Lately, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of deleting myself. Of somehow magically and methodically removing all traces of myself from the internet. It started with the news that Facebook is as terrible as I always joked that it was.
The company, and its leadership, are probably even more terrible than you already think billionaires are. Oh yeah, and they also own Instagram which has increasingly become a stream of ads for me.
Then Tumblr announced that it was removing all adult content from their site. And like…what are we doing being so concerned about “female-presenting” nipples? That’s the most ridiculous line I’ve ever read and honestly, among some of the most revolting faux-inclusive language. Damn near gives religious folks a run for their money.
And lest you think Twitter or Reddit are great alternatives. I’ll just throw in a reminder that both have ongoing and prevailing problems with bots, Nazis, and bigots.
Immediately the calls for abandoning the platforms came. People who have long-since left or never joined bragged about their foresight. For my part I felt a twinge a jealousy over this ability of others to let go somehow. To just give up this connection to…something?
I spend a lot of my time online. Much of that time is spent consuming content other folks put out. Not surprisingly, I’m a voracious reader of newspapers, magazines, short stories, and more. But I often find myself staring at a screen wondering what exactly am I doing clicking on the 56th picture of a golden doodle in an hour. What does this add to my life experience? Is this fleeting tiny moment of joy from this one photo actually worth my constant scrolling?
There’s something that feels like it would be peaceful about a life without social media in it.
It also feels like it might be lonely. For the most part, I communicate with folks in online spaces. Text and email are used minimally and even less do I talk on the phone. (Dear god, please let me see your face in-person and do not make me speak on the phone.)
I think of the ways I feel pressured to participate in activities, not because they are fun, but because they photograph well. Or the way, I sometimes feel compelled to cook and plate a dish just so because I think I may want to Instagram it. Or the way that I regret taking no photos at Thanksgiving, not because I didn’t have a good time or enjoy having so much family so close to my heart, but because I couldn’t humblebrag about the meal Z and I put together.
(We crushed it for first-timers.)
I think of the way teenagers are more depressed, suicidal, scared, and paranoid. I think about how hard it is to meet people. I think of all these things, and I think I need to free myself from this life of constant scrolling.
I just don’t know how exactly.
There’s the risk of loss of no longer possessing the ability to connect with folks in limited ways. But I think I’m moving towards this idea where I need to keep things to myself more than I have in the past. And maybe a way to do that is to shut down some of the distractions and focus instead on the things that I can control.
I guess too I’m wondering if some kind of social media break in my life means I’ll have more time to actively be doing things.
I love the phrase “consume less, create more.” But I am personally not great at doing such a thing. There is so much great STUFF out there and I want to see and enjoy all of it. But it does seem to come at the cost of not actually creating my own stuff. And I want to make stuff. I think I’m creative. I sometimes call myself a creator. I tell Z he’s a maker and aspiring Ron Swanson, but how can we make things when we’re so distracted by the glowing screens in our faces.
Maybe it is time to say goodbye to the constant buzzing and remove myself. Actually, it’s not time right now. But it’s coming. The more I think about it. The more I find myself wanting to find a way to make my life online more manageable and peaceful with my real life.
The internet isn’t fun anymore. At least, it isn’t for me. So in the New Year, I’ll be taking a step back at least for a short while to evaluate my life living it less publicly than before.
I’ll still blog, but right now I plan to leave most* other platforms behind. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll miss it. Maybe I won’t. But at least briefly, I can brag about living minimally or some such shit while I pickle onions.