The Beauty of Abstinence from Social Media

Guilty as charged. Yes, I am a victim, no, a slave, to my phone. It is an addiction that is as hard to kick as smoking, and I hate it. But yet, my ever curious nature wants to know what’s going on. Whether it is enlightening myself with tedious drivel posts about people’s hilarious love lives, stupid videos of people showing what happens when you spoon cinnamon powder in your mouth or to generally post my own variety of self-expressive pieces, I get hooked. Yes, it’s true, you’ve caught me red-handed.

There is a double-edged sword emotion tied to it though, which is what I think makes it so addictive. An excuse to peruse people’s thoughts, beliefs and emotions and connect with others you can’t do on a regular basis is a really nice option. But, the side effect of that knowledge is, ironically, knowing too much. You can’t hide in the digital age. People know when you’re online, when you’ve read things and what you think and feel about an array of subjects. But, because we’re still hidden behind a screen, there is still a degree of mystery that leaves us baffled, and not in a good way. That is because we can be so open one minute, and then easily shut everything else down the next. You are a ubiquitous enigma, on whatever level you choose. That is when things get tricky.

The paradox of “I know them so well, but I don’t know them at all.” That is because we display as much as we want, when we want, to all or few. But what do we display to no one? Only we know that. However, with the dynamic of virtual snooping (seeing people’s activity etc.) our brains are innately programmed to fill in that gap (and usually the mental outcome is not a pretty one) We can’t help but think that if we don’t hear from our friends who are constantly open to the world and have been online, that they must suddenly hate us. Are they bored with my chat? What have I done? They saw my message though! STOP. Just chill out and put the phone down. Take the key out of the ignition and clear the route in your sat nav to crazy town because this catastrophising is just going to blow your cranium. This is what I mean about a side effect of social media. Knowledge is both power and a hindrance. Unless we can cut this attachment loose, we’ll suffocate at the grip of networking chaos.

So, in order to feel better, I should actively know less? Bingo. Do you remember back in the good old days when none of this existed and we all lived our own lives? Or, we’d pick up a phone and actually call our friends? We never spoke every day, and we certainly didn’t know so much about them on a superficial level, yet, there was never any questioning on the strength of the relationship’s bond.  Maybe a bit of mystery is necessary to keep people from second-guessing everyone’s movements? Maybe, instead of assuming what someone’s activity means when you’re not together in the physical, we go about our day? Don’t get me wrong, these thoughts have broken my brain a few times in the past, too. Until I realised I was being an utter buffoon about it all. So, my suggestion: abstain from social media.

Cold turkey time. Aside from important messages that need be sent to people to make arrangements in the physical or to read the news (proper news though, and you could just watch BBC for that anyway) then try a week without idly scrolling through your feed and see how you feel. You’ll suddenly realise how much time you waste living your life vicariously through 2 minute’s worth of nothingness videos. Replace that urge to look at everyone else and instead pick up a book, go outside and take a walk, visit a new place. Do absolutely anything but focus on that touchscreen accessible tripe.

I’m starting from today. From here on in, I am breaking the cigarette-shaped social tool in two and letting the endless memes and pictures turn to ash on the floor. If you need me, I’m there. But will I be a slave to drivel? Will I succumb to my mind’s concoctions configured though stories behind a status?

No – I am a free woman!

However, I am posting this online, just so the word gets out…That is not hypocrisy or anything, I promise.

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