5 Things I’ve Learned Coming Away From Social Media

I am, I believe a few days into the break from Twitter and Facebook, and it’s still amusing and astonishing in equal measure. 

1. The time you have. I get my daily pages done, apply for jobs, read the news and pop culture sites I find interesting and amusing, I walk the dog and listen to podcasts, spend time with my family and all in the same 24 hour period that I used to spend hunched over, refreshing the timeline to see what people were angry/happy/horny/bored about. 

2. Thinking. I have come to believe that you can learn more by having a good think, a dialogue with yourself in such a way that you can test your opinions in the privacy of your own head. Imaginary evocation dialogues are a good thing, especially when invoking or challenging archetypal parts of yourself. I have done a few on here, but away from the digital collective unconscious that represents social media, you get to think what you want to think, free of influence. Marilyn Manson once said, I believe, that truly original art isn’t coming to light because of the connectivity/rush to publish that the internet has produced, which I think has some merit. 

3.  Lack of status anxiety. I used to find that rather than decrease isolation, social media actually made it worse because you could see the raw flow of human interaction, send messages and get no response, which might just have been my experience of it but without it, I am enjoying the relative isolation and the richness of interaction that you get when people have to reach you or you have to reach other people. The corse cost is higher, but the trade off is the reward.

4.  Ignorance. It’s never a good thing generally, but some of my friends on FB/Twitter are either obsessive with particular memes/ideological complaints. I’ve not seen a GIF concerned about boycotting Subway for what is 10% of it’s restaurants serving halal as some kind of imposition of sharia law or a passive aggressive call to show your support for raising awareness of cancer by sharing a poster. It’s wonderful.

5. Focus and concentration. It’s like a digital fast, in that it sharpens your concentration, you’re on, what Tim Ferris refers to as a low information diet. Reading is a delightful experience again because I don’t have that chickenhead reflex to check notifications as they come in. 

It’s produced impressively rich results already, I will go back because it’s useful as a promotional tool, but I will take breaks again and not feel the least bit bad for doing so. Which is odd, isn’t it? Akin to when you meet someone who says they don’t have a television and you get that stab of disbelief before you realise what a cool thing that is. Until you remember the excitement that you felt watching the Breaking Bad finale when it came on Netflix. 

I swear, I am hopeless. 


Engagement and Isolation

I have come away from social media for a time. 

I am finding it surprising how much more time I have, for something that is essentially voluntary and free. I think, for me, a lot of it was it’s very efficient at giving you that jolt of recognition and connection like a rush of sugar but I wonder if it actually adds to your isolation. It certainly did to mine, sifting for interesting tweets and links with the same fervour that a porn addict has. I am not saying I won’t go back, but for now, it’s good to just come away from it a bit. 

Most of the people who you interact with won’t especially notice you’re gone, unless the friendship is sustainable away from that. The internet creates a lot of acquaintances, digital interactions that have all the appearance of friendship but nothing of the depth. That isn’t to say I do not enjoy it, but I want some time on my own, this aside. 

It’s about giving space to yourself, some time alone in the digital sense so that you can figure things out for yourself. I have to learn to be less passive about such things and then when I do engage, it will be on a more assertive, engaging level than previously. I want to have things to say and show people, rather than sharing posters that express an opinion that I want people to think I have.