It’s 4 p.m. – also l’heure du goûter (afternoon tea time). I’m not on social media. I’m eating a delicious mango and a big slice of steaming hot chocolate banana cake, lounging in my hotel bathrobe.
Side note: if you’re salivating after reading about cake, I share my gluten free vegan recipe here.
You might be wondering why I share those details – who really cares about what I’m eating and how. Maybe you think it’s irrelevant?
After all, if you’re here it’s to read about why I’m quitting about social media.
This journal article is indeed about quitting social media.
Bear with me – I try my best to write intentionally and these details matter – more on this as you keep reading.
When social media is down, then what?
But if you’re reading this on October 4th, you probably know that since this morning, there’s a global outage on Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp.
You may know this from reading a tweet after you tried (and failed) to get anything done on any of these social media platforms. Or you might know this from reading the news online. It’s amazing how this outage breaks out in headlines on major news-reporting publications. To think that it’s news-worthy to report an app or more being unaccessible.
After my slow morning routine, I logged into Instagram and realised something was off. Google confirmed it’s down. As I am not on any other social media platforms (more about this further down), I switched off my phone.
I switched my iPhone off because I had writing prompts to attend to. I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo 2022 you see. (More on NaNoWriMo here).
I currently write by hand, so the less distraction or screens for me, the better. Offscreen is the result of my pre-calculation over the past years. I specifically designed my lifestyle to carve out endless amount of time for writing and being available to ideas and inspiration when they knock.
By afternoon, I was digging my teeth into my cake and mango while dressed in my soft white bathrobe.
I purposed to include these details here because if this social media outage happened some years ago, I would have freaked out.
As a matter of fact, it did happen many times over the course of the past years. It did freak me out, because I was unable to reach clients, could not post content nor market my services. I understand if that’s currently what you go through as a freelancer, or small biz owner using social media to grow a buying audience or clientele. It’s hard, and sometimes it may seem there is no choice.
However, the truth is that we always, always have a choice.
The choice may not be to quit using social media completely, but it may be changing your thoughts around it. Doing social media with heart has been and is, and forever will be my motto.
It’s been a long time coming, and as I gradually make my exit (it has taken me years so please don’t think you need to quit overnight!), I am sharing my perspective and how I’m doing it.
We’ve become too dependent on social media
I’m trying to be gentle and not use the word ‘addicted’ here, because I don’t want us to have a bad rep. However, if we’re being honest, we are becoming too dependent on these social platforms.
The great news is that you’re not alone in this and it’s also not your fault if you can’t seem to take a break from your device (or this vice).
We are on the other side of a group of engineers & scientists, who have us hooked. The more time we spend on their apps, the more data they’re getting from us, and the more money they’re making off us.
By data, I don’t simply mean what you use when you log in (name, email, date of birth etc). No, it’s more than that. They are observing our behaviour, analysing our every move, how our brain works, and the worse part is that they then use all this to reprogram our brains. I am summarising this in one simple line, but if you want to understand this deeper, I recommend you watch the docudrama film The Social Dilemma.
What about our life – actually living life?
“Hateful content, divisive content, polarising content – it’s easier to inspire people to anger than any other emotions,” mentioned Francis Haugen, Facebook whistleblower in her interview on 60 Minutes.
We’ve endured a lot (2020 anyone?) to know we are already divided as a society. According to most experts (you can understand this as explained in The Social Dilemma too) it’s how we are receiving content and information (as well as misinformation). It’s rather concerning.
You may not know me for long, but I have been an avid user of internet and social platforms since 2006. My goal then was ambitious: to travel the world full-time while earning money in a smarter way where I would free up my time and my days so I could write novels. Today, it’s exactly what I am doing. I am an e-resident, location-independent, and have a lot of free time to devote to my calling.
So, believe me when I say that I am grateful for social networks and the internet. Without this, I would not be where I am today. I am truly grateful but the time has come for me to hop off the train so to speak. I reached my stop/station and I can continue the next leg of the journey without a lot of the social media platforms that previously served me.
Back then, you see, these apps were great in terms of connecting us to other people. To some extent, they still do. However, now there’s more violence, hatred, division, anger. It’s no longer a safe place for many people.
It’s simply not what it used to be. Perhaps because more and more people are using it now. With billions of people on there, of course it can become dangerous if one company has ‘monopoly’ over content.
I witnessed the shift from people being grateful and kind to influencers, bloggers, and content creators to seeing cyberbullying.
In my mind, this is unkind. Even if they ‘seem’ selfish or vain, or have done a ‘bad thing’ publicly, sadly most times we only have a small portion of the story of popular accounts. We don’t have the full story, the back story, the (real) behind-the-scenes. They too are humans, let’s not forget.
For these reasons mentioned above combined with my desire for a simpler life, I am quitting social media.
Here’s what I’ve done so far:
- Facebook – deactivated my profile, business page, and archived/ closed groups.
- Whatsapp – I quit Whatsapp several years ago (had to reinstall when I went back to Mauritius to live as this is the most used form of communication among my family, taxi driver, business, farm produce etc). Personally, I find this platform damaging to relationships and true connection and I will share why in another post.
- Twitter – I deleted/ deactivated all my accounts.
- Mighty Networks – I quit long time ago.
- Snapchat – I deleted my archived posts and no longer use it. I’m not sure if I deactivated it, but if I didn’t, I anyway can’t log in as I don’t remember how to do this and don’t want to.
- Periscope – I quit right after predators and perverts invaded it. Fortunately, this platform was discontinued earlier in 2021.
- LinkedIn – deactivated and deleted my account. You can read my reasons here.
- Clubhouse, Telegram, Discord etc – I am not on there and won’t ever join. Unless of course, I become a mom and my children’s teachers choose to communicate important info via these channels! 😅
Why I’m still on Instagram and TikTok
I am still active on Instagram and TikTok.
Mostly because I still have some plans for both these platforms. I do intend to use them as tools for now, and at some point, I know I’ll most likely leave them too.
My new goal is as ambitious as the one I had a decade ago (now reached). I mentioned to my community about a couple of years ago that one of my dream is to have a beautiful B&B or guesthouse where I could host immersive slow living retreats, creative workshops and artists’ residency. It will be a chic farmhouse concept, with healthy farm-to-table food, grown with respect to people and planet. I hope to have chickens, rabbits, goats or sheep, ducks, dogs, and my cat.
As I am currently only operating virtually and online, I am going to continue using Instagram for marketing purposes. It is in my calculated plans though to one day hopefully leave for good.
That being said, it may be a foolish decision. After all, our world has become more and more digital in this decade and will continue to be so for a long time. But I stand by my reasons and also my decision to live a simpler, slower life.
In my ideal version, I spend only a few hours per month looking at a screen or mobile phone (currently it’s few hours per week), and there’s no social media. Whether I can achieve this goal or not remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: I think I have done well and got a great start already.
If you’re feeling the pull towards a slower life without screens. digital or social media, you’re not wrong for wanting this. You’re allowed to desire something that goes against the ‘norm’. And if more and more of us decide to live a gentler, simpler life, perhaps this would become the norm?