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A month ago I deleted all my social media accounts.
When I tell people that I’m no longer on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all the rest, I get one of two reactions:
- *GASP* How did you do that? I love social media…can’t live without it! Don’t you feel so lonely and disconnected? How do you stay informed?
- OMG! I would love to quit social media but I need it for _____________ (my business, to see pictures of my grandkids, to stay in touch with old friends, to find out about local events, etc).
I won’t deny that social media can be a beautiful, convenient tool for keeping in touch with people…but everything in this world is a blend of both good and bad…
…and in my experience with social media, the bad FAR outweighs the good.
*This might be a little long, but it’s a massively important conversation, so I hope you’ll take the time to read to the end.*
But then three things happened in my life that woke up me and made me take a long hard look at the effects social media were having on my life:
- I found myself on the verge of deep depression.
My Facebook feed had become a constant stream of hateful political articles, terrifying pandemic statistics, and images of violent protests. Everyday, throughout the day, I was surrounding myself with drama, chaos, arguing, and dehumanizing social behavior. That, combined with the stress of daily life, (raising kids, running a business, keeping up with laundry, making hard decisions related to safety and COVID-19) sent me down a spiral of dark thoughts that I couldn’t break free from. It was ugly and scary and I knew something needed to change fast.
- I constantly felt like there wasn’t enough time.
All summer long, I felt like there wasn’t enough time to get anything done. I’d flit from one thing to the next, but my to-do list only seemed to get bigger, not shorter. I felt pulled in a million different directions…frustrated that I wasn’t really accomplishing anything…and became completely irritable and grouchy about it. I couldn’t figure out why I was spinning my wheels all the time…I just knew I hated it.
- I watched the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma.
Holy shit. That film is an eye opener. I bawled my face off through the whole thing…and not because it’s particularly sad, but because it put into words what I’d been feeling about social media for YEARS! It validated the emotional response I was having to it and explained why social media felt so poisonous to me. (If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely need to watch it.)
Those three things led me to do some deep research on how social media really works…what it does…what its purpose is…how it effects the brain and human behavior. And the truth of it all scared the piss out of me…and pissed me off.
I realized that social media was eating away at my soul, my time, my relationships, my perspective, and my dignity.
So, I decided to quit for the following 10 reasons:
- I recognized my addiction to it and how much it was affecting my emotional well-being.
Just like an alcoholic needs to get rid of all the alcohol in their home or they’ll be too tempted to drink, I don’t have the ability to limit my use of social media. If it’s there, I use it, and use it too much…and it makes me unhappy (more on that in a sec). I’ve tried taking apps off my phone, scheduling certain times to check it, etc. and none of that works for me. So, away it all went.
- I’ve experienced the mental and emotional consequences of social media first hand.
Lowered self esteem by comparing myself to others, feeling insignificant because “no one” likes my posts or follows me, feeling like I’m not doing enough fast enough, feeling angry and enraged by opinions and political views that differ from mine, and feeling both irritated and guilty for judging other people.AND I’ve seen my clients experience the very same effects of social media. Research supports there’s been a 120% increase in self harming behavior, hospitalizations, and suicide among girls ages 10-14 because of social media use. I can’t, in good conscience, be part of something that causes such harm to people- including myself.
- I want deep, meaningful relationships with other humans, not superficial relationships.
I want long conversations with real vulnerability. I want handwritten letters that carry more meaning because you know it took time to write. I want face-to-face connections. I don’t want the posts I see on social media, the childish rants people feel comfortable displaying there, or the snarky comments shared to get in the way of having positive relationships with others. I want to end the polarization that social media creates and perpetuates.
- I don’t want to be a product or commodity that is bought and sold.
What does social media sell? PEOPLE. Social media companies sell the manipulation of our behavior and profit from coercing us. They profit from our emotional upset over fake news. They profit by manipulating our buying habits, which is done by gathering very personal information about our preferences and using it against us.
- I want to make space for deep work- focused, intentional, get-in-the-flow type of work.
Social media interferes with the practice of maintaining my attention for prolonged periods of time and lowers my performance and productivity. I’ve wondered how much better my work could be if my mind wasn’t always wondering what was happening on Facebook or Instagram or constantly checking my phone. Plus, I absolutely hate taking time away from creative work, like writing and teaching, to plan and schedule social posts. So, I decided to stop doing things I hate.
- I want to live in the present moment, taking it all in and savoring each experience rather than trying to capture my life in photos and videos to share with strangers.
I’ve often felt pressure to bring my phone with me all the time just so I could engage on social, when all I really wanted to do was enjoy quality time with people I love, while having awesome adventures or playing. Getting rid of social media eliminates the pressure to share those precious, private moments with others.
- I want more time to truly relax, and play…to disconnect and pay attention to the world around me.
This is about living mindfully, simply, and sustainably. Social media is the exact opposite of that way of living. It’s noisy, relentless, busy, pushy, dramatic, and overwhelming. (At least that’s how it feels to me.) I’m really into minimalism- in all forms- including digital minimalism.
- Social media costs me a boatload of money that I’d rather use for better purposes.
I’ve spent money on Facebook Ads, Facebook Ad management, social media management, and graphics for social posts. That adds up to an enormous amount of money and I’d rather spend that money on travel or save it for retirement or donate it to an organization that isn’t in the business of damaging people’s minds and making them addicted to their phones.
- I want to protect my children from the dangers of social media.
The best way to do that is to lead by example. The best way to model what reasonable use of technology looks like is to do that myself. I’m ashamed of how I’ve behaved in front of my kids because of social media. No longer will I lose my temper with them over something I just saw on Facebook or ignore these precious moments of their childhood because I’m distracted by selfies.
- I want to be challenged and stretched to grow my business in authentic, genuine, generous ways, rather than convenient, fast, or “copycat” ways.
I’ve seen how other entrepreneurs grow their businesses using social media, and I’m not a big fan of some of the tactics people resort to. They’re not all bad…they just don’t resonate with me and the way I want clients to experience working with me. Growing my business “the old fashioned way” will likely be more difficult and time consuming. But even if it takes me longer, I know that the challenge of figuring out different ways to connect and introduce people to my work will help me grow as a human…and I don’t want to miss out on that.
Here's how quitting social media has changed my life for the better (in just 30 days):
- I’m happier- by a gazillion percent.
- I’ve read 4 books this month (a book a week) and feel smarter and better informed than I have in a decade.
- I’ve had beautiful, intimate conversations with close friends on the phone that were a million times more meaningful than a “Like” on a post.
- I sent a handwritten letter to a friend I haven’t talked to in years…and that felt wonderful to me.
- Writing creative content has felt easier and more fun (because I’m not as worried about whether or not people will like and share it).
- I take hour long walks EVERYDAY (heaven on Earth!) because I have more time to do things like that.
- I play more games with my kids, have more sex with my husband, and spend more time daydreaming (one of my favorite things ever).
- I take more time each morning to snuggle my cat. (This might seem insignificant, but my cat is very particular and will only let me cuddle with her in the morning. So, it’s a big deal.)
- I feel more human. Kinder, more patient, more empathetic, less competitive, and friendlier.
- I feel free…to be who I am, to do things differently, to do what feels good to me and live life on my own terms without having to explain myself to anyone.
Here's why I'm sharing all this with you:
I’m not trying to convince you to quit social media like I did. That would be as manipulative and shady as Facebook trying to influence who you vote for by cycling fake news through your feed (which they absolutely do).
I just want you to know that you have OPTIONS. You don’t have to be on social media- even if you’re trying to grow a business or keep in touch with people you care about.
There are other ways to get noticed, connect, share, and learn…and those ways of living and being are worth exploring.
When it comes to the costs of social media, you don’t have to take my word for it. Do the research for yourself. Think about how social media impacts your life- for better or worse. Reflect on what’s really important to you and what you stand for, and make decisions for yourself about how you want to use social media (or don’t want to use it).
Here are some resourses that you might find valuable as you consider the role social media plays in your life:
- Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier
- Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff
The Takeaway: you don't have to do anything simply because everyone else is doing it.
If it doesn’t feel good to you, don’t do it. Be different. Explore other options (there’s a ton of them).
There are a bazillion ways to grow your business. Social media is just ONE way.
There are a bazillion ways to make money. Social media is not a necessity for earning a great living.
There are a bazillion ways to connect with people. Social media is ONE way to do that, but there are far better ways to nurture meaningful relationships.
Trust your gut. Think with your own brain. Do your own thing. It will be magnificent.
Wanna talk more about this topic with me? I’d love to hear your perspective on this. Contact me here.