Last year I made a decision that seemed really crazy to some people. I decided to leave Facebook. I said goodbye to my friends, let them know how to get in touch with me off Facebook, and closed up my account.
The number of “friends” from Facebook that I have heard from since I left I can count on one hand with fingers to spare. It was interesting how once the convenience of Facebook was removed, the friendship ended. That made me realize that many of these “friendships” weren’t ever real to begin with.
After being away from Facebook for a while, I didn’t miss it. At first, I did feel like maybe I was missing something, but it wasn’t long before I was able to let it go. In the months since I’ve found myself questioning other social media sites I’m on too, particularly Twitter and Instagram.
Maybe it’s how we use these sites, how we connect with people on them or the level of importance we place on them as a whole, but I feel social media has become a poor substitute for real, authentic interactions with people and creating meaningful connections with the world.
It’s not communication, it’s noise.
When you go on you’re hammered with an overwhelming amount of communication from people but how significant are most of it? How meaningful is it in your life? How connected do you actually feel to those people? How well do you actually know any of those people? How many of them would you invite over for dinner…and how many would actually accept the invite? And would they bring wine?
Most of the messages and posts are either lacking in depth, lacking in authenticity, or are nothing more than repeats of other stuff we’re seen said a thousand times before by other people. With everything being so trivial, it goes in one ear and out the other, quickly forgotten. It’s distraction…noise…it leaves nothing behind that has meaning once it fades from our minds.
You get the feeling of connecting with people, but if you really look at the “friendship” or the connection you feel you have, there’s really nothing to it. There is no depth, but a facade of feeling like you know someone because you see pictures of them in various states of living and you make a little “me too” type comment, and they might like your comment later on. That doesn’t mean anything.
A lot of it isn’t real, it’s invented for show.
A large portion of what you see, especially from all your internet famous friends, or the “influencers” that see themselves as famous, is heavily curated. There are companies that target wannabe Instafamous people to help them grow their accounts by curating an “effortless lifestyle” image through photo shoots and marketing. The idea is to give the impression of a particular lifestyle even though that’s not at all their reality, by using it to draw you in with the old “follow me/buy my stuff/do what I do, and you can have what I have” tactic.
And while that is nothing new, the fact that so many of the “authentic lifestyle gurus” out there that are trying to see you on “manifesting your best life” and “ spreading good vibes” do this is a problem. What people think is “brave authenticity” is often meticulously planned social engineering through marketing.
Social media hinders the desire to actually be social with actual people in the physical world.
When you can sit back at home, chat with people on your phone, get that dopamine rush from likes and comments, and have that feeling that you’re “so social” and making lots of “friends” it makes the actual process of going out into the world and putting in the real effort to build two-way, mutual friendships seem so 1999. Your brain is making you think you’re social so there’s no reason to actually socialize offline.
There’s no real human connection, it’s all computers.
You’re reading words on a screen, looking at pictures and videos taken some other time for mass consumption, and you have meaningless, trivial banter with people. It’s all virtual which is actually helping you bond with a computer more than a person if you really think about it. The relationship is with your phone. Think about how freaked out we get when we lose or break our phone or when the battery dies suddenly. Or…what about when Facebook or Instagram go down!?! Holy shit, it’s like you’ve been cut off from society and we all lose our fucking minds! If you were worried about missing out what your friend was doing that afternoon, if you were actually friends, you could call them and talk to them and find out what they’re doing. But instead, we’re upset about the loss of connection to our true friend, technology.
Your online “friends” are not your friends. But what about your real life friends?
When we play the social media game, we put a lot of value on that number of followers at the top of our profiles. I do not have 38K “friends” on Instagram. I’m not expecting to sit down with each of those 38K “friends” for coffee to chat about life, the Universe, and everything. Nor do I assume they want to do that with me either. So…why are we putting so much energy into any of this then?
It can become a place where you quickly get reminded of where you’re lacking and what you’ve failed at.
For me, this was huge with Facebook, and since leaving Facebook, Instagram has now become the source of this problematic vibe. While I’m happy to see where others are succeeding and doing well, it often makes me feel like I’m not doing enough, not growing, not thriving, and ultimately questioning why I’m bothering in the first place. It’s a place that your inner critic and Ego just love but often leaves you feeling shitty at the end of the day.
My personal decision about all this mess…
Endless status updates, lifestyle pictures, tales of success and woe, and even completely unmasked desperate calls for attention from people just finally got to me. Social media is intended to be all consuming and addictive. For everyone on it, it causes problems, but for some people those problems are not pronounced and they are better at handing or coping with the downsides. Not all of us are that good at these things.
I have always had a hard time with sensitivity in social situations and had social anxiety very early on as a kid. I literally stayed home “sick” from school for nearly a week in elementary school because I was having a hard time interacting positively with other kids in school. I took things way too personally and overthought every interaction to ridiculous lengths. Later in life I’d be clinically diagnosed with social anxiety, depression, and ADHD. This would make so much of the events from my childhood and early teen years make sense and would help me to develop some tools and techniques for dealing with them. But knowing these things is half the battle and sometimes the battle plan that works for one person isn’t going to work for another. For me, it seems, just not showing up for the war is the best option.
So I’ve made the decision, as hard as it is but knowing it’s necessary, that I will be leaving social media. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing, teaching, creating, and helping people. In fact, I think I’ll feel so much more inspired to do it than I have in recent months (if not years).
Business wise this will make a huge difference in my world, but I’m open to it. My audience will be much smaller, my reach much shorter, but I feel that could bring more connection and more authenticity, and more opportunity for making real friendships and connections that go beyond social media.
Specifically, I’ll be leaving Instagram and Twitter.
I’ll be focusing my online interactions in the places that I feel actually bring value for me and where I can bring value to together. Twitch, Discord, and Patreon all co-mingle for me and bring me tons of personal and professional value. I’ll be starting a Twitch channel where I’ll be doing reading streams, chat streams, gaming streams, and just hanging out and being silly with people beginning sometime in June.
A few things that I regularly do on social media, like my Monday Power Animal “pick a card” reading, will happen here on my blog each week instead. Other social sites that I don’t use for social purposes, like Pinterest and YouTube, I will stay on for my own personal use. (I’ll be honest, it was a few years into using Pinterest before I realized you could be “social” on there, so it isn’t even a place I think of as being social media.)
I no longer want to be in a big pond and would instead focus on my small puddle with the other odd fish that want to make an effort to go there and who want more than a superficial connection. Instead, we’ll work to form a family of our own, one that might start online but hopefully can grow beyond that, but that will always keep things real and anything but noisy and superficial.
If you follow me on social media and you want to stay connected with me, please be sure to sign up for my email list down below if you already aren’t. I send emails a few times a month so anything particularly important you’ll be sure to hear about…and I won’t hammer you with multiple emails a month asking you to buy something from me or someone else…ever!