Over the past few months I cancelled most of my mainstream social media accounts. I posted a version of the following notice to my social media accounts:
Goodbye Facebook, Twitter, Google, et al. I can't take part in another 4 years of the American Politics Reality Show. These Internet spaces have become megaphones for the mainstream media to spin their tiresome narratives.
Facebook was my medium to keep in touch with people I'd have lost touch with otherwise. From those I met along the way, people I'd grown up with, I got to share in their joys, accomplishments, and sorrows--it made for a meaningful place.
But with ever-increasing advertising, politics, tracking, and mainstream media pervasiveness, the signal-to-noise ratio has drowned out the meaningful parts.
Why the exit?
There is a race-to-the-bottom happening now on what we've come to call social media. There has been a notable increase in advertising, an increase in tracking and privacy concerns, and an increase by participants to pass judgment and comment on every article in the constant 24-hour news barrage. This content is delivered in a stock-ticker-like feed with the expectation of constant attention, otherwise you'll miss the next big thing, instilling in us a fear of missing out (FOMO).
We all have our breaking-points or proverbial straws for being overwhelmed. The recent US Election was mine. The noise overcame the signal and I could no longer wade through the garbage searching for meaningful bits. The 'social' aspect of social media was drowned out. It became time to say goodbye to this generation of social media platform.
How should we keep in touch online without social media?
The only solution I can see is making sure you have email addresses to reach out to people. Everyone still has email addresses.
One of my favourite things is reconnecting with people after time apart. With tools like Facebook, this rarely happens now. It feels weird not to see someone for a while, then you reconnect in person and already know much about what's gone on in their lives. It takes the intimacy out of the person-to-person conversation of catching-up.
I'd rather get the yearly email update from old friends, like a Christmas card, than to track their lives voyeuristically (creepily) through their Facebook profiles.
Before leaving Facebook I made sure I kept a birthday calendar and email addresses of people I didn't want to lose touch with.
'Traditional' Online Communities
There are a few web-based forums and discussion groups I still participate in. It is less time consuming, everything is still chronological, and the time I spend on them is a little more focused on particular topics of interest: technology, photography, software business, etc. I'll stick with these for now as long as the signal-to-noise ratio remains high. I may delve back into IRC for particular topics if I feel I need a more real-time online discussion.
Instagram--for the time being. I'm not sure how long this will last. Engaging in Instagram was an experiment of sorts for me anyway. It's also feed-based, so I tread lightly here. So far my feed is interesting and it gives me an outlet for my photography. By mid-2017 I will likely move on from this remaining social media holdout.
My advice for others
Reach out to people in meaningful ways, not just through 'like' buttons. Ask people about their lives, not just follow them as a voyeur. Engage in nuanced and complex discussions, not just through 140-character judgments. Read well-researched articles, not just quasi-fictional anecdotes and narratives that fit your views.
1 comment on 'Goodbye Facebook, Goodbye Google+, Goodbye Twitter, Goodbye LinkedIn, ... Goodbye Social Media'
Hi Steve, I totally agree with you on restricting yourself from the current social media. By the way I am following the tutorials on a career management websites and found them to be extremely helpful.