After a generously long holiday break, I started back at work today. So, naturally, I say hi to my coworker Sylvia—she usually gets there first, I get there second—and sit down at my desk, log in to email, clock in, whatever—and very quickly want to check Facebook.
(Perhaps also Instagram, my favorite. And I may as well sneak a peek at Twitter, too.)
Let me not, and say I did. Or better yet, not, and admit that I did not, and don’t later either.
Alex Pall and Drew Taggart, better known as The Chainsmokers, recently released a new single called “Sick Boy” and I listened to it on my way to work this morning. It could be a misinterpretation, but, it sure sounds like a observational commentary on the world we live in. A rather bleak commentary, but, such is our current state. One article I read juxtaposed lines from “Sick Boy” with lines from “#Selfie,” one of their first releases, and I will excerpt some of it here:
I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes
Do you think I should take it down?
Let me take another selfie
Make no mistake, I live in a prison
That I build myself, it is my religion
Welcome to the narcissism
We’re united under our indifference
Examining the lyrics this way makes it sound an awful lot like we have trapped ourselves in this prison of narcissism that is fueled by an addiction to social media, and to the feedback that we receive on these (usually idealistic, usually false) versions of ourselves that we project online. Worse: the majority of us does not care—and furthering that, the majority of us does not care that we waste hours each day curating these versions, and using them to interact with other idealistic versions of people online. Maybe they think they know us, because they see what we want them to see—but the reverse is also true. All you know of them might be no more than what they’ve decided they want to show you.
Well, I’m tired of wasting those hours. I don’t worry so much about my online relationships, partly because I have the naïve tendency to want to see the best in everybody and partly because my Facebook friends are people I know in real life. Also because Twitter is more impersonal, and Instagram, which is also my favorite, is just photography. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but, if the picture is a careful curation as well, then do those words still have the same meaning? (And anyway my Instagram feed is gorgeous. Not my photos, mind you, but the people I follow; my feed is like visual zen.)
So, I’ve decided to try that experiment people do where they stay off social media for an entire week. And I’ve almost completed the first day! Sort of. First—some guidelines:
- None of my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest feeds. I deleted the apps from my phone when I got to work this morning, even though I know I had at least one notification on Facebook. It will still be there next week. My coworker Eloísa showed me a cute video on her Facebook in the middle of this morning, but I deemed that okay because seeing a single video on her feed, over her shoulder in her office, is a lot different from me clicking over to my feed and then just mindlessly scrolling through it for 20 minutes.
- Facebook Messenger is more of a grey area; I don’t use it often so I’m not that concerned, though I do use it to communicate with two Creative Writing friends at UH. I sent a message yesterday and saw that I got a reply a few minutes ago, but I will see Andrew and Kelsey on Wednesday and we can talk then. Meanwhile, they’re my friends on Facebook so maybe they’ll read this post and know what I’m up to.
- My blog posts are automatically shared to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, so this post will go up even though I won’t be logging on to those sites. I won’t be seeing any “likes” or comments for the next week, though, so if anybody would like to leave me a response, it would be quicker to send me an email or to leave it as a comment on this site.
- I suppose blogging is technically a form of social media, but I actually really don’t scroll through my WordPress reader feed at all, so that won’t be a problem. Plus, I want to use my blog to document my adventure!
- Games like Dice With Buddies—which I really only play with my mother anyway—are okay. It certainly doesn’t hurt that I don’t chat.
I guess that covers about everything.
So, aside from the incidents I’ve already mentioned, Social Media Detox Diary for today:
- Between noon and 1:00 p.m. at work today, I was checking an ePub of 2017 title ¡Manteca! against the published book and came across a line of poetry I immediately wanted to tweet, and I had to stop myself. Instead, I texted it to myself so that I would remember to tweet it in a week, and then thought, maybe I’ll turn it into a cute Instagram post instead because I can have more creative freedom that way. Dylan pointed out that if I’m saving it to post on social media for a week, I’m not really detoxing well. But, baby steps…right?
- When I got home after 2:00 p.m. and was eating lunch, I turned on the TV and still immediately felt the urge to grab my phone and scroll through Facebook and Twitter and Instagram while eating—never mind the fact that they’re not there anymore. I didn’t, of course. But I wanted to. Then I was concerned about getting on my laptop because of how easily I just always click over to Facebook, but I’ve successfully stayed away from it all afternoon and evening! Even though I’m missing Instagram the most, I think it’s been easier than I thought it would be.
Let’s see how I do tomorrow. Better yet, let’s see how we all do tomorrow.
Life is worth more than any number of likes, retweets, comments. I hope I’ll remember that this week and do some real living for a change. I hope you will, too.