On social media

I changed my passwords on Instagram and Twitter, removed the newly saved password from my keychain, and deleted any and all related apps from my devices. I’m doing what I’ve been threatening to do for months now and pulling the plug on social media. I had been putting it off because somewhere, in the back of my head, I was hoping that the Internet would scoop me up and turn one of my hobbies into something profitable, as if by magic. It was a childish daydream, one that I was not willing to put the work into. Probably because I knew I didn’t really want to turn my art into my day job—I want it to remain art, something done in my free time in order to express myself and whittle away the hours, giving my hands something to do and my mind the opportunity to drift off into the void. But I also know I could never see myself in a 9-5 office job and it’s not something I want to acknowledge, because I’m convinced I’ll be accused of being selfish and lazy, for thinking I’m “too good” to do any real work. I think that’s my mom, still living rent-free in my head all these years.

I’m on day four. I often find myself photographing things and immediately wanting to post about it somewhere. It’s weird. I don’t know how I feel about it. Is the need to share every minute of my boring-ass life a point of shame? Could it be redirected to create something of more value? Why does it have to produce value at all? Why can’t it just…be? Is that, in itself, a copout? Just generating more questions for myself; no answers. Not even a hunch.

Otherwise, I’m surprised at how much I don’t miss any of it. This shit ate up hours of my day and yet with it gone, I find myself largely unaffected. Which I can’t really wrap my head around. Why did it feel so important, so imperative to scroll endlessly, for hours on end? I was putting in 5+ hours of screen time on my phone every day, and now it just doesn’t matter. It helps that I’ve had the holidays to distract me. And I think accepting that I don’t want a job that requires being perpetually online helps. I don’t want to market myself. I don’t want do marketing that’s attempting to not look like marketing: “building a presence” or “showing my work” or “working in public.” (though I can get behind the philosophy behind these tactics).

I know this choice means losing contact with a lot of people. There are friendships—or at least something that attempts to pass as friendship—will be lost. Maybe most, if not all of them. I’m okay with this. Almost glad for it. I’m tired of feigning closeness and interest where there is none. I don’t know if this makes me a sociopath or, at best, eccentric, but I have no desire to maintain friendships. I want to be alone, in my head as much as possible. My husband and my child are the extent of the socializing that I can handle anymore, and the idea of cutting myself off from the rest of the world is intoxicating. I’m tired of giving people every moment of my life, and I’m tired of consuming others.

This ultimately ties in my goal of completing a “no-buy year”/depth year of sorts, dramatically reducing my mindless consumption and impulse spending, and spending quality time with the things I already own: getting through my book piles, finishing video games I own, working through courses I’ve already bought, etc. I’m tired of acquiring, of the half-assed shallow pursuit of new skills or hobby and medicating/numbing myself with shopping. There is an inability to commit. To see difficult things through and get over my perfectionism and instead embracing the fact that I need to make, say, or write a lot of garbage to find the good stuff; better than chasing the dopamine rush of beginning a new hobby and then immediately forgetting about it after spending an unseemly amount of money on all the shit I thought I needed to pursue said hobby.

I’m tracking my lack of social media usage in a habit app; I’m curious to see how long I can keep this going. Whoever is here reading the blog will be the only ones who know about it, if I stick with it. Let’s see how long I can keep this up.

  1. Yes, Yes, YES! 💯 to all of this, Jenny. It’s amazing how much time we spend on social media because those companies are SO good at making us addicted to them. And I hear you on feeling as though you’re losing connections when letting them go. But for me, the connection was almost all one sided. It was ME looking into other people’s lives, wishing they were mine. But I have my own life and it takes time and energy to create the one I want. And I can create it when I’m not spending all day scrolling IG and thinking about all of the things I DON’T have time for. It’s all so bizarre!

    I remembered one other tip to help with the urge to scroll. After I deleted all of the apps from my phone, I downloaded duolingo and started lessons on there. Every time I get the urge to pick up my phone and scroll (even still), I just do a duolingo lesson instead. It doesn’t help with my screentime habit, but it does give me something to do instead of trying to find a way to see what’s happening on IG. And it feels much more productive!

    (I also hear you on not wanting a 9-5 job. I’m in the exact same boat!)

    1. Yes! What I did was download the journaling Day One, and I put that on my home screen along with the Kindle app. This way, I have two productive ways to use my phone front-and-center the moment I unlock my screen. I got the idea from Struthless on YouTube, from this video he did on replacing social media with “micro-journaling”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFvdHfhVIsQ (an overall amazing channel, highly recommend subscribing. Very charming man).

      “But I have my own life and it takes time and energy to create the one I want. And I can create it when I’m not spending all day scrolling IG and thinking about all of the things I DON’T have time for” – this is one of the things that pushed me to finally get these apps off my phone. I constantly caught myself daydreaming about all the amazing things I wanted to do with my life and convinced myself I didn’t have enough time, not fully appreciating the fact that I had plenty of time…it’s just I was spending it endlessly scrolling on my phone while doing said daydreaming. Sigh.

      The other thing is that I’ve fallen in love with my daughter’s school and their style of teaching, and got a job as an elementary substitute there. It is SO. MUCH. FUN. The classroom is designed around the idea that the children should have the final say in how they spend their time at school (albeit in a very carefully curated environment that helps direct their attention), so there’s no micromanaging the kids. They keep chickens, so recess is a wild no-man’s-land of children scrabbling over palettes while chickens roam the yard. It’s amazing. I want to do it for the rest of my life, and it doesn’t involve me trying to sell myself or sit in a cramped office while my soul slowly withers away.

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