experiences of leaving social media (or, more impressively, people that managed to leave the internet in its entirety) and de and reactivating became almost a weekly ritual. Take from it what you will, in Summer 2015 I decided to take the plunge. I put a status up that I would be deleting the account, requested my data from Facebook (and wow. When you actually see all the years conversations, friends lists, the whole shebang, it’s pretty creepy stuff) and deleted it.
As with most things, it is what you make of it. Maybe some people have a very passive approach to social media, and for them this is a non-issue. And I respect and kind of envy that. For me, I have a tendency to go through extreme all-or-nothing phases. That is why deactivating was never the same as getting rid because it would bug me, knowing that it was still there, even if in dormancy, and a variety of factors considered – it had to go.
I mean, honestly go through your friends list and see how many people are just there because, or in case, rather than having any sort of role in your lives. After leaving it, who do you still keep in touch with? And if you came back a long while later, who would you actually try to connect with, or would try to connect with you? I suppose the reality that we don’t like to say is, the vast majority accumulated over the years don’t really care for you – you were just there making up the numbers and kind of remained there.
Of those hundreds/thousands, there may only be a fraction that you end up connecting with second time around for whatever reason – maybe its you, maybe its them, maybe both. And even of those fraction that make the cut second time round, a further smaller fraction that you actually make active reciprocal efforts with. Maybe this is just my personal take based on my experiences, but I’m sure to some extents, if we are honest, at least parts of the unhealthy behaviours it encourages will resonate.
I mean think about it. You accumulate friends or companions on a platform that over time, many become practically strangers – and if there is no real connection or substance it is pretty much mutual stalking. And the weird thing is, sometimes you can see a post or something subtle that even subconsciously may cause you to garner ill-feeling or some sort of judgement that would affect your outlook on a person – an ill-feeling that may never have existed if you hadn’t had connected.
I don’t know why, but this whole phenomenon really intrigues me. I mean, when you think about it all, it’s pretty petty and insecure. Questionings and paranoia of connections, or feelings of inadequacy when looking at your peers carefully constructed profile of greatness in awe (of course, because most show you the best bits, as you do too.) Seeing someone post something that offends you (maybe through ignorance, or some form of unintentional bigotry), constructing an image in your mind of how this person is, who you may never have actually have had an issue with in real life.
And of course, there is the ‘likes’ and the fact that sometimes, something posted was written in a calculated and particular way in order to try to garner more likes, more validation. Following this, refreshing or checking back to see who liked it or commented.
Or how about the anxious post that you are worried to put on because of how you may be perceived….because lets face it, most of us exhibit different behaviours in work, compared to how we behave with family, and compared to with friends. For me personally, these are worlds in which I am quite happy to have as distinguished entities, and is not for me to reveal all elements of my character to all people I know. Does that make elements of me hypocritical? Most probably, but a lot of the social media culture is about masking the truthful, less glamorous facets of our existence and showing off whatever snapshots we want to craft, to people who, in many cases, don’t really care for it.
And, while I left, I didn’t miss the necessity to seek validation (okay, I may have had occasional cheeky fixes on instagram). Or miss the anxiety or claustrophobic sense that it had often created. Or being enraged or feeling pretty down by something I’d read. Or contemplating changing wording, and not trying to offend anyone, and so typing and retyping before clicking enter. Or having people share things that hadn’t been fact checked.
And sometimes, not having all that could be pretty refreshing (pun points).
Yet all that said, I did end up going back and creating a new account. And I did, for that time I was gone, feel like I missed out and was out of the loop. Because in the past, – there were people who, because of a post update or randomly had initiated contact through Facebook. And we may have caught up briefly. Or people that would never otherwise phone, but we’d hold a pleasant occasional online chat. And not having that option any more, that means for people who may have tried to contact you if you were there, wouldn’t. And that’s also, kind of sad.
Anyway, you get the picture. I could go on, but hope it hasn’t been entirely useless. If you’re wondering whether to leave social media, this probably hasn’t helped you one bit. Thank you if you read this far. I mean fair play to you, that’s time you wont be getting back – sorry about that.
Also, as I’m back on now, I may as well shamelessly self promote on twitter, instagram, facebook of course. If you could ironically ignore everything for just a moment, ‘like’ this post, share, retweet, validate my existence and self-worth that would be great… Please.