In January 2017 I took an Amish approach to social media- I simply quit it. For how long, I didn’t know then. I stopped believing in its purpose and started questioning how it was harmful to my own mental health.
They say the biggest indicator of happiness is social interaction and I believe it. For a while I thought Facebook, for instance, was the answer to the loneliness problem. But perhaps instead of curing loneliness, we created a new breed of loneliness- the worst kind. Ask yourself these questions: are these daily “likes” or “check-ins” (aka interactions) of great and meaningful quality, and do we truly feel deep connections with each of the 93+ people we are supposedly “friends” with on Facebook?
We all live day-to-day with so many physical and mental distractions and then fail to properly unwind at night from our cluttered minds. For me, it just became a toxic, never-ending cycle of keeping up- keeping up with the news feeds, the perfection that is projected from others, and probably the likely-perceived flawless image of my own life. By nature, we only share most of what we view as our better selves, our positive sides. And at low points, what we really end up doing is comparing our worst days with those idyllic packages, not realizing what we’re looking at is just a fraction of someone’s journey. We are almost never privy to their struggles and their path to get to where they ended up. And because of this, perhaps everyone is always looking for that shortcut when it just simply doesn’t exist. I honestly believe that the positives are all the more sweet because of the negatives, yet this is the exact thing we keep away from public view. After all, if you were never poor how can you fully appreciate what it means to finally have enough.
Back to the break up- was it easy to quit? Heck no, not even close! I had a constant daily mantra of asking myself rhetorically, “is it really that important” but also redirecting my thumb from clicking on the app itself. Only when I tried to eliminate it from my everyday did I realize how natural it had become; how much it was already weaved into the fabric of my daily psyche, and then what a tremendous amount of discipline it would require for me to kick the habit. I won’t lie, I certainly went through periods of withdrawals. I began wondering, “well, what am I supposed to do now?” And it’s this exact question that led me back to the things I enjoyed before; before the world of social media became all-consuming and enveloped my existence.
The ultimate question is: is it possible to opt out forever? The answer is likely no because as technology continues to improve, the faster we are moving towards a world that would be unimaginable ten, maybe even twenty years ago. At this pace if you don’t move with the times, they say, you get left behind. And no one ever wants to be left behind, including me. For now though, I am working on myself; focusing on my direct connections with the people that matter and benefiting from less clutter in my mind.
Facebook, it’s not you, it’s me.