A few months ago, I decided to take a break from social media and I didn’t post anything in 2 months. I did not intentionally plan it, it just happened. I had watched a few documentaries and Ted Talks about the derives and manipulation happening in the social media space so I was becoming more mindful about how I spend my time there. But one day I just had this feeling of saturation and frustration as I caught myself scrolling on my Instagram feed for about 15 minutes after receiving a direct message.
My first intention was to read a personal message, and I was here looking at someone else’s « perfect » life!
I have to use quotation marks when I say « perfect » because you certainly know that 95% of what we see on social media represents only 5% of the person’s real life.
So I felt frustrated and powerless. I was thinking if I know about the traps and yet I am trapped, what’s wrong with me? If you are curious and have 17 minutes to spend, I invite you to check Tristan Harris’s talk.
So here is what I learned :
1)There is nothing more impersonal than an online social network
As I write these words, it sounds contradictory but it is the truth. The news about our friends are on the feed, or I should say the 5% best news about their lives. So you can like a post and comment and it feels like you are connected. And so you tend not to connect personally that much. But the reality is that when you do, you tell each other things about your life that you would not post on social media. The other side of it is that as people usually post superficial stuff, it causes a lot of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.
2)I am not afraid to say I am old school
My first mobile phone was a Nokia 3310 designed to make calls, send sms, and play the Snake game. Because I experienced life before social media I had this WTF moment of what happened to us? I am not saying that social media is a bad thing, I just think we are misusing it. I still enjoy calling a friend or leaving a message, but if I am being honest, I noticed that I was doing it less and less and I was not happy about that. I love having deep conversations with my friends and the truth is that this always happens in private settings. And there is something that always surprises me, not to say irritate me is how intrusive social media is. I often see people in restaurants scrolling on their phone during dinner instead of having a conversation or looking at the other person in the eye.
3)My real friends were still there
Yes, my life didn’t suddenly stopped, nor my friends disappeared. They were there and curiously several ones I connected with directly on whatsapp were actually going through the same. I guess we all followed the trend but at some point felt the call to take a break and reconnect with each other.
4)This was a huge distraction
We know that theoretically, but when you really pay attention and count the number of times you are distracted by notifications or the automatism of checking your phone it is ridiculous.
5) I certainly did miss out on some news
But that’s ok, they were fake anyways !
The benefit of this detox is that not only I reconnected with old friends, I decided to repurpose my relationship with social media :
-I disabled notifications on my phone so I check it only when I decide to and have nothing more important to do
-I will use it as a channel for my voice, including if what I have to say is not pretty or polished
-I will commit to do a digital detox day at least once per week.
What are you taking away from this?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this and experience with social media.