A few months ago, I decided to delete all my social media accounts. After a good amount of clicking, tapping, and confirming that, yes, I’m sure—Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr profiles were all gone. I’d like to share some of my experience in the months that followed. So, what does it feel like to live without social media in a society and age where it is mostly taken for granted?
- Emptiness. It feels like there is a void in time and mind-space that I have to fill. I can no longer mindlessly scroll through news feeds when I find myself with no plans for an evening. I have to consciously decide what I will do (or not do) with my time. Sometimes I get indecisive, which means that I end up spending decent amounts of time just staring at a wall and thinking. This also leaves a lot of room for worrying. Without the distraction of social media, I’ve noticed that negative events affect me more strongly—probably because my mind spends a lot of time dwelling on them. The same is true of positive events, though, too. I’m able to enjoy moments more because I’m more fully present in them.
- Less fear of missing out. There was something about social media that made me rather dissatisfied with my life. Many of my friends on Facebook were posting group photos with smiling faces; hotties I followed on Instagram were posting photos of their perfect bodies, and queers I followed on Tumblr were ‘more queer than me.’ Seeing all of this made me feel not only inferior but even that there was something wrong with me. Why was I not happy nearly as much as all these people on Facebook seemed to be? Why did I never get to hook up with super cuties like the ones on Instagram? Why did I feel brushed off to the side as ‘not queer enough’ among the queer community on Tumblr? When I distanced myself from social media, I noticed an improvement in my self-esteem. I’m certainly not happy all the time, but I spend less time focusing on who I could be or what I could be doing if only I tried harder.
- Truthfulness? I put a question mark next to this one because I know it can be a bit of a buzzword with little meaning sometimes. I’m not trying to say that I’ve been authentic in all of my interactions because they’ve all happened in person. I know I’ve still hidden my true feelings in certain interactions and replaced them with more digestible, ‘happier’ alternatives. But I do believe that I’m starting to worry less about displaying a lack of confidence and about being vulnerable. I’ve cut off contact with many acquaintances, but have strengthened friendship bonds and feel more okay with sharing feelings with them that social media would most likely have classified as ‘drama.’
I’d like to hear about other folks’ experiences of periods without social media. Was/is it similar for y’all?