I Quit Social Media
I can already feel the weight dissipating; lifting off my shoulders.
My neck even feels a bit sore. I've been looking up more lately. Staring at the leafless tree branches and grey Portland skies.
What's changed? Why do I feel more connected to reality than ever before?
Oh right. I quit social media.
It's amazing how the FOMO (fear of missing out) disappears when I'm not inundated with the perfectly curated lives of my "friends" digital projection of themselves. I have no idea what that friend did in Florida for vacation. And no, I didn't see that cute video of her new baby on Facebook.
Technology addiction is a real thing. FOMO is a real thing. And our society, being endlessly driven by new tech and news by the nanosecond, is in a depressive downward spiral into fearful self-absorption.
I'm not the doomsday guy. I'm not even prepared if a natural disaster were to occur. But I always see the glass half full. Ask my wife. It can be annoying.
But I can't shake the feeling that our always-on, always-connected, iPhones-attached-to-the-palm-of-our-hands digital lives are slowly killing us as individuals — and as a society. Though there are multiple ways this addiction to social "influence" and connection is leading to our downfall, there's one in particular that strikes me the most:
Our delicately curated lives keep us from telling the truth.
Oh sure, that photo you posted on Instagram is true...in that exact moment. But life is not a grid of curated serenity. If we're willing to tell the truth about who we are online, our photo grids would look quite different.
Telling the truth is a famous pastime. Left to those in the pre-WWII era, we've trudged ahead, only sharing the finest moments of our existence so as to envoke envy and jealousy in others. We would never say that outright, but that's what we're doing.
Our obsession with "sharing" our lives online is nothing more than an attempt to medicate our own self-absorption and focus. And we do it because we see others doing it, too. But we don't like feeling envious and jealous, so we attempt to do the same.
Not all sharing is bad. The internet and social media is an incredible tool to stay connected to those you actually want to stay close to. But other than that, it's a time-suck that slowly steals your life, takes your breath away, and is burning holes in your retinas (as in your eyeballs, not your computer screens...although that's also probably the case).
No mo' FOMO
Why am I saying all this? Because I've recently experienced a newfound freedom I hadn't felt since the last time I quit social media. It's amazing how present you become when you aren't caught up in what everyone else is doing all over the world that you're NOT doing. Not only that, in an effort to be true to who I say I am, I want to more accurately and consistently tell the truth.
I recently heard Susan Cain, author of the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won't Stop Talking," in an interview on The Knowledge Project podcast talk about how we value extroversion and personality in our world today. We're constantly trying to put on a face and make a good impression, and the lengths to which we're willing to go with that effort is extraordinary.
Many of us don't even know who we really are anymore.
Business books of the 19th century used words like "character," "virtue," and "values" to describe the type of qualities to aspire to. Business books of the 20th century use words like "magnetism" and "charisma." Those are very different adjectives/nouns.
As an introvert myself, it's painful when I feel I must force an energetic presence when all I want to do is crawl under a rock and be alone for awhile. Now sometimes, it's necessary. I get that. As a parent and an employee in the workforce, we all have to do things we don't exactly want to do. But how long do I have to fake being someone I'm not?
Quitting social media allows me to be more of who I actually am. Without the competition of trying to keep up with the vacations, purchases, and life experiences of everyone else, I'm much more free to simply be me. The true me. The me I actually want people to know and love.
Confession Over Curation
As a Jesus-follower, we often talk about the practice of confession. Typically, when people hear that word they tend to think of two things: justice and/or religion.
What comes to mind might be the interrogator questioning a suspect inside a cold cinderblock room akin to a jail cell, bludgeoning the person to "confess!" Or you might envision a dark wooden closet of sorts, with a woman confessing her "sins" to a priest on the other side of a slatted wall or curtain.
All confession means is, to tell the truth.
Be honest. Be real. Don't hide behind something fake. Don't create a digital alter ego because you don't think you're good enough. Our country is longing for people to just tell the truth!
Are you ready to take a break? Are you fed up with the barrage of social platforms and oversharing? What do you plan to do about it? Leave a comment below to discuss!
**Disclaimer: I still have a Writer page on Facebook, and my Twitter/Instagram profiles are still active. And I'll still share my articles on social platforms for people to read/share (if they/you so desire). But I am not actively participating in any social platform.