If a blog post emerges in the blogosphere without any social media account to promote it, does it make a sound?
I’m about to find out!
That’s right–I permanently deleted my Twitter account (which had almost 1,400 followers) as well as my Instagram and Facebook accounts, which included the page for this site and its nearly 1000 followers, as you can see in this screenshot I took of my sidebar badge just before deleting it:
This site has only five or six followers outside of social media, so this post won’t make much of a dent in the ‘Net without social media. Do I care? NOPE. I’ll explain below.
I have discovered that I value saving time and peace of mind more than that I value gaining followers for my blog. And it hasn’t negatively impacted my business, either. Read on to find out why/how:
(Actually, I kept my LinkedIn page, but since I don’t ever *do* anything on LinkedIn, I don’t consider it a social network, but more of the page where I maintain my resume. I suppose I could share this post on LinkedIn, since it has a newsfeed, but still, the posts in that newsfeed are always several days old, even though I have twice as many LinkedIn connections as I did Facebook friends, so there just isn’t much traffic on that site. Which is a good thing, as this post will show)
Here is why I gave up social media:
–It is bad for mental health, experts warn: http://theconversation.com/mental-health-the-dangers-of-the-social-media-diagnosis-90717
–It is designed to be addictive for profit’s sake, to the extent that executives who work for social media giants won’t even let their children use it: http://theconversation.com/mental-health-the-dangers-of-the-social-media-diagnosis-90717
–Foreign powers use social to manipulate users: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/us/politics/russian-operatives-facebook-twitter.html
–Social media giants let **scientists use social to manipulate users’ emotions for scientific studies without their consent or knowledge: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/30/technology/facebook-tinkers-with-users-emotions-in-news-feed-experiment-stirring-outcry.html
–It took up too much of my time (checking in on all my friends and family, near and far, was just too irresistible when I had other things I needed to be doing!)
–Most of what I saw there was negative (nobody needs more negativity in their lives!)
–The benefits to my business were absolutely nil; I get all of my client referrals from the Association of Professional Genealogists website. Genealogy clients today all find me, almost universally, from my APG directory page and not via social media, so I don’t need a social media presence.
–I do, however, still get the occasional referral from LinkedIn, and that site is neither addicting, time-wasting, negative, nor manipulated by foreign powers or sociology professors (that I know of–or if it were, I don’t linger in their newsfeed anyway, so it can’t affect me), so I don’t mind keeping my resume posted there, as I consider it more of an online resume than a social network.
**Regarding the “negative newsfeed” scientific experiments conducted on Facebook users without their knowledge/consent: when my husband was working on his doctorate, it took him YEARS to find a site to conduct his study because he wanted to conduct a *brief* survey. It took him years to get his small survey approved because he was administering a survey to humans, and there are all sorts of federal laws that must be honored when studying humans (human subject studies law is a huge thing–you can Google it!) and the places where he wanted to conduct his survey kept turning down his proposal because they didn’t have the manpower to jump through all the legal/federal hoops required to monitor his survey and make sure it met with federal human subject testing laws. And this was for one tiny survey. Now consider how Facebook just let a professor bypass all those federal laws and inundate users with negativity as part of a science experiment with zero consequences–who is responsible for that? Is Facebook now liable for any suicides or murders that occurred in the days and months after they fed their users all of that negativity? Are they responsible for the depression and divorces that might have resulted? THIS is why we have federal laws on the books about using humans for psychological studies, yet Facebook and other social media sites flout federal law when it comes to treatment of human subjects.
And don’t even get me started on the way some users treat each other on those sites. That proof is already in the pudding (and life is much sweeter without it!).
I have taken breaks from Facebook before (my longest stretch was 3 months) but those were always temporary deactivations when life got busy. I always came back later, and I always had Twitter or Instagram as backup drugs for my social media high. I was especially sentimental about staying because my youngest sister, who passed away, has a memorial page on Facebook, and I enjoy posting to it on the anniversary of her death or on her birthday. But one day it hit me: she isn’t there. I know where she really is. And if I am missing her, I will send a letter or care package to her children or donate to a charity in her name. That’s something that *really* matters.
Since going cold turkey with these permanent deletions, I must say that my mind didn’t feel as peaceful and zen as I thought it would. At first, it was troubled! Every time I sat down, I’d pick up my phone–out of sheer habit! Only now, there was no longer anything to DO on my phone. I had a few good kindle books I could be reading, but I like to read when I have time to really get into the narrative. I typically only have 5 minutes or so of phone-checking time in one stretch (such is life at my house!) and those were the times when I’d hop on to social media. Ditto for standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for water to boil, whatever–I’d grab my phone and see what my friends or followers had to say or had posted that day.
So at first, I was a bit lost. What to do with myself during those tiny snatches of time when I would usually check in with my friends/followers, but I don’t have enough time to say, read emails or a Kindle book? I was frustrated and fiddled with my phone a lot in those first weeks. I tossed it around in my hands nervously. My husband used to watch me and laugh, saying, “I see you fidgeting with that phone with nothing to do on it!” (Note: I refuse to use video games. I’ve seen what gaming does to a person, and I refuse to go down that road, either!).
But with time, I calmed down, and soon stopped picking up the phone at all. It stays in my purse now, or on my desk, nearly forgotten. Now, in those chunks of time in between tasks, or other moments of downtime, I am more likely to gaze out the window and think. Or I look around me at the people in the room and strike up a conversation. I ask them about their day. Hey, I gotta do SOMETHING–I have just been cut off to my only outlet for socializing with my friends, so I am suddenly much more chatty with my kids and husband. My husband isn’t much of a talker, but I can tell that my kids like it. And the times when I am alone? Well, looking out at the trees and just thinking has proved very beneficial for my mind, my soul, and my creative processes. Ideas, solutions, and inspiration flow more freely, now that I am not looking down at a device like I used to.
Best of all: I have more TIME creeping in to my post-work hours now. Time for my own ancestors, time with family, time to read. It really adds up, the time I used to spend on social media. I hadn’t realized just how much time I spent on it until I eliminated it, but all the articles that social media posts linked to, the videos they took me to, the conversations I was having–they all added up to TIME away from other things I could be doing. Now I am finally doing those things. And I am happier now that I am doing them. The social media-free life has turned out to be a much happier life for me. Might not be this way for everybody, but this is how it is for me.
I am really, really glad that I gave up social media. I do not miss it, not in the slightest, and I don’t ever, ever plan to go back to it.
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