Yesterday, after almost four years of daily use, I deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts.
I deleted them for two main reasons:
The Shift Away From Unique Content
I was dragged kicking and screaming on to Twitter but thoroughly enjoyed it for many years. I was able to make connections with people I would not have otherwise met, I learned new and exciting things, and I laughed a lot. When Twitter added the Lists feature (essentially a popularity system) I knew things were heading in a direction I wouldn't enjoy. When Twitter switched to New Twitter, I immediately switched back. It was becoming too commercialized, too ad focused. Content was also shifting away from original content. People were linking their numerous other social media profiles and their various smart phone applications to their Twitter/Facebook accounts. My Twitter and Facebook streams were becoming fields of automatic messages. And to me these messages screamed, Look at me! Look at me! Validate that I am important!!! The escalating noise eventually drowned out any actual signal.
The Way I Was Using It
Although I cut my use of social media a lot in the past year, I still spent at least 4 hours a day on it. I didn't like how I was spending my time: looking at other people's children instead of doing the work it would take to have some of my own, sending out quick updates to online friends but never finding the time to actually call a friend. Recently, and much to my disgust, when my husband was frustrated with me, I actually thought, "It's OK that he's upset, because I have friends on Twitter that think I'm funny."
What began four years ago as a neat way to connect with people had turned into a hollow excuse for not having to be alone, a way to keep me occupied so I wouldn't have to think about whether I was living the life I wanted. And this constant barrage of information made me tired, so tired that when I did have the opportunity to see people I was already half drained.
Deleting the Facebook account was easy. It took me longer to decide to delete my Twitter account. I was actually shaking when I did it, like I was cutting away a safety net.
So today marks the first day of my silence on social media. The first day of re-establishing and nurturing relationships in "real" life. I considered deleting this blog also, but have decided it will stay. I enjoy sharing things with people, I just needed to eliminate the garbage, slow the merry go round down and spend more time with myself.
FYI: Sherry Turkle wrote a fabulous book about many of the issues I just talked about: Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other. I highly recommend it.