Lately, I noticed a disturbing trend regarding my social media usage. While I have never been one to obsessively check Facebook or Twitter, and even had set time limits for those apps on my phone, I noticed that I was checking them several times a day, and feeling more and more angry, stressed, and worst of all, judgmental while scrolling. It wasn’t providing any useful benefit, but was detracting from my state of mind.
I deactivated my Facebook account several weeks ago, stopped using Twitter, and uninstalled Instagram from my phone this very morning. And to be completely honest, I feel so much better not having that near-constant stream of, for lack of a better word, drivel, inundating my brain all day.
Social media has an innate tendency to both function as an echo chamber and increase divisiveness between people. I am a fairly liberal guy, but one of the things that pushed me the most to extricate myself from the Facebook cesspool was all my liberal friends dehumanizing conservatives, as if being conservative automatically makes one a bad person. And I found myself falling into that partisan trap and judging people that I didn’t even know because of the constant propaganda from social media painting them in a certain light. And I know for a fact that the vast majority of people I know who are conservative are wonderful people with whom I just happen to disagree with on certain issues.
One of the few positive effects to manifest from the pandemic and the lockdowns was the decreased pace of our lives. For a few months, we didn’t have preschool, dance, gymnastics, or group runs. And while I missed some of it, I enjoyed the new, relaxed lifestyle we cultivated. Removing social media is another way to reduce the amount of noise and stress in my life.
In the past, I would browse Instagram while in the bathroom (judge me if you want), or open up Facebook if I happened to see my phone on the counter. Now I have a better idea. I am currently reading several books, and bemoaning the lack of time I have to actually sit down and read them. I vow to replace any time I would have spent on social media with productive reading time, and maybe even finish one or two of the books I started this year. And maybe, just maybe, I can find some more time to write, which is a skill I lost to disuse many, many years ago.