Deleting Social Media

Sometimes, there are things that you just have to do. You can’t think about them any longer. The time comes when you just have to pull the plug and watch the water drain away.

It’s been about three years since I deactivated my Facebook account. At first, I was worried that I’d miss out on a whole bunch of stuff. It ended up being just fine. In fact, it was a good decision. This past summer, I deleted my Facebook account, finalizing my commitment.

Early last week, I deleted my Twitter and Instagram accounts. They felt overwhelming. They were an easy escape from whatever I should have been doing instead — a distraction. Actually, it felt like an addiction.

Quitting smoking has been a decade’s long struggle. I wax and wane, my will power comes and goes. I haven’t smoked a cigarette in a good while, but I vape regularly these days. There have been stretches of time when I haven’t smoked or vaped at all, but those times feel like vacations rather than reality. I haven’t given up hope that I’ll finally quit one day.

Social media isn’t much different. I was finding myself scrolling through the various apps habitually, without intention.

With smoking, my body decides when it’s time to puff away again. I don’t feel like I’m in control of it. Resisting the urge is difficult because it’s staving off a hunger.

Social media is more like a second dessert. It’s tantalizing, makes me feel a bit guilty, and does little to improve my life. Indeed, it leaves behind a little weight that I’ll need to shave off later.

Social media, on balance, negatively affects my life.

As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch The Simpsons or Full House. Why? Because, according to my dad, they aren’t good representations of what family life is like. I wasn’t allowed to watch Wonder Years after I started emulating Kevin’s behaviour.

As an adult, I wish someone would’ve changed the channel every time I signed into social media. Because, as we all know, it isn’t a good representation of what real life is like. We are seeing scripted and edited versions of everyone else’s life.

Coming out of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, I feel like I’ve lost touch with myself and who I am. It seems an odd outcome given how much time I had to spend with only myself. It’s the reflection of ourselves that we see in the world we live and act in that shows us who we are. Without interfacing with society, my reflections became increasingly distant and smaller. Social media makes my mirror look spotted with toothpaste spit.

Social media isn’t all bad. It has definitely helped me feel more in touch with people. I’m curious about people I’ve met along the way and it’s interesting to see how they’re continuing on. There are many people whose phone numbers I have but with whom I only talk to through Instagram messages. Often, the conversations started because of something that one of us posted. In small ways, we keep each other in each other’s lives. This is a good thing.

Unfortunately, my will is weak. My head turns to look at all the shiny things. Cloudy days are always calmer than sunny ones or nighttime. It’s simply too easy for me to scroll endlessly through a feed I’m not paying close attention to. Too many times, I’ve said out loud to myself, “I don’t even care about any of this,” as I continue to swipe up to see what’ll be revealed from underneath.

Can we just stop for a second to acknowledge how many ads are on these feeds now?

I tried deleting the apps but you can access them through an internet browser. I set time limits on my phone but kept ignoring the alerts.

On Monday morning of last week, I finished my coffee and deleted my Instagram and Twitter accounts before leaving for work. I needed the hamster wheel to stop turning.

I miss it, I do. I’ve thought about backtracking on my decision and reopening my accounts before the November 17th expiration date. I’m not sure how anyone will know that I’ve written this post if I don’t let them know through social media. Even still, the psychological cost of continuing to engage with social media is too high for me right now.


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