At this point, I’m pretty much used to the confused stares and unconvinced responses I get when I tell people, “No, I don’t use Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.” It seldom bothers people but every now and then I’ll encounter someone who seems personally offended by this seemingly impossible situation, “But how do you not have Facebook? You should seriously make one, I don’t get why you haven’t already”. Now, I honestly do not hate social media and, in fact, believe that networking sites can be used in incredibly positive ways.
I also believe that everyone is still trying to understand the implications of social media and learning how to best navigate life around it. Here are some reasons, though, why I personally have taken a break from social media for the foreseeable future. Maybe you’ll be able to relate to some of the reasons or completely disagree, but either way I’m interested in seeing where this constantly evolving discussion will go.
First off, some cons …
For some context, I’ve never made Facebook or Twitter accounts and deactivated my Instagram account sometime last year. I also deleted my Tumblr and Pinterest profiles around one month ago so now I only have Snapchat which I barely used anyway. I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes regret deleting any and all creative content I had posted to those sites and that not using social media isn’t inconvenient at all.
You might feel out of the loop at times regarding events and you’ll probably experience a lot of FOMO, mainly regarding whether you’re missing out on ways to maintain certain social connections. In addition, speaking as someone trying to pursue a career related to media, the manner in which social media has become deeply embedded in not only social circles but in the work field can feel like a pressing reality.
Benefits of not having social media…
Despite all the mentioned cons, here’s why I ultimately decided to take a step away from social media. First off, you no longer waste time fretting over how your life looks online.Although I never spent a lot of time on social media to begin with, I still felt that a lot of what was being portrayed online was veiled behind a layer of superficiality. I didn’t want to contribute to any artificiality online but, knowing myself and the fact that I care a lot about what other people think, I felt that this would be difficult to avoid if I was being honest with myself. Overall, it came down to asking myself if social media was adding value to my life and I concluded that it wasn’t really.
You also have more time and headspace by not checking your phone constantly.
Going back to the notion that all individuals interact with social media differently, this point may definitely ring true for some more than others. Basically, if you’re prone to spending more time online, then eliminating certain distractions can be liberating. Personally, I found that not having the option to log-in to networking sites allowed for more time and focus to centralize priorities and certain hobbies in my life. For instance, I would much rather spend an hour engaging in conversation in-person than scrolling through updates of someone I barely know implicitly boasting about their day.
Your relationships will be fine, I promise you.
Maybe you’ll get less birthday messages from those people you were never really close with, but you won’t lose touch with friends that you really care about. In fact, I’d say not having social media made me more intentional about who I reach out to and the friendships I maintained.
I get to have more meaningful conversations through directly connecting with people and there’s more room to focus on those you’re actually close with. Research also points to a link between increased social media usage and perceived social isolation. In other words, having friends online does not necessarily mean you’re having enriching social experiences.
Social media is not inherently evil and can be an efficient and life-changing means of self-expression and connection for some. Also, it might be a realistically convenient and necessary means of gaining exposure for certain work fields. It really depends on the individual and what affects you mentally. For example, there are studies that find connections between social media usage and depression, envy and worsening moods in general.
While I believe that there are better and worse ways to utilize social media, I find it rewarding to be able to simply observe the changing mediascape of our times for right now. Until I can learn how to best use social media without feeling weighed down by artifice and the perception of others, I think it’s perfectly fine to step out from what seems like the norm. The bottom-line is that regardless of where you stand regarding social media, you should allow yourself the freedom and wisdom of making an informed decision without the confines of what others will think.