This isn’t a smug post about how I quit Facebook. At least that isn’t the intention. It really is about intentions. Was my leaving Facebook triggered by the Cambridge Analytica scandal? A little bit, but only in that it made me start thinking about what I actually did on there. I realised, which is probably the same for a lot of people, that I would wake up every morning and just scroll. A like here, a like here, and then scrolling for two hours. At some point I had decided that I would tailor my social media content to stuff that was interesting, but I never read any articles. I was simply wasting time.
I convinced myself that I needed social media. For networking, for keeping in touch. I thought it would be a good idea to just delete it and see what happened. I think it’s been about a month. I tried Instagram instead, talking myself into believing that I would post a photo every day as a sort of diary. Instead I just ended up scrolling through even more inane content.
Finishing up my degree contributed too. I felt like looking through social media not only made procrastinate, but contributed to my stress. There were all these things happening, and I wasn’t there, I wasn’t on top of things. I was torn between reading the books I actually had to read, and a never-ending list of books I wanted to read, movies I wanted to watch, stuff I just had to do.
What else? Maybe a little bit, our wedding. Turning thirty-three this year too. Thinking about what matters, and who matters. It’s so easy to write a post, to click a like, to share a photo, but I don’t feel like that counts for actual engagement. It’s so easy to click ‘yes’ on an invitation and then never turn up. So why have 800 friends who constantly like your posts, when the influence of deeper interaction probably stands at about ten?
That isn’t to say I need to hear from friends every day, every week. I’ve realised I would much rather have a meaningful e-mail, some sort of phone call, or when possible a coffee every three months than some form of quick weekly ‘like’ on a photo. It’s also not homogenous. I have brilliant friends who live in America and I only interact with them on Twitter, but it’s meaningful and I like it. I have friends I see physically. I have friends I email. There’s no expectations, and I don’t want them.
This isn’t about the evils of the internet, or of going online. It’s not even about being better somehow, or hating social media. I still have Twitter, and WhatsApp. I want to work on this blog even more. It’s about what works for you. I’ve been signing up to mailing lists with an email address specifically for them. It means I receive the content from websites I actually want to read, I don’t have to wade through adverts and comments.
The best part is how much time I feel I have. I still procrastinate online more than I would like to, but I am working on it. I am reading so much more. I’ve been watching TV and films and listening to music and sometimes just doing nothing and enjoying it, and I love it. It’s not about attaining perfection, but just about…feeling good. This feels good.
I don’t think technological progress or societal progress always equates betterment somehow. It also doesn’t mean I want to go live in the woods, not yet anyway. I just took a moment to question what I was doing, and why. What felt right and what didn’t. What would work better. A more intentional life.
Intentions. I’m still on Twitter, still on WhatsApp, still have an email. I haven’t disappeared. It’s been amusing to see the small amount of people who have realised my Facebook has disappeared. It’s a nice lesson for the ego.
I’m trying out a mailing list. The sign-up is at the bottom of the page. I don’t know what it will be, I barely know how it works. That’s nice in its own way, figuring it out. Maybe notifications of new blog posts, or weekly digests. Who knows. Less 140 character knee-jerk reactions and more long-form thoughts on the things I like. Less filtered 90-photo posts of our holidays and more about what I really experienced when I travelled.