We are in an age of revolutionary social connectivity. At no other point in history could one person be connected so completely with so many others than right now.
If Kim Kardashian West wanted to inform her millions of followers, at 3am, that she couldn’t sleep, she could, and they would all hear her and respond. In fact she did, on October 6th, 2019. Incredibly, This seemingly vanilla tweet has garnered 20,000 likes and over 350 comments to date. I only know this because I am one of her many followers that liked that tweet.
I was up late scrolling through my feed, saw the post, and decided that this asinine message to the world was right up my alley content wise. So, without thinking about it, I pressed the like button, then a wave of ennui welled up in me. What the hell was I doing?
What was I really getting out of this? Kim wouldn’t know me from Adam, so we don’t have much in the way of connection. My handful of followers outside of my real life friends were not likely to care about my like, and even they would only make fun of me for it.
The same could be said for a majority of my social media activity. I don’t post much, and my consumption has little impact on my life besides killing time. Would it matter if I just deleted it all, and would anyone notice if I disappeared from the virtual community? I aimed to find out.
I resolved to delete, or at least attempt to delete, the vast majority of my social media. The only outlets I would keep, are what I needed for school or work.
Once that was done, I would avoid communicating with anyone via virtual means. This included pms over websites, as well as text messages and phone calls. I was gonna get unplugged!
The first challenge came when I realized the sheer magnitude of social media that I was involved with. I had a lot of garbage to take out it seemed.
There were the obvious sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. But what exactly was the criteria for a resource to be considered social media?
The definition that I chose to go with, since “what is social media” seems to be a matter of some debate, was a part of the Oxford dictionary’s definition of social networking “dedicated websites and applications to interact with other users, or to find people”.
As such, the total number of mediums I attempted to purge was 38, covering 47 accounts, With 41 successful deletions.
I was unable to do away with several accounts for some pretty frustrating reasons. For example, according to every resource I could find It is impossible to delete a Youtube account without also deleting your Google account . This is because your profile, and thus your Youtube, is created automatically when you create an account for any google service, so the two are one in the same.
Meaning that the Gmail I needed to keep for work and school came with a lot of baggage. Namely a video service, a music service, a GPS, a web browser, a data storage system, and lastly, the email that I actually needed the account for.
Outside of this, and a few other exceptions, I was completely unplugged. I was feeling good… for a short while at least.
It only took an hour after I had finished deleting everything for the first wave of text messages to come in. My friends had just tried to message me on Discord, and found that my account was no longer there.
They were very worried. I have had issues with depression in the past and they had come to the conclusion that I was trying to push those close to me away as a means of dissociating.
My best friend, Bobby, even thought that I may be preparing to kill myself, and was cautioning that if I didn’t respond soon, that he would be contacting 911 to conduct a welness check on me.
I was touched.
I was also terrified.
I, of course, had to tell them what I was doing for their sake’s, even if I was breaking a rule. My friends understood, but still berated me for making them worry. They truly saw my going offline as a pretty big deal; and why shouldn’t they?
We primarily communicate with one another via discord. I’d like to think that we’d still be friends if I was completely offline, but I don’t think I’d be able to make the hour long trip to their places on a regular basis. If it weren’t for Discord, we would have drifted apart years ago.
I received various other messages from friends and family checking in to make sure I was okay. Some family members thought that I was attempting to go off grid, or do a social cleanse. A sort of cocoon into a butterfly thing, where I delete all my social media and make new ones .My sister even thought that I was trying to cut her out of my life. Which of course is ridiculous.
I feel that this reaction in particular is indicative of newer generations attitudes of social media and digitally assisted communication. We see it as a requirement to participate in society, when really it’s not.
Outside of not being able to talk with my friends and family as much as I wanted, the social media free life was rather nice.
I was able to focus on my hobbies more, talked with those around me more frequently, an even started going outside every once in a while.
In fact, I don’t think I will be returning to a majority of the sites I left, there doesn’t seem to be a need to.
Sure, I won’t be as up to date on current events or memes, but I find that stuff is getting less and less important to me as I age.
Maybe I’ll find something a bit more worthwhile to do with my time. God knows I’m not going to follow Kim K.’s Twitter anymore.