Why I Quit Social Media (Maybe) for Good

I have been under the weather these past few days. It’s a combination of the flu, the seasonal allergies, a mild case of muscle strain and last but not the least, the WebMD paranoia that I have cancer. This calls for a complete bed rest.

So I spent a whole night trying to be productive while on the bed, binge watching Ted Talks. I can’t sleep because of the discomfort of allergies, and these talks comfort me. I watched plenty of these very addictive talks. From comet hunting to the scientific explanation of the paranormal to how the brain works. But one talk caught my attention. Quit Social Media by Dr. Cal Newport. The title was a cliche. It was an old idea in this new world. But I clicked and watched it anyway.

 

I will not explain what Newport talked about nor will I post the link here. I am pretty sure that one way or another, you have planned on quitting too.

 

I had my fair share on quitting social media before. I quit a million times, and I kept on coming back. I have 2 reasons why.

First, I want to know what’s going on with the people around me. Friends, family, acquaintances. I do not want to miss the fun on group chats, group pages, new memes and the trends. It even makes my work easier, again, thanks to group chats. I work with a lot of SMEs and Facebook helps me become efficient, though texting and email are more formal.

 

Second, I want the people around me to know what’s happening to me. I confess that a huge percentage of this reason is to brag about stuff and experiences and most importantly, to brand myself. Face it. We all have that demon inside us.

 

People around me would notice that I was gone and they would convince me to return. I do return. Then I quit again. The next thing I know, it’s already a cycle. Then it hit me. This is how addiction works. I am addicted. I hate missing out. It’s like getting addicted to those exotic chicken throat which is delicious amidst the fact that they are bad for my health. I am not a smoker so I can’t use smoking as a metaphor.

 

To be honest, I am not sure if I will return. This was just my second day but this was my first time to write about this. I will take this blog post as a note to self and maybe a note for you.

 

Reflection as a social media addict (junkie):
  1. I branded myself with the wrong motives. I am not saying that branding oneself is wrong. We should all celebrate our uniqueness and shout it to the world. But if we brand ourselves so people can treat us based on our Facebook feed, then we have a problem there. I remembered myself posting stuff about Veganism, Vegetarianism and Animal Cruelty on Facebook. I wanted the people around me to see that I am a semi-perfect person with a healthy, complex diet who loves animals. Behind these post, I eat chicken. I love chicken so much. I still eat it while there was an outbreak of bird flu 20kms from the place where I write this post. In fact, I am not a fan of vegetables (I am trying!). I still believe that french fries are a healthier option. I can live without vegetables but I can’t live without chicken. I realized I am a poser on social media. And most of us are.
  2. I am becoming more unsocial. I saw this funny Youtube video about how the world consumes social media. The behavior of the users encompasses almost all cultures. Everybody is on their screens, posting almost everything even while in their toilets. It is becoming more and more universal. I remembered while I was on a train in Seoul with fellow Filipinos who we met at a theme park. We were laughing out loud, cherishing the experience we had in the park. We were not looking at our phones because we have no internet access in this foreign land.   Then a Korean in her mid-30s approached us and said, “This is a public place, so please do not be noisy”. She has a point of course, but when I scanned the place, all were looking at their phones. The school girls and school boys who were supposed to talk about their crushes are just staring at their phones. And at a micro level, this reflected my behavior too. I look at my phone while I am with friends who are also looking at their own phones. When was the last time we had a conversation with our friends without looking at our social media accounts?
  3. I am missing the fun of the present moment. I am currently at a coffee shop and I am scanning the tables around me. The table in front of me is an old lady with her 2 little cute grandsons. The three of them are playing this pretty cool game where you catch a fish using a magnetic fishing rod. We used to play this in the 90s with my cousins and this simple game is the definition of fun back then. The table on my right is a group of 5 men in their 60s. They are conversing with each other like those rich guys in the Titanic film (of course they were drinking lattes instead of brandy). None of them are carrying their phones. The rest of the tables are all bunch of millennials staring at their phones, taking selfies. Remove the Fisher Grandma and the Titanic Guys and you will get the feel of the Korean train, with a bunch of social media zombies. We are all missing the fun of good conversations and the smell of freshly baked bread and coffee.
In a nutshell, my social media use compromises my truth, my relationships, and my reality. It compromises my authenticity. I am not sure if this speaks to you or if you can relate. I am actually writing this in this blog of 20 followers, with 2 constant readers, 1 constant critique and the rest are spam accounts. So most likely, I am writing this for me.
I cannot write yet the benefits of this “project”, if this will improve my relationships or if I will be more productive without social media. Let me try it first and I will let you know in the next few days if it really helped.

 

I would like to end this post with a quote by Dr. Cal Newport. He is the speaker of the above-mentioned Ted Talk and the author of Deep Work which I started reading a month ago.

 

But part of what makes social media insidious is that the companies that profit from your attention have succeeded with a masterful marking coup: convincing our culture that if you don’t use their products you might miss out.

 

In my own words, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will be more addictive in the next days, months or years. If you cannot quit, at least you control.

 

Have a happy social media free life!

Featured Image: Shunan City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Chugoku Region, Japan, November 10, 2015.

3 thoughts on “Why I Quit Social Media (Maybe) for Good

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