It’s been a month since the last time I logged into Twitter, two since the last time I checked my Facebook (which has since been deleted). I don’t have a Pinterest, an
Instagram, or a LinkedIn. In fact, the only social media site I use is Tumblr, but I don’t really use it to talk with anyone or interact with people who are in the same fandoms as I am. It’s more for mindless entertainment than anything “social.”
I like to think that my decision to not use social media gives me an interesting perspective on the whole phenomenon – while maybe there is a certain hipster glamor to staying off of Facebook, I am in no way trying to assert superiority over those who do use social media, especially considering there was a time when I did use social media platforms regularly to communicate with others and to stay up-to-date on my friends’ lives. Really, my choosing to abstain from social media stemmed more from the need to get off Facebook and start doing homework than anything else, but I’ve come to notice a few interesting things, both good and bad, that have come from my refusal to use social media.
PRO: I am far moreproductive now that I am no longer using social media. This may seem a little obvious, but now that I’m not constantly checking Facebook or spending hours scrolling through Instagram, I have actually started to work harder, smarter, and better. Because I’m not distracted by social media, I have more time to dedicate to my schoolwork, and, even better, I am more focused while I am working because I am not constantly curious about what my friends are up to.
CON: I have no idea what my friends are up to. This is particularly true of my friends from Colorado – although I talk to a few of them on a regular basis, much of my contact with friends from home was facilitated by Facebook, so now I really don’t know what’s going on in my home state.
PRO: I don’t have to deal with being tagged in unflattering photos. No more worrying that a picture of me with food in my mouth will end up blasted across the internet – in fact, most people don’t even bother taking a picture of me now that they can’t tag me (I won’t even get into what that says about society), so I also don’t have to take seventy selfies with someone until we both look just right.
CON: There are apps that I cannot use because I cannot log in with Facebook, and many that I can use have limited features because I don’t have a Facebook. Bitstrips is one app that requires Facebook to connect; Candy Crush doesn’t require that you use Facebook, but it’s pretty important if you want your friends to unlock the next level for you so that you don’t have to pay 99 cents.
PRO: I never feel like my life is less glamorous than my friends’ lives. This is actually something that has been studied – according to an article on Reuters, German scientists found that constantly watching your friends post pictures and statuses about their relationships, their jobs, their classes, and their fun weekend plans can make people feel envious, sometimes going so far as to causing feelings of worthlessness and eventual depression. Now that I don’t saturate my life with social media, I’ve stopped feeling like I’m the only one spending Saturday night studying.
CON: My friends can’t post funny images, memes, or articles on my wall anymore. I also cannot post these things on theirs. This one is actually really disappointing to me because one of the best parts of my day was always seeing an article on my wall talking about why “Doctor Who” is the best show ever made or GIFs of Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation” saying and doing spectacular things (although he would probably commend my not using social media and would be pleased to know that I am no longer looking at GIFs of him on the internet).
So what does all this mean? To be honest, I’m not sure I have the authority to draw any conclusions. Part of me is relieved, glad even, that I am no longer participating in social media; part of me really misses it. I think that one day, I probably will end up getting back on Facebook and Twitter just because it is such a huge part of human interaction in today’s world, and if I refuse to participate permanently, I run the risk of becoming isolated.
Does that mean that I think everyone should be on social media? Does my current defiance mean that I think no one should? I would say neither. I think that it’s up to each of us to decide whether or not we want to be plugged in.
But I can say that those who advise us to put down our smartphones and log off social media in order to connect with others are incorrect. After all, if you’re the only one who isn’t looking at a screen, then you are the one who isn’t connected. As unfortunate as that may be, it’s a reality we have to face in a world where technology is advancing as rapidly as it is. And though it may be difficult to imagine now, I suppose it is possible that one day we may face a world where our online personas will become more important than who we really are. But I am hopeful that day will not come anytime soon.