I need to take a break from social media.
The one thing I dislike about my profession is how intertwined it is with things like Facebook and Twitter.
In reality though it’s a love/hate relationship: I love when I can mine stories from social media. I hate the person it turns me into when I get distracted by it.
Let me just preface all this by saying I have never really done the whole New Year’s resolution thing because I think it’s cliché and you should practice self-improvement when you want to, not on some arbitrary date.
But this year I’ve decided I want to try to find some way to limit my use of social media for non-work purposes.
This is really tough, because I’m essentially always on the lookout for events, story ideas, etc. on Facebook, so perhaps a more accurate way to phrase the above would be my resolution is not to get bogged down in the comment section.
If you use Facebook you probably know what I’m talking about.
The “I’m right, you’re wrong, no matter what” attitude.
The never-ending back and forth of two people typing over each other in a futile attempt to convince the other of a belief they are not open to being convinced of.
One of the things that frustrates me most is when I’m at home on a day off and I’m browsing Facebook, reading comment sections and arguments between people. Why am I wasting my time reading a 60-comment post on WTF Smithers? What does it accomplish?
Rhetorical question, but you get the point.
Something happens to people when they argue on social media. We don’t say things to people like we would in real life. Sure, this is partly because a lot of the time on the internet you don’t know who is on the other keyboard.
But I also see it in local groups where there is a lot more interconnectedness (and where I get the sense many people know each other, even if only by some degree of reputation), so I get the feeling it is not purely based on the anonymity factor.
If you’re familiar with Marshall McLuhan and the concept of how “the medium is the message” then you can appreciate how this relates to social media and how it transforms how we conduct ourselves on the platform. It changes us, and not always for the better.
And while I hate to bring him into it, whether you love him or hate him it’s hard to deny that Donald Trump could not have done what he did in 2016 before the age of social media.
In any event, I want out for a while. A social media reset, if you will.
In all honesty, the real resolution is becoming calmer, the social media aspect is just the means to the goal.
It’s like that Snickers ad — I’m not myself when I’m spending my free time reading some argument chain between a flat earther and a liberal arts major.
Maybe you aren’t either.
Despite this being an opinion piece, I don’t think it’s my place to tell people what to do. But I will say this: if any of this resonates with you, seriously consider trying to take a break from social media.
Part of me wishes I could just turn it off for a month. Perhaps that’s what I will do when I go home for a vacation eventually.
Even just over the last few weeks I’ve found myself much happier using social media more responsibly.
It’s not easy and I still catch myself messing up and realizing I’m reading too much into something —literally — but isn’t that the point of New Year’s resolutions?
Again, it’s a cliché, but there are so many incredible experiences to be had and (non-wireless) connections to be made out there in the WWW (the whole wide world).
Why spend your holidays getting mad when you could spend it creating incredible memories with your family?
Merry Christmas to all, and best of luck on any of your respective goals for the new decade (you know, since I won’t be reading as many of your statuses in 2020).