A little more than a year ago, I began a trek to use social media less. It is clearly evident that it makes me sad, angry, and confrontational, and puts me in a general state of despair. Studies have found it’s detrimental to your mental health and I was wondering why I do this to myself when there are clearly other, healthier things I could be doing instead.
I’ve been mostly successful. I don’t really care about my Instagram or Twitter accounts. I rarely log into Instagram. I have little interest in the platform. I’ve had my Twitter account for ten years and mostly keep it out of nostalgia. I log in from time to time, get bored less than two minutes later, and then log off.
Depending on who you talk to, Reddit is and is not social media. I spend time there, but I subscribe to subreddits such as Formula 1, ask science, ask history, anthropology, world news, science, technology, privacy, piracy, history, scifi, true reddit, atheism, true atheism, haas f1 team, Judge Dredd, longform, Nebraska, and Reddit security. Most subreddits I am subscribed to are educational and are places I can actually learn and have discussions with others.
Facebook, however, has been my problematic social media account. I’ve actually deleted my Facebook account twice. I’m on my third account and I continually wonder why I log in.
What I have observed is people post rants about topics of which they are not informed. They parrot media talking points or religious views without fact-checking. If it aligns with their point of view in the world, then they go ahead and share it. Then, they dig in and refuse to change their stance.
About a month before the 2016 presidential election, a Facebook friend shared a post with a picture that showed people unloading crates of voter ballots that were clearly marked with “Clinton” on the crates. Clicking on the link to the story displayed the picture and four sentences. That was the entire story. In those sentences was a link to another site that was similarly written. After a third link-click, I got to the original story. All three sites were nationalistic sites to varying degrees. I could smell the bullshit from all three.
The original story appeared to be made up. There were no sources. I went to Tineye and searched the image because I was sure the picture did not display how ballots are handled in the United States. The original photograph was taken in northern England several years before. The website of the original story had reversed the photo and photoshopped the words “Clinton” on each crate. Five minutes of work and I had found out the post was bullshit.
Back on my Facebook friend’s feed, there were more than thirty likes and a dozen or so “amens,” “you got that right,” and “Clinton’s a cheater,” type posts. Sadly, nothing has changed since that time.
It has gotten worse. Facebook has become even more of an echo chamber than it was before. Political and religious arguments have become the norm. People no longer interact with each other. Did they ever? If people aren’t arguing, they’re busy putting their best selves forward. It’s all become fake and I have become disinterested. So, I’m taking a permanent step back.
In October, I trialed what it would be like to be free of Facebook. I left for 18 days. My mental health improved. When I returned, the mental drain was immediately evident. It made me sad, depressed, and upset, and gave me a general feeling that I was an outsider looking in. I tried to get back into Facebook, but those feelings have only worsened.
I know I will be even more out of the loop than I am now. I know I will lose 99 percent of my followers on Facebook by checking out. I have thought about this for a long time and it’s the best decision for me.
If you want to follow what I’m doing, you can visit this site. I may occasionally post what I write to Facebook, but, mostly, I’m not going to bother with social media. There are adventures I need to seek out in the real world and an extremely long list of writing that needs to be done.
You can always send me an email via my contact form or at irenenorth [at] gmail [dot] com. I only check that email once every few weeks, so don’t expect a speedy reply.
If you sign up for email notifications at the bottom of the page, you’ll get a confirmation email. Reply to that and you’ll get an email every time I make a post.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for listening. I’ll be seeing you around sometime in the real world.