On September 27, 2021, I pulled the plug on all my social media accounts. Despite my worries, it’s been absolutely worth it.

Along the way, I’ve encountered some people who tried to guilt me back into creating new accounts so they could keep up with me. Even though I stated my reasons why I was leaving when I left, others still feel compelled to try to tell you how you should live your life and that you should just “get over it” and not let things bother you. I just don’t argue with such people anymore because they aren’t hearing what I have to say and, personally, I feel like they don’t genuinely care about me.

I’ve known for more than three decades what being online does to my mental health. I didn’t start putting the pieces together until around 2013. I didn’t have scientific data to back me up, I just knew how I’d always felt whenever I spent time online in social media circles and I’ve been doing social media since before it even had a name.

Simply put, social media is bad for your health. There are no limits on your social connections. You can have one or one million followers. You aren’t really engaging in achieving good social connections. You are looking through a window to other peoples’ lives while being pressured to purchase things you don’t need and do things you know are wrong.

One of the biggest issues is there are few consequences to your actions, especially whenever there are comment sections and/or fake internet points to be had.

The comment area of the Internet Including Slashdot, and I am well aware I am fueling my own bad habits, is not good for your health.

The main issue is that there is no consequences for pissing someone off. So we are more apt to speak our mind, despite how well thought out, or if it will do more harm than good. as well conversely it is so easy to dismiss someones comments as just being partisan trolling or just the random chaos that some people want to bring.

These are not free exchanges of ideas, but chest thumping trying to show that you are right and a better person, than the other person who is wrong and stupid. The Leftist Trolls and the Rightwing nutjobs do nothing to share a broader picture of a complex diverse set of need’s desires and stresses in ones lives. It is just I am right and thoughtful, and you are a dumb idiot who just regurgitates the party line.

When dealing with these people in real life individually (not behind a mob of people pushing an agenda, or in front of someone that is going to try to twist their words) we will often find these people have reasons for their views, that are logical and fit their condition, even if they may conflict with your conditions.

The Farmer may oppose environmental regulations, as his business already runs on tight margins, and such regulations saying he can’t do stuff on his own land just makes things worse.

The Townsfolk may support environmental regulations, as the water pollution has gotten into their drinking water supply, and the value of their homes have dropped.

Both sides have logical grievances, and to help their problems they need conflicting resolutions. Such conversations don’t happen on the internet, because we don’t want to see how someone else is suffering, and you don’t have the time to realize your opinion just covers a small scope of people and not the entirety.

This is but one good point of how social media has become a cesspool. No one wants to have well-thought out discussions anymore. They want a zinger to feel good about themselves and then have their friends like what they say in their echo chamber. I still have people who insist I rejoin in the mudslinging, despite my protests that it is not good for me.

Social media made me angry, sad, and lonely even though I knew my accounts were turning into echo chambers. It’s not good for anyone to constantly cycle through those emotions.

Most of the people I followed online have different lives from me as well as having achieved and experienced things I never will. It’s not a slight to them, but it also makes no sense to look at their lives through a narrow lens and see what I never had. It makes it more difficult to be happy for people who are just experiencing life as we all hope it could be.

Social media thrives on a false sense of feeling connected to others. It has also evolved into a format where typing a short message, providing a link, or clicking a button to say you liked something is an acceptable way of communicating. It isn’t and it isn’t a fulfilling use of my time. One of my favorite video game series, Metal Gear Solid, warned us this was going to happen in their 1999 script for the game, but we didn’t listen.

… In the current, digitized world, trivial information is accumulating every second, preserved in all its triteness. Never fading, always accessible. Rumors about petty issues, misinterpretations, slander… All this junk data preserved in an unfiltered state, growing at an alarming rate. It will only slow down social progress, reduce the rate of evolution.

You exercise your right to “freedom” and this is the result. All rhetoric to avoid conflict and protect each other from hurt. The untested truths spun by different interests continue to churn and accumulate in the sandbox of political correctness and value systems.

Everyone withdraws into their own small gated community, afraid of a larger forum. They stay inside their little ponds, leaking whatever “truth” suits them into the growing cesspool of society at large.

The different cardinal truths neither clash nor mesh. No one is invalidated, but nobody is right.

Not even natural selection can take place here. The world is being engulfed in “truth.”

And this is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

Ironic that although “self” is something that you yourself fashioned, every time something goes wrong, you turn around and place the blame on something else.

“It’s not my fault. It’s not your fault.”

In denial, you simply resort to looking for another, more convenient “truth” in order to make yourself feel better.

Leaving behind in an instant the so-called “truth” you once embraced.

The individual is supposed to be weak. But far from powerless — a single person has the potential to ruin the world.

And the age of digitized communication has given even more power to the individual. Too much power for an immature species.

This morning, I’m willing to bet your social media and news feeds have been filled with “the slap.” I’m also sure you have an opinion on it. I am positive everyone has their own take and people are doubling down on “their side” of the situation. I will only comment violence is not the answer. Nor is toxic masculinity. Nor is hiding behind your religious beliefs to excuse your behavior. I agree with Hemant Mehta’s column as well as Meredith Salenger’s Twitter comment and Rob Reiner’s Twitter comment. I don’t think I need to say anything more than what they’ve said.

Reddit is the only form of social media I use. I have curated my subreddit subscriptions, which is necessary to avoid the Reddit cesspool. I see and read what I’m interested in. It creates a bit of an echo chamber for me, but it works for this particular platform.

The picture below demonstrates what I see when I go to Reddit. My screen this morning is full of Formula One links because the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was yesterday. As you can see in the pull down menu, my subscribed subreddits cater to what I like to see. Eight out of 30 are related to Formula One. Three are cute animals doing things. Eight are educational. While I may see headlines I won’t click on, for example the Dune and Oscars thing, because I’m not interested. Sticking to just these subreddits makes Reddit better in a way Facebook or Twitter can never do.

Choosing to not be part of social media has made me less angry, sad, and lonely. It was my choice to make and the continual questions of when I’m coming back are counter-productive to my own well-being. It makes me feel like I have made a wrong decision, even though I know I did not.

What I have been doing is reading more books and scientific articles. I’ve been trying to write more, though the past couple of weeks have been difficult due to asshats who think they know what’s best for women. I went hiking last week with a really good friend, who I have not seen in nearly five years.

The most awesome thing that happened, however, was I got a letter from a friend last Thursday. It totally made my day. My friend took the time to write me a letter. We text several times a week, but she sat down and fucking wrote a letter to me to catch me up on some things in her life we haven’t talked about via text. That means more to me than any damned like, share, or fake internet point ever could.

I could write for many days about the ills of social media. I actually have 11 pages of notes and links to studies. If you like it, great. However, for people like me, it only makes our lives worse. Stop judging us for our decisions.

I don’t know what to replace current social media with. I only know it is not for me and it is harming and others. For now, I’ll continue to toil away here in obscurity. It’s what’s best for me and my mental health.

Note: If you want to read some of the studies, here are the titles with links to the study. If you can’t access it, shoot me an email. I probably have the pdf of the study on my hard drive.

Scientific Papers:

No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression

Stewardship of global collective behavior

Associations Between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems Among US Youth

News Articles:

How social media impacts mental health in journalists

The machine always wins: what drives our addiction to social media

Is Social Media Bad for You? (Links to several studies)