Pros + Cons of Deleting Social Media
I deleted — rather than deactivated — my social media (Facebook + Instagram) a year and a half ago. I had deactivated it before for seasons of my life, but this time, I downloaded the photos I cared about and said goodbye to the platform forever. Here are the pros and cons I’ve noticed so far.
PRO: I focus on my own aspirations rather than on what everyone else is doing.
I like to think I can be purely happy for my friends getting married in brilliant basilicas, frolicking through fountains with twins, and thru-hiking in Bangladesh, but let’s face it: I compare myself and start to think there could be something wrong with my trajectory. Since cutting myself off from the scrolling, I am more channeled into the present, which also helps me think clearly about where I would like to be going.
CON: I may have no idea what’s happening in the news.
How was I, a teacher in the science department, unaware that the SpaceX Falcon 9 just launched? Possibly more momentous: how could I not know about the capital storming until I heard coworkers discussing it? I would describe it as a blissful if possibly irresponsible ignorance, where I get to submerge myself in Dickens and not fret about protests. The danger is when the protests are where I used to live in Logan Square, where Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot also happened to live.
It is good to be informed. I have had debates with friends and less-than-friends since then, and I admit that if I can actually do something to help, it is good to be aware of the plights of other people. But for most of existence, people were not aware of everything happening across the globe, and they were likely psychologically, if not politically, better off because of it. And how often do people read the news + worry about disaster elsewhere, but ignore needs in their own city? I know I used to, and still do whenever I open the News app. The issue is that reading the news doesn’t compel me to do anything about the problems in the world, though perhaps that’s a unique shortcoming to me. However, I don’t think I’m completely alone in the experience of mindlessly scrolling through disasters and then channeling my efforts into getting the mold off my bathroom ceiling instead of helping with hurricane relief.
PRO: It’s actually interesting to catch up with old friends.
They moved to Juno? Who knew! They are working for the House of Representatives? Do tell. I still keep in touch via text message with my college friends to whom I was actually close, and it’s much more special to receive their news from them directly, since it opens up a true dialogue. We send pictures back and forth, and I feel closer to my close friends since not having social media. Of course, I don’t keep in touch with the vast majority of people I’ve ever met, but then again, I don’t think that’s natural or even beneficial.
CON: When moving or traveling, it’s more challenging to find acquaintances.
Are you driving through Rochester, NY and want to see whose couch you can crash on? Did you just move to LA and are trying to figure out who your new crew will be? I had used Facebook for that before by searching for people by location. Now I actually have to text my friends to see if they know anyone, or — God forbid— actually pay for an Airbnb. But now that I have graduated from #stipendlife, I have to remember that I am not *actually* poor, and that it’s ok every now and then to splurge. On the plus side, all my random acquaintances are now spared from having me awkwardly ask to stay on their sofa.
CON -> PRO: I can’t send and receive event invitations on Facebook.
This was a con at first when my friends were not used to my Facebookless status, but when they learned, someone in the group would text me a screenshot of the invite so I could still go. The reason this switched to a pro is that when I am hosting, I text everyone individually (copied and pasted, with a bit of customization per person), and my turnout is way higher than when I used to make a Facebook group and invite people. When I ask them how it feels to receive the invite over text as opposed to Facebook, they say it feels more personal and that I want them specifically to come.
PRO: I’m not constantly bombarded with political arguments.
This one speaks for itself.
CON: It’s harder to find + join groups.
When I moved to LA, I wanted to find a running club. I found the answer to this problem in the Meetup app, which allows me to find groups without really engaging on the platform. Then, if I go once, I don’t really need the app anymore because I know the meetup time and place.
When I was looking for a Makerspace community, there was of course a Facebook group, but I found a way to email the organizer so they could add me to the NoM (Nation of Makers) Slack channel, which I suppose is a form of social media, but it’s really more of a forum to ask other people who do what I do for professional advice and less about who is who.
PRO: If I ever have kids, I won’t be tempted to plaster pictures of them all over the web.
I do think this is an issue. I suppose parents have the legal right to post any pictures they want of their children, but I was looking into the ramifications of this when I discovered that pictures of pornographic children are sometimes pictures pulled and photoshopped from the web. Horrendous. So if you can’t resist sharing your little girl on her first day of first grade, it might be smart to delete your account and remove the temptation.
PRO: I’m no longer emotionally affected by likes + comments.
I would love to say I was impervious to the reward rush from being called absolutely drop-dead gorgeous in my profile picture, but alas — I was not. It’s nice to not have to worry about it, since it’s not a factor in my life anymore
PRO: I’ve started blogging.
I never posted thoughts + feelings on Facebook anyways, but I would see other people write novels in their status updates. I do like to reflect and share with the world, though, so blogging has been a fun adventure! The nice thing about blogging is that someone can find it if they are interested, but I’m not obliging people I know to see what I’ve been thinking about.
PRO: Less of my data is online.
On Facebook, anyways. Though I guess now I am blogging and it is out there for the whole world to see! Hah.
PRO: I make an effort to get people’s phone numbers.
When I make new friends and they inevitably ask for my Instagram handle, I just say I don’t have one and we exchange phone numbers. It’s much simpler.
One last note: when I left social media, I did not leave one last message. I refrained from writing: “Hello friends and family! I am deleting social media forever. Let the mourning commence. I know your life will not be as complete without my pancake-flipping skills or rooftop cheers, so please reach out over text to get in touch.”
I don’t recommend making your departing from the platform time for dramatic goodbyes. It will come up when someone tries to add you to a group, and you can let them know then. We don’t need to think we’re more important on social media than we are.
The good news about deleting social media is that for most of the time, I forget it exists. A few of my friends have joined me in the journey and they say the same. I am curious to know what your experience might be.