Moving away from the social media machine

Personal views on why I’m slowly disengaging with social media in general and looking towards other platforms of expression.

I know what you’re thinking (maybe). Oh here we go again, another blog post about how social media is stealing this guy’s information and censoring his speech and big business this and that and etc. etc. But that’s not what this is about. The reasons behind my move are a bit more personal and down to Earth than others. I’m not quite ready to quit it because it does have some use in today’s world, but for me I’m ready to minimize that usage.

How the mighty have fallen

These past few years have been a mess for Facebook. It has become a major battlefield for any and all controversial topics. Lawsuits and criticism on how they handle various situations puts them in a basically no-win situation. While I fully support freedom of speech, even on topics that I do not agree with, I don’t feel the need to support or criticize anyone for their views publicly just to showcase what I stand or do not stand for. Its not why I signed up for Facebook. I do not have the energy or patience to go out and argue with others online on topics where even with the presentation of true and solid evidence will not change people’s minds.

I enjoyed the sharing of photos and funny pictures with family and friends. Keeping up with people that went separate ways after high school and college to see them do awesome things and travel places. Watching kids grow up and telling people Happy Birthday even if you weren’t close to them or couldn’t attend the party. It really had some great benefits in today’s world of technology. Yes, it was during simpler times in the world, but watching Facebook transform over the years into what it is today is just not something I need to keep up with on a daily basis. It doesn’t represent who I am as a person.

A quiet test

Over the last few months I’ve basically stopped making posts and commenting / reacting to others. I’ve engaged a few times but not nearly at the level that I’ve engaged in previously. I’ve watched people battle for hours on topics where there were no winners, just people upset and more angry than when the argument started. I’ve seen false information shared and fought over despite legitimate evidence being presented to prove it wrong. I wasn’t taking part in these arguments before and have no intentions on starting now.

Fewer people are using the platform as a daily journal and support system and more people are using it as a way to vent frustrations and prove they are right at all costs. The ability to read local and national news and immediately go to the comments section to attack those that support or oppose the article can be beneficial if the arguments are supported by real evidence and people stop to listen. Unfortunately that’s typically not the case.

I’ve learned 2 things through this:

  1. Despite my quiet retreat, no one reached out to me outside of the family and friends I typically engage with outside of Facebook anyway. I’m not saying that they should have and I’m not faulting anyone for it, but it really puts things into perspective that if you’re not engaging on public posts regularly, there’s really no other engagement for me. And since I’m not engaging in posts by others, it feels useless to attempt to keep up with others at that level. Even specialized groups that should be talking about craft beer, music, technology, etc all seem to filled with arguments about things unrelated and people arguing for the sake of arguing because that’s what you do on social media for some reason.
  2. I’ve filled my time with more useful information. Instead of being concerned about what others are saying and doing, I’ve been a little more focused on myself and getting better as a person. It’s also going to be a driving factor behind this blog and what I want it to represent for myself. Instead of learning new things and ideas from Facebook, I’m looking more towards credible news sources and experts in fields to find new information instead of which article gets shared the most.

After trying out Facebook, Myspace, Google +, Instagram, and Twitter, it all seems to be a popularity contest these days and how hard you want to argue a point so others will support that same point. Even content creators have to get extremely lucky to get anywhere without first developing an army of supporters and paying for ads to get their page past their first and second circle of contacts. I have nothing to contribute via arguments or content so the drive to participate on these platforms is basically gone.

Moving forward

So while I’m becoming more and more against social media, I do recognize some benefits. I do run our company’s Facebook page which makes does fairly well. Being able to send out job openings locally and show off equipment and capabilities still fits into that platform.

I also will become a little more active on Linked In, which has seemed to stay professional for the most part. It markets itself properly and considering its more linked to your business personality, there seems to be a lot fewer of the issues that Facebook is currently facing for me. If I were to choose to invest time into a social media profile, Linked In is the easy winner. I’ve considered the idea of generating thoughts and engaging with Instagram and Twitter but at this point, I find the isolated platform of a blog to be more inviting.

Those that want to read can come read on their own pace and those that don’t simply don’t have to participate. I’m more interested in smaller conversations with like-minded people who want to have those conversations to advance their knowledge or share some of their own. I’m very open minded on most topics and typically do not take a hard stance on much. A platform like this seems as a more comfortable place to practice that mentality.

The less time I spend on Facebook, the more I realize that my quality of life will benefit from leaving it, or at least benefit controlling how much of it I consume regularly. The messenger app still allows friends and family to contact me directly if they ever need to, so I don’t feel disconnected as people continue to move away from phone calls and face to face interactions.

A call to arms

If you are reading this and agree that its something you should try, do it. There are more and more studies coming out about the negative impacts to your quality of life that are tied to social media. The need to be recognized and the want to be accepted can drive the worse out of people. Set yourself a game plan and try to follow it to slowly find a better balance of life and social media life and I’m sure you’ll see some of the same benefits that I have found from it. You don’t have to eliminate it, but setting up rules to follow is a good way to move forward.

Next time you open the Facebook app to scroll around or post a picture, take a moment to pause and close the app before moving forward. Close the app and wait 30 minutes. In those 30 minutes, do something, anything. Get a paper and write down what you did instead, even if it was just staring into space and waiting to get on Facebook. If you still want to post or participate after that, then do so. Try that once or twice a day. At a certain point you will find that in those 30 minutes you could do something meaningful for yourself or something around you. The paper will slowly fill with more useful actions and accomplishments than what Facebook can offer.

You can be a better person and live a calmer life without the consultation or acceptance of those around you for internet points that mean nothing. The ones that will follow your journey and goals are the ones that matter, not the ones trying to tear you down because they disagree.

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