I wrote the first draft of this I’m-leaving-social-media post a month ago, at the beginning of March. It said I was leaving, probably, but also hedged that maybe, possibly, I’d cave and come back. Then it dawned on me that I could just quietly try out said leaving for a while without a Big Announcement.
As I stepped away, and thought about it, and missed it (or not), I also came across a copy of Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, which helped crystallize my decision. The very shortest distillation is: ok, sure, social media can be fun and helps give a voice to good people and good ideas, but in the bigger picture and longer term, its net effects on users – and society generally – are much more negative.
Facebook is an easy one, as I haven’t been “on” Facebook in any meaningful way in years. I can’t completely delete my account there, because I still need it for occasional work (barf) and event-RSVPing purposes, but it’s never really been part of my day-to-day life, anyway.
Twitter is another story. I’ve been active on Twitter for nearly eleven years, and the link to this blog post will be tweet number 10,000. Ten thousand! That’s a lot of free content creation!
Without being on Twitter, I don’t hear about the outrage-du-jour as quickly, and if it’s not a big enough deal to make it onto one of the news sites I read or podcasts I listen to, I may (gasp!) never hear about it. I confess to a twinge of smugness when someone asks, “Did you see what So-and-so said now?” and I have no idea what they’re talking about.
In the past year or so, in an effort to not die of an outrage embolism, I had already scaled way back on the number of accounts I follow, and how verbose I’ll put up with them being. But cutting off more completely has been pretty great. The times I was tempted back (“Ooh, there’s been Big News, I wonder what they’re saying about this on Twitter!”) were without exception either a disappointment or left me feeling vaguely gross again.
I will miss having a place where I can easily promote, retweet, or share things. Maybe that mattered sometimes, maybe it didn’t. I’ve decided to trust that my online pals will still somehow hear about the great new podcast I would have tweeted about (or survive without it).
I will still post here, on my blog, which is a more genuine effort that’s under my control and doesn’t hand our data on a silver platter to a giant online advertising company. I know that many fewer people will see those posts, and that’s okay. (Note that you can subscribe to new posts, if you like, or just visit whenever. No login required.)
I haven’t decided about Instagram yet. I like Instagram, and it’s the only place online that several friends and family members share anything. But since it feeds the even nastier beast of Facebook, its days may be numbered for me, too.
Lastly is the tiny upstart, Micro.Blog. Part social network, part independent web movement, it’s everything I want from being online. Maybe it’s only because it’s still small, or maybe the design decisions they’re making are actually working, or maybe it’s because it takes a bit of effort and/or money. In any case it’s an open, pleasant, ad-free network that’s nice to spend time on, with lots of interesting and genuine folks. The posts here are also available there.
That’s where to find my next 10,000 posts, give or take.