Getting my life back, Part I - Social Media

2018/12/27

Categories: General Tags: social media

Instagram

Back in late 2017, during my first walks out as a completely 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 wanting to delete content that my (few) followers - mainly friends of mine - did not like.

This was a really sad realization for me: although I was an amateur photographer, my creativity was “being instructed” 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 decided that Instagram was harming the first real effort in my life on being creative and for this reason it had to be removed from my daily habits. As a result, my Instagram account was the first one to delete (after I had deleted all my content).

Twitter

This decision had a deep impact on me, so 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 in the world, but that was a lie. The reason I used twitter was in order to tweet, to express my opinion (that nobody should give a fuck about) about everything, being forced from the maximum of the 140 characters to write in a “smartypants” way and get retweets.

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 a retweet. Initially I decided to delete all my tweets and stay there only to follow accounts from news agencies etc., but I knew it was not enough. As a result I deleted my Twitter account.

Facebook

My last remaining account was that of Facebook. Although I had lost my interest on Facebook long ago, I kept using it whenever I felt bored during the day, sometimes resulting in heavy use. In addition to that Facebook Messenger has become one of the most popular means of communication, and although I really did not like it at all (I had major 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, started considering deleting my account. I decided to do the same I did with Twitter, so I started to read 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 postings 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. One word came again to mind: dopamine.

The days passed and I still hadn’t decided what to do with this account, always telling to myself that not having a Facebook account would stop communication with people I cared about. And then I asked myself “how many people 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, I decided again to proceed with the usual step and I deleted my Facebook account along with my Facebook messenger one.

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 electronic 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 deleted Flickr 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.

It is easily understood that setting ourselves free from the social media addiction can only make our lives better!