Getting my life back, Part I - Social Media
Back in late 2017, during my first walks out as a new photographer, I had decided that whenever I found something really interesting, I would immediately transfer it from my camera to my smartphone and publish it on Instagram.
Some of my photos were really successful, while others did not get the “likes” I believed they would. That was the first time I caught myself deleting the content that my (few) followers - mainly friends of mine - didn’t like.
This was a really sad realization for me: although I was an amateur photographer, my creativity was “driven” by my social media followers. Instead of learning how to shoot right and make art through photography, I had already decided that getting approval from my followers was far more important for me.
So in June of 2018, I realized that Instagram was harming the first real effort to be creative in my life and for this reason it had to be removed from my daily routine. As a result, after patiently deleting all my content, I pressed the button and I deleted my account.
This decision had a deep impact on me and I started wondering what was the actual reason I had a Twitter account. I always told myself that I used Twitter in order to get informed about what is happening around the world, but that was a lie. The reason I used twitter was to express opinions (that by the way nobody should give a fuck about) about everything, being forced by the maximum of the 140 characters to write with a “smartypants” attitude so that I get as many re-tweets as possible.
I started reading all my past tweets and I felt sad. That was not me, but an impersonation of myself seeking the dopamine that comes after the “reward” of a re-tweet. Initially I deleted all my tweets and stayed there only to follow accounts from news agencies etc., but I knew it was not enough. As a result I deleted my Twitter account too.
My last remaining account was the one I had forFacebook. Although I had lost my interest on Facebook long ago, I kept using it whenever I felt bored during the day, a habit that by the way many frequently resulted in really heavy use. In addition to that, Facebook Messenger had become my main means of communication , and although I really didn’t like it (I had many privacy concerns), I kept using it because it was the easiest way to chat with almost everyone I know. However, as my skepticism about social media was massively increasing, I started seriously considering escaping Facebook. I decided to do the same I did with Twitter and so I started reading my content from the past.
I was a member of Facebook for more than nine years, so reading posts of my much younger self was a mixture of sad and funny feelings. One thing was for sure: that guy wasn’t me and all these posts were 100% irrelevant to my current self. Apart from that, I started thinking of my past Facebook use. I remembered times I decided to delete content that got less likes than expected, or times I felt really nice because of a “successful” post. Or other times I posted a song that I knew it would get a lot of “likes” from my “friends”. One word came again to mind: dopamine.
The days passed and I still hadn’t decided what to do with this account, always telling myself that not having a Facebook account would affect communication with people I cared about. And then I asked myself “how many people that you care about will you lose if you stop using Facebook?”. The reply was “ONE”. So, I contacted this very old friend of mine, I informed her that she could not longer reach me over Facebook and apart from phone calls, she could either use Viber or Whatsapp to chat with me.
To cut the long story short, once again I decided to proceed with the usual step and I deleted my Facebook account along with Facebook messenger.
Living without social media
I have to admit that I did not expect that deleting my social media accounts (apart from Linkedin which I am still obliged to have and occasionally use for business reasons) to change my life so drastically.
The first days without all these apps on my smartphone I felt really funny. I kept opening the screen of my smartphone realizing that I could not spend my time by infinitely scrolling my Facebook or Twitter feed. So, I decided to replace an old habit with a new one and I started reading e-books. After 2 months of almost being addicted to reading, I bought a Kindle. After all these months, I only use my smartphone when needed (and mainly for my GTD system).
Regarding all the information that is not served on my feeds, I now visit all the pages I want (news, entertainment etc.) whenever I want.
Not being continuously bombarded with low-quality content makes me feel much calmer and focusing to what is really important in REAL life.
In addition to that, I started using Reddit. Although I don’t consider it a social medium, Reddit can be as harmful (it has their own implementation of like named “karma”) as all these other services above, but being more like a multi-forum platform, if you use it right it can be a very valuable resource of knowledge. Some subreddits I follow are r/simpleliving, r/minimalism, r/Anticonsumption, r/socialmediasceptisicm, r/digitalminimalism, r/gtd, r/photography, r/Buddhism etc.
In order to publish my photos, I used Flickr for a while, but I decided to create my own site for this reason, so I got rid of it too.
I keep having communication with all the people I want and the most important is that I spend far less time on my smartphone and online in general. This last behavior change was big life changer, but let’s talk about it on a separate post!
What is really important is that I feel that I escaped from dystopia. I miss nothing from my old social media days.
Social media are addictive on purpose; they were created to be this way. Their whole purpose is to modify our behaviors and manipulate us in order to addict us as much as possible and finally sell our data (being addicted, we keep giving more and more data..) to advertisers (this is the best scenario!), manipulators/bad actors in general.
Setting ourselves free from the social media addiction can only make our lives better!