Let’s get straight to the point: no one cares if you don’t go to the party, and no one cares if you use Instagram.
I’ve been an active social media user since I lied to Myspace that I was 16 back in 2005. I was in fifth grade, and my friend Stephan told me “just tell them you’re 16 the won’t ever know”… And that logic is still used for every single person not old enough to create a TikTok account yet. In the beginning, social media was a place for you to connect to your friends at school, and now it’s very, very different. It’s a way for you to keep loose connections and keep up to date with people you don’t care about, and for the most part, do not care about you.
After reading Cal Newport’s “Deep Work”, I was really thrown off by him suggesting getting off social media. I always saw it as a place to know what my friends were up to, to reconnect with people from college, and just enjoy some random videos of cats or a place I want to visit. Cal suggested
Go rogue for one month, and don’t tell anyone you’re going rogue. Don’t tell your friends, and don’t make a post about it. You’ll see who really cares and who does not.
Those aren’t his exact words, but instead the gist of what he was saying.
It has now been three months since I’ve been on Instagram, Facebook, or Reddit, and I have to say, he was 100% right. I do not talk to anyone I only talked to on Instagram. No one asked me “hey what happened to your posts” or “hey I haven’t seen a story in a while.” Something I thought was important based off the 200+ views I got per story really didn’t mean anything. Instead, I was faced with the realization my friend circle is a lot smaller than I originally thought, and I’m kind of okay with it. I text and send photos to those I actually care about, and they do the same in return. I used to think Facebook was a good way to keep connections I cared about alive, but instead found it’s a million times for valuable having a 30 minute coffee chat in person than 2 years of loose connection on social media.
The writing is on the wall. Social media has reduced our attention spans to 7 second clips, causes us to believe a moment without entertainment is a dreadful moment, and causes so much underlying anxiety that you only realize it after you’ve stepped away. We have become a cash cow for “influencers” to shill products to that they don’t even use and haven’t done a single lick of research to realize that it’s a garbage company. Why do you care so much about someone’s life that does not even know you exist?
It is perfectly fine to admire people. To look at them and say “hey they have a pretty cool life”. However, the parasocial relationship of being so intertwined with their lives that you call them by their first names when they post something (“Oh wow I can’t believe Mike is in Cabo!”) is a bit bizarre if you take a step back. You don’t know them. You know the persona they post online. Seeing someone on a screen is a lot different than hanging out with them a day in the city. You do not have any connection or relationship with this person besides your Youtube subscription.
I can go on and on about this. If you were to get one thing from this, please take this:
Take a month off all social media, and see how you feel. Who really cares about you? Who do you care about? Who will you call or text or send an e-mail to? Don’t tell a single soul you’re off socials and just log out and uninstall the apps. I promise you after you get past the first few days of withdrawls, you’ll see a new light to it all.