A life without social media

So, the time has come. In the last year I’ve been growing more and more tired of social media, and recently I deleted or deactivated the two remaining major social media networks. In total, over the last year, I have deleted or deactivated the following services:

  • 500px
  • EyeEm
  • Klout
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • DeviantArt
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Foursquare
  • Reddit
  • Snapchat
  • Tumblr
  • Flipboard
Only recently did I deactivate my Facebook and Instagram account however. This was a big step for me, and I’m only gonna use this blog and my Flickr account to publish both personal updates, photographs, reviews and articles from now on. I also have a Twitter account, which I use primarily for business and career use, and of course a Linkedin account which is purely business related. These will also remain for the time being, but they are for a very different use than the services I listed.

I’ve also disabled all social media integration between all the services that I use, including all the social media functionality of:

  • Spotify (not following anyone, disabled all social media sharing)
  • WordPress (no sharing to social media integration)
  • Skype (no Facebook integration)
  • Flickr (no publish social media functionality)
  • Google Maps (no sync between desktop and device)
  • Gmail (no chat integration, purely email)
  • YouTube (no social media publish and activity functionality)

And other applications as well.

This might all seem very drastic. And I guess in some ways it is. I will stay in touch with people via phone, email and Skype from now on. And the people I lose contact with were probably not interested in staying in touch in the first place, so that’s alright.

My reason for making these changes are quite simple: Staying on top of social media takes a whole lot of effort. It can easily become a part-time job. And even when I weren’t sharing, I were still wasting a lot of time reading uninteresting updates from other people. That might sound like a rude thing to say, but honestly, it is perfectly fine to not be interested in every part of everyone’s life. It’s much better to focus on topics of interest and the people who actually matter, and spend more time on them, rather than Liking everyone’s updates just for the sake of appearing interested and staying in the loop, as well as reading about stuff that takes you nowhere.

My career takes a lot of my time. I work in IT, and whenever I’m off work, I actually rarely want to spend time in front of the computer. And if I do spend time in front of my computer on my free time, I’d rather do something productive: Scan images, post process images, write reviews and articles, and actually read articles or information that interest me that I learn something from, rather than scrolling through Facebook or Twitter posts in the hunt for something interesting that rarely shows up. As of lately I’ve been doing all of this, and it has slowly but surely drained me of energy. I feel like I never had enough time to finish any of my personal projects. My Lightroom catalog was completely cluttered with all sorts of pictures I had no idea what to do with, or how to group. My email inbox was completely cluttered and unorganized. My task list in Evernote was starting to get frighteningly long, and I was getting far behind on my to-do’s.

Social media, and all of the internet related stuff that goes a long with it takes a lot of mental energy. My occupation takes a lot of mental energy. My hobbies take a lot of mental energy. I almost started to feel burned out, and whenever I had free time I had absolutely no energy left to get anything done. That’s when I realized how unhealthy social media actually is. And that’s when I realized that I can’t spend that much time on a “life” that isn’t real in the first place.

The weird outcome though, is that I have no idea what to use my phone for any more. I’ve been using an iPhone 6 Plus during the last six months. It replaced my old iPhone 5 and my iPad Air. With all the social media applications uninstalled on my phone, I hardly ever have to pick it up. Sometimes I still do pick it up, but then remember that I actually have nothing to check, no new updates to see, or anything like that, which is something I need to get used to. It was way too easy to just always pick up my phone and look at something… Just something… To kill time. Now, I have no excuse to just pick up my phone, unless I need to read an email, or if I get a message or a phone call. Being in the moment and staying focused is thus much easier in every situation.

It’s been about a week without social media now. And on a personal level I’ve cleaned up my Lightroom catalog tremendously. I’m starting to look at moving my website over to a self-hosted solution, with an all new design, layout and functionality. This change will take a lot of time, but I’ve been thinking about it in the last year or so. And now, with some extra free time, I’ve at least had the opportunity to start the process.

  • I think you’re making a wise choice; if only for a season. Taking a fast from screen time will only enhance your work, and shield you from distractions IMO. Enjoy the ‘rest’!

  • Nice piece. I think we’ve pondered and worked through the same issues. I left social media about for years ago (http://www.mynameisnotmatt.com/2012/06/19/i-am-opting-out-of-social-media/) for many of the reasons you describe. It took some adjustment but life went on without social media. For one reason or another, I returned to social media about a year later (http://www.mynameisnotmatt.com/2013/06/05/social-media-im-back/).

    Fast forward three years, and I’m back to a very similar place. Feeling overwhelmed, dismayed, annoyed, and many other emotions about social media. I still maintain a “it’s not you, it’s me” approach to social media; I think, primarily, because I don’t want to offend people who have no issues with the medium. In fact, I’m sure you are aware, or will encounter, people who are quite befuddled, even put off, by your decision.

    I came across this piece, perhaps, because I was looking for some comfort in numbers. I’ve been combing through a number of write-ups about people leaving social media, but your piece really resonated with me. I wish you well, and hope that you find and enjoy the peace that comes from removing yourself social media.

    Cheers!