I deleted my Reddit and Facebook accounts back in July and August respectively. I quit Reddit because they don’t do enough to fight blatant racism and misogyny. Also I was wasting too much time on the site. Thirdly, I found that the anonymity often encouraged mean or disparaging comments (though, to be fair, there were just as many clever, helpful, and/or friendly comments).
I quit Facebook because 1) I was seeing too many posts from random people I didn’t know, 2) my time on the site wasn’t strengthening or enhancing the relationships I cared about most, and 3) I wasn’t enjoying time on the site. Also because of various privacy violations.
So I went cold turkey. Nuke option in both cases, account deleted, no going back (unless, of course, I decided to go back and start from zero karma and zero friends, respectively).
Going to reddit proved to be the harder habit to break. When I was bored or my work became too mentally demanding, I would feel a strong impulse to open a browser and type “r” into the URL bar. I successfully resisted the impulse, but it took some effort. A few days ago I decided to take a conscious look at the front page of reddit as a test. Sure, some of the posts looked “interesting” but seeing the site again didn’t trigger major FOMO. It’s really OK if I don’t see all the cute animal pictures and slapstick videos and read the heart-warming/enraging/fascinating articles. I will continue to abstain even if reddit decides to purge the hate subs.
Quitting Facebook created a minor dilemma: how I would I continue to co-administer my two existing music-related Facebook groups? I ended up creating a pseudonym account and friending exactly two people — those who could grant me admin control of the groups. So I still see a few personal posts from my two friends when I log in to make a post on the Loöq FB page (please Like if you want updates). That’s fine — it’s the perfect amount of Facebook.
Other Social Media Platforms
I continue to use Twitter. Twitter is a source of information and news that interests me that is not covered by mainstream media. It’s also a way to amplify stories and opinions that I think deserve more attention, and to share my own posts and random thoughts. I enjoy the fact that Twitter is NOT primarily based on real life social relationships. There is no obligation on Twitter to pay attention to or acknowledge something unless it genuinely interests you. I also use Twitter as a way to “bookmark” articles that interest me (by tweeting or retweeting them).
I also deleted my nascent Instragram account during the “purge.” Nothing against Instagram — it just wasn’t a good fit for me. I don’t take very many pictures, and I don’t spend a lot of time looking at pictures.
I still have LinkedIn and GooglePlus profiles, but I’m not in the habit of going to either site and wasting time. I like having a LinkedIn profile simply because new potential clients can take a look at my work history there.
I haven’t yet tried out any of the newer social media platforms like SnapChat, WhatsApp, Vine, or Beme. I’ll join whatever is still around when/if my daughter joins them.
What Is It For?
Back in the days of Friendster, Tribe, and MySpace (anybody remember those?) I felt an obligation to create a profile every time a new social media company launched. Now there are so many — that would be a full-time job if you attempted it. Just as well. It makes more sense to ask yourself “how will this improve my life?” before jumping in. Why use a particular social media platform? How does it enhance your life (and/or the lives of others)?
Actually I take that back. It makes more sense to jump in and try it, then evaluate after a few days or weeks. It’s impossible to know what will enhance your life before you try it. I briefly tried Pinterest. Great site, and I can see how some people get obsessed with it, but it wasn’t for me. Twitter, on the other hands, still fascinates me. I get to see what William Gibson (one of the first writers to deeply influence me), is thinking about from minute to minute!
Effects on Productivity and Psychological State
I would estimate that quitting both Facebook and Reddit has boosted my mood and productivity by about 10%. Though I still look at random things on the internet, my total screen time is reduced. I take just as many breaks from work (often multiple breaks an hour) but instead of going to reddit or Facebook I more often take short walks, do some chores around the house, or run errands. When I do surf the internet I have the sense that I’m curating my own experience to a larger degree, instead of paying attention to a feed or filtered/upvoted content.
Why have I experienced a mood boost from quitting those sites? I’m not sure exactly. Maybe there was a certain “outside looking in” feeling when I looked at Facebook posts.
Be A Quitter?
Why do you use (or not use) various social media platforms? Which ones have you quit and then gone back to? Quit and never looked back?