Dear Social Media, I’m Breaking Up With You -or- Committing Cybersuicide and Loving It!
I discovered the Internet way back in the 20th century. It was 1996 actually. I was a production assistant on a TV series and almost always stayed late at night to jump on the computer in our script coordinator’s office. I was amazed at the endless piles of information that was available at my finger tips. Of course it was dial-up back then so I wasn’t surfing the Net as fast as we do these days. I was cruising at a not-so-whopping 28.8Kbps to 33.6Kbps. Regardless, I was cyber-hooked.
Stumbling upon a few early social media platforms, I had this sudden sense of belonging that I hadn’t felt prior to jumping on the information highway. For the first few years I messaged total strangers via MSN Messenger and eventually ICQ. Of course I signed up almost immediately for a yahoo email address and soon after a MySpace page.
I fell into the same trap that millions are still falling into today. For a time I allowed myself to be defined by how many followers I had. I was addicted to the sudden deluge of attention that came my way. It was intoxicating. I spent many hours each day online posting everything from photos of my food to forwarding every funny animated GIF I could get my cyber hands on. And then one day a question popped into my head, “why did I think social media was so damned important?”
We went away to Cuba last month and I had a chance to reflect on that question I had asked myself. More importantly I had a chance to be without Internet for a full week. It was glorious. I had forgotten how amazing the world is through my own eyes and not through the 9.7 inch screen of my iPad. When we came home I left a part of me in Cuba. The part that longed to tell my 5000 followers on Facebook where I’d been. The part of me that wanted to plaster Instagram with a zillion photos of the white sandy shores of Casa Blancos. The part of me that wanted to post useful tweets like how to recognize the convertible peso and the national currency (or regular peso). I did a complete 180 and abandoned my cyber ship. I committed cybersuicide!! I deleted both my Twitter and Instagram accounts and stopped signing in to Facebook (choosing not to delete it as I still use Messenger to text friends).
In the following weeks I noticed two things: ONE: I was focused on things that really matter and TWO: I didn’t miss social media at all. In fact I was mortified upon realizing how much time I’d been spending online. If I choose to go online now it’s solely to stay abreast of local and international news or to figure out how to teach myself how to do something. And of course Netflix. No more mindless surfing.
I feel like I’ve come out of a dense fog. I’m reading more (text on paper) than ever. I’m focused on my health. I’m focused on planning our future. I’m focused on a desire to travel and see the world and to show my children what is theirs for the taking, what’s there waiting for them to look up from their e-devices. I’m working harder at my day job too, just because I’M FOCUSED!!!!!
So… to the social media… I’m breaking up with you. It’s been nice while it lasted. We’ve had some good times, but I gotta make time for more important things…