“Most people who quit twitter leave at least three paragraphs on twitter about why they’re quitting Twitter.” -the police looking for Cartman after he left Twitter on last night’s episode of South Park.
Anyone who I was connected with by my personal profile might have seen some of my own 3 paragraph ramblings about quitting certain social media accounts. I had a lot to say about it. I still do. (To see my initial post from 2 months ago on curbing social media use see here). I don’t have the withdrawal that I experienced the first weeks after deactivating my personal account. Going from checking my notifications and newsfeed dozens of times a day to nothing had me “ghost” checking my phone, picking it up many times realizing that I really didn’t need to obsessively monitor it like that.
While my use may have changed, I still do have a few accounts open and active and I am still very much involved with thinking about these issues with some concern but also humor, so the recent two South Park episodes provided a great levity to the analysis I’ve been giving. Outside of my own verbose musing on curbing my social media use there is certainly a much broader and important discussion occurring regarding social media use and in general tech dependency, which in typical fashion the South Park creators addressed in a hilarious and unique way. My own focus in thought and increasingly also personal research is smartphone dependency.
I knew about the problems I would have with smartphone use before I had a smartphone. I think it was around 2012 when we were living in Germany. I had only had flip mobile phones and we relied on our landline for calls to family and friends. I was happy to simply use social media when I was home, at my desktop. I was happy to do so because I knew that someday I would have a smartphone and with that constant access to dialogue, friends, family, information, media and more, I would struggle with constant use.
If this all sounds like an annoying first world complaint to you and you’re the type to rush to the comments section to say so, forget about it. It’s not that I can’t handle that criticism and it may actually be a valid point to explore except for the fact that use of social media and smartphones is by no way limited to the first world. Also, I learned a while ago that while the comments section can be a fun and lively place for discussion, it is often also rife with the very behavior central to the latest two South Park episodes- trolling. There’s a reason some people just don’t read the comments and I would wager that it’s a healthy choice. I eliminated the comments feature on my sites long ago and not because anything bad happened but because I just wanted a post to be a post.
I’ve fed a few Internet trolls in the past and I can acknowledge that every time it was just a big mistake.
And anyway, when it comes to trolls, the only ones I’d like to acknowledge or at least muse about are those of Nordic lore.
What I wrote about in that first post about closing certain accounts- that sweeping, almost blissful sense that allowed me to do it- was the sense of retreat. I felt like I was about to embark on restorative and meaningful getaway. The kind where you pull up to your destination, inhaling the crisp cool air and drinking in the sight of rich evergreens. You can feel the expanse of a deeply relaxing several days ahead of you, perhaps with a little tech but also books and fireplaces, walks in the woods and little bits of dialogue with folks around the lodge.
I understand connectivity. I have spent my entire adult life moving around frequently and not just around one place but from country to country, coasts to coasts, cities to cities. The value that social media poses, to stay connected and intimate with family and friends globally is remarkable. Now that the initial withdrawal symptoms of excessive social media dependency have worn off a bit, I now can feel some of the sadness of what I do miss by not being there. I maintain a couple of public pages on FB that I am active on (but nothing like my upwards of 10-20 posts a day like I used to do on my personal profile) but that’s generally a one way street. My family and friends can see my posts but I can’t see theirs (unless they are made public).
I closed my Instagram account and left my Twitter one open, despite the fact (or perhaps precisely because of the fact) that I was more active and social at the former.
Yes, I have been tempted to get rid of all my accounts. There is a great appeal in that. But there is also an appeal in sticking around a bit and practicing my hand and voice at moderation (difficult, I am chatty and a media junkie). So while I breathe in this cool, crisp Autumn air and enjoy this gorgeous season, you can find me tweeting here and on FB here and here.