Recently I wished, for the umpteenth time, that I could stop using the internet. Then, later, I revised that statement – I wished I could give up social media.
I’d thought it over. Email would be a good way to keep in touch with people in place of Facebook, G+, and Twitter. I would hate to give up the educational aspect the internet as well, especially considering how crucial research is to writing novels. Then there is the entertainment factor of blogs, YouTube, and Grooveshark, which I don’t have problems with using. They can be very helpful, too.
No, I thought. I don’t want to give everything up. My problem lies with social media.
I hate how dependent I feel. I hate that I have the compulsion to repeatedly check Facebook and Twitter. I had the same problems when I used to use message boards years and years ago. I feel like because the computer is on, or if I’m using it already, I may as well check and see if there’s anything new. And the more dead the place is at the time, the more I check.
They say Facebook, and Twitter, and everywhere else are places to connect. I don’t believe that’s true. I have never felt less connected. I don’t have any meaningful conversations; I never get to ask anybody how they’re doing. I don’t hear what’s going on with them aside from what they choose to share. There is the obvious problem of none of us going out of our way to really talk to people, but I think that’s what social media does. It gives the façade of connection, so you feel no need to ask, “How was your day? What did you do? What did you see?”
And then there’s me. I won’t say the cliché that I feel like I’m not being myself. But I feel like I’m being less of myself than I want to be. I often choose not to say what I’d like to, because I will either tick someone off, or people won’t really care, or the wrong people will see it and ask stupid questions. I feel like I would know people much better if I had emailed, called, or visited them instead of bumming around the internet most of the day.
Being on the internet so much – and even a few weeks ago, I was on the computer much less than I used to be in the message board days – makes me feel a certain disconnect from reality. My head is in the clouds. The days go by too fast. I could be reading, or drawing, or writing, or any number of things instead of checking Facebook for the fourteenth time that day. It gives the feeling of squandering my life away when I could make it count.
I felt the same way about video games last year. I wondered, “What is the point of this? Sure, I built a pretty sweet castle in Minecraft. But I didn’t really accomplish anything.” I couldn’t play them after that. I tried. They just felt like a waste of time.
I asked myself a similar question after the idea came for dropping social media from my life. “What am I getting out of social media?” I thought about it. I couldn’t think of anything.
I would love to give it up. I really would. But as always, things are easier said than done.
Instead of cutting it all out at once, and no doubt failing miserably, I’ve been limiting my time progressively for the last two weeks. Soon, I won’t use social media at all. It will be a sweet relief.