Early this year, I did a massive clean up and decluttering of both physical and online “stuff”. It was a cathartic experience to ditch a lot of things, clean out the garage as well as streamline all documents, files, photos and videos on the cloud. It had to be done and now I can progress to other things.
One of the clean outs also meant that I got off most social media. Specifically, I deleted and deactivated Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. That includes other Messenger apps. I also deleted apps on my phone that I hardly use. I cleaned up my LinkedIn feed so now there’s nothing on my Feed – that is, I don’t see what people liked, followed or replied to. It’s a totally clean feed meaning I see nothing nor do I risk falling into the trap of mindless scrolling there.
I’ll keep LinkedIn only until such a time I stop work formally and don’t need to have some professional online profile. Similarly, Twitter is something I’m scratching my head about because with time, it’s actually losing value for me but I’ll keep it for now as many of my network still are on it.
The only social media app on my phone is Twitter which I delete when I have fits of anger some times (but I always end up putting it back on). For a long time, I’ve had all notifications and alerts off. I tend to rely on my own memory or Microsoft To Do list or even a physical calendar in the kitchen.
YouTube seems to be the website and the platform of choice for me now as I seem to be on it most always watching videos or learning something new.
What Have I Learned So Far
It’s been interesting to do this. However, it’s made me realise just how many people (friends AND family) that I have lost contact with.
For example a few of my cousins, I have sent text messages to advising them that I’m not on Facebook and there’s been no responses. Other times, I have called or sent messages and learned that their numbers or emails have changed. One of my aunts overseas contacted my parents to find out what had happened to me and my parents didn’t know. That then sent off a chain of alarm with my parents asking me why I got off Facebook and to call this aunt because she may have felt put out. *Sigh*
I have learned that my friends have tried to contact me through Facebook or any of the apps I deleted, only to find that they can’t see my profile anymore and a few even got irritated at me for doing this because they took offence that I may have been avoiding them! Some didn’t understand why I did this “after all, what’s so bad about it?”
Thing is, “it’s not bad if you can control it” but I just wanted a stronger connection with people. Also I don’t want my connection with them to be through social media. I think I’ve reached a point where I just want to go back to how things were before social media went ‘crazy’.
The lockdown in Melbourne last year switched something in my head.
I had decided that I needed to reconnect with people PHYSICALLY and SOCIALLY. Connecting with them by ‘liking’ or ‘commenting’ on a photo they shared was NOT what I called a friendship. The lockdown made me re-evaluate my friendships online – especially those that were in my own state and city – and to move them back to being “in person”.
Of course, social media is great for when you want to connect with people overseas too but I also realised that the level of the friendship I was looking for went beyond them just sharing comments and having a public conversation.
That is, if you’re basing someone as being a ‘friend’ and you’ve never met them in person, you don’t know what they look like, you don’t know their name or where they’re from, then no, they aren’t your friend. Social media sometimes confuses that.
I sent an email to many of my friends telling them of my deactivation of social media and it’s been lovely to get personal messages – and then meet up with many of them either online (if they were overseas) or in person. This action increased my meetups. It was just what I needed.
In some weird way, I know that getting rid of social media (and not taking on additional social media like ClubHouse, TikTok etc), means that I’m denying myself an opportunity to be in discussions with people – I may even be missing out on new ideas and insights in an online social setting but I’m okay with that. It also means I have no idea what my network is doing, what communities they’re part of (in fact, many of the looser ties have since disappeared, others have left social media themselves entirely).
I’m seeing this more and more as people are moving out of Twitter and going into new spaces. I’ve come to the realisation that there’s going to be a point in time when I’m going to be left behind.
And that’s totally okay with me.
Getting off social media can be a good thing but I’m putting it out there that it can also be an isolating experience. On the up side, you have HOURS back which you can devote to anything you want!
I’d say if you are thinking about it, you’ll have to accept that you’ll have to be the person to make contact, make plans, organise gatherings and meetings and really take a proactive approach to making your life social (in the physical sense).
Being in lockdown in Melbourne last year, made me seriously reconsider a lot of things in my life. By far, it was:
- Spend more time with my family
- To live each day as if it were my last
- To explore my creativity – and be creative – fully in different ways
- To continually be learning
- To laugh every day
- To spend more time in arts, music and cultural experiences
- To meet up with friends in person
- To focus on my mental health and well being
- To not deny myself anything when it comes to learning or experiences
- To travel more internationally
- To have people in my life who lead interesting lives themselves – people who come from all walks of life and who work to live and not live to work (let’s just say, we won’t be talking about work but instead talking about places they’ve been, books they’re read, foods they’ve eaten, wines they’ve drunk, men and women they’ve loved and lost).
- To work less
- To retire early (the plan is in 5 years time)