For approximately the fifteenth time in two months, I deleted my social media accounts.
I opted to make no announcements, no fanfare, no countdown (Except for here. Ahem.). I went ahead and pulled the plug after spending a good chunk of last evening watching an hour-long video of Jaron Lanier (that I can’t link to because Freedom blocks YouTube from 8 to noon –while I’m supposed to be working) that piqued all of my paranoid tendencies …and made me realize that I’ve spent more time on Facebook than I have actually writing this week.
So, out it went, and not for the first time. The fact that I’ve done and undone this so many times should say something, should it not (“I can quit any time I want. Just as soon as I update my status…”)? And when I thought about the world in which I have my own corner of the internet to share my epiphanies and squirrel videos (here), it gave me a kind of peace. Especially when another friend of mine went on another sarcasm-drenched, paranoia-tinged political post streak. I have several friends that do this in varying degrees, so if you’re thinking it was you, it might not have been. It’s your prerogative if you go for social media activism; it’s just not my bag, baby. That headache-inducing blast of divisiveness and anger convinced me all the more that it’s time to give it the heave-ho. Out it went. And for good measure, I googled myself and removed my entry from a bunch of “people search” websites, just to make sure Big Brother has a harder time finding me. Don’t get me started about Alexa, Siri, and “Hey, Google.”
Six weeks off is what I’m giving myself. That’ll be long enough to make me have to completely reactivate and reassemble a profile if and when I go back, but then, a fresh start sounds like a really good thing at this point. Sure, I’ll miss some things, but overall, I have my very own infrequently-traveled internet real estate here, and I like being able to repaint the walls, lock the doors when I want to, and not have to deal with the social-media equivalent of vacuum-cleaner salespeople, cult followers, or political candidates knocking on my door.
Speaking of political candidates, probably the one thing that was the deciding factor was the influence social media has had on people I know. People that I used to know as reasonable, gentle people that have become drunk on (what they think is righteous anger but really is just) rage in the years since Twitter and Facebook became a thing. I don’t like what it’s done to people I know. I don’t like what it’s done to my country. In my observation, social media has done for interpersonal communication what sport utility vehicles have done for road rage. So, I’ve decided that I’m done being triggered multiple times a day by it. If you watch the Lanier C-Span “Book TV” video (highly recommend it –he’s an fascinating dude, in the Berkeley, dreadlocked, neo-hippie, “whatever, man…,” sense), listen for what he says about our 45th president and what he thinks Twitter’s done to him.
There but for the grace of God and too much time on social media go I, perhaps. If you can use it for good and in moderation, more power to you. As for me, I don’t have the time to mess with it any more. …And I have a rough draft of my paper that’s due in two weeks to write. If you see me on Facebook or Twitter again, just post a link to this, and I’ll be properly shamed into contrition.