I have been hiding a big secret, and only recently have I been found out. After I wrote a new post the other day, I was asked for my Instagram handle to tie in the with the post. Cue a slightly awkward pause before I replied, “I’m not on Instagram.” I think I also came up with a probably quite random excuse for this too.
I thought I had gotten away with it as well. Just as long as I don’t get asked for my Twitter handle, or a link to my Facebook page. No such luck; after my next post I was asked about Twitter. I was about to make another, even more random and probably strange, excuse as to why I’m not on Twitter either when I asked myself why I was embarrassed about admitting it.
So, with that in mind, here’s my confession: I’m not on social media.
At all. Well, apart from LinkedIn, but that doesn’t count.
I won’t spend the rest of this post claiming that my decision is the one true path to righteousness, or why I am so much better than everyone else, because I’m not.
But I will explain the reasons for my decision, and the effect it has and has had on my life, from good and bad sides.
I used to be on Facebook but I deleted my page about four years ago. There were a couple of reasons for this. One was that, as I was really going into the job market, I was very aware that there were probably many slightly embarrassing photos of me on mine and other people’s profiles, which I’d decided I now didn’t really want the whole world to see. More importantly though, I realised that, whenever I had a few minutes to kill, I was always looking at the Facebook app on my phone. This was the real catalyst. It upset me that, when I was supposedly bored or without anything to do, my default reaction was to go on social media and see what everyone else was doing. I thought that maybe my time could be much better spent doing other things, or even doing nothing and just taking a break from my phone and technology.
What started out as a decision to leave Facebook then somehow blossomed into a decision to stay away from other forms of social media. I’ve never really been much of a photographer, so Instagram was never really a natural fit, although I do like it and it is my favourite of the social media sites out there.
I do have a problem with Twitter though, mainly because it is the best example of uncontrollable technology. Social media networks are very new concepts and so of course are continuously ironing out kinks and problems, but one has to wonder if they will ever be able to control trolling and abuse. It seems to me that we have created things that we now can’t control. I think back to my childhood and a lot of it was spent building forts out of sofas, running around outside and playing sport; the world did seem a simpler place although childhood nostalgia always feels that way. However, would I want my future kids to be spending their time on social media in their childhood? I’m not so sure.
Don’t get me wrong though, social media can do a huge amount of good as well. It doesn’t have to be on a huge macro level either; just allowing friends in different countries to keep in touch is a worthwhile reason to be on Facebook, and that is the main justification for the majority of people who use social media, or so they say. I have probably missed out on keeping in touch with a lot of overseas friends, although I’m a firm believer that if everybody really wants to keep in touch, then we can always just call each other every once in a while.
Strangely, when I quit Facebook I wasn’t sure how I would manage without it. It turns out surprisingly well. I don’t miss it, really I don’t.
What I do find interesting though is my reticence to tell people that I’m not on social media. When the UNDO team were asking me for my social media handles, my first reaction was to try and think of ways around the question. And I think that is a very interesting commentary as to how social media has re-shaped our lives. I don’t think having social media would add to my life; I think it might make me feel a bit more shit every day when I see what other people want me to see them doing, and that might lead to a bit more social anxiety. So, in the meantime, ignorance is bliss and I’ll stay as I am. Quick question for you though: do you think you will still be using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in 10 years time?