I’ve been off social media for several months, and have yet to hole up in a closet with a sheet cake and a fork.
I have an Instagram account I never use, and avoid Twitter like the plague because the term “tweet” makes my teeth hurt. Don’t even mention Snapchat or the myriad of other digital sharing options I’ve managed to avoid.
I deactivated my Facebook account last December, after growing concerned about the time I was wasting on the rising darkness of anonymous humanity.
I was becoming addicted, constantly checking to ensure I didn’t miss something interesting or controversial on my ever-changing newsfeed. In recent years I noticed a lot less interesting and a lot more controversial.
There also seemed to be a growing wave of outrage, with sniping potshots taken over a variety of issues.
I posted daily and enjoyed a dopamine-fueled high with every like or positive comment. Negative responses were crushing, and I’d drag about like I was hauling cement.
I was becoming a narcissistic tool.
Then there was the incessant chime of news both real and suspect; cartoonish memes promoting a particular viewpoint, and snarky responses from the other side.
I was mired in drama, bathed in angst and stuck on an emotional roller coaster forever going up but never coming down or reaching a calm and conclusive end.
So I cut the cord.
It was tough at first. Muscle memory drove my thumbs over my phone. I missed family photos and happy updates.
I could no longer hide behind my phone to avoid talking to people in public places.
I pondered the sorry state of my reality in a tree-falling-in-the-forest kind of way. If I did something and didn’t post about it, did it actually happen?
But I also felt freed from a palm-sized chunk of plastic, even leaving the phone home on occasion while I was out and about.
I caught up with friends and family via face-to-face conversations and bona fide calls. I used my phone as a phone. Gasp.
I made better use of time. I started writing again and considered launching a blog.
Maybe I really am a narcissistic tool.
What have I missed since leaving Facebook in December?
I’m sure the government shutdown prompted kibitzing from both sides of the fence.
The Covington Catholic Controversy probably caused a stir, especially when revealing details emerged after the initial story broke. I’m sure the ensuing lawsuit lit up newsfeeds, too.
I bet Gillette kicked up some dust over its toxic masculinity ad campaign.
Let’s not forget Jussie Smollett, who torpedoed his career in a most public fashion.
There were gut-wrenching cop killings, and a controversial call in an NFL playoff game.
How about the incessant beat of Russia, Russia, Roger Stone, A.O.C. and Michael Cohen?
Hillary announced she isn’t, and Bernie announced he is.
I’m sure lots of folks weighed in on abortion and anti-Semitism, too.
A Wisconsin teenager feared lost was joyfully found. Hallelujah for that.
Up, down and sideways, the roller coaster of life speeds on regardless of where we gather information. Hastily posted comments add little value to the productive sharing of thoughts and opinions.
Left unchecked, I suspect social media can be darkly powerful - shrinking attention spans, spreading false news, fueling anger, straining relationships, eating time, and eliminating face-to-face conversations.
There is also growing concerns about the information we share, and those interest-targeting ads that pop up in mysterious fashion.
Maybe we should be leery of anything that shackles us to a faceless digital information stream, and perhaps even influences our thoughts via snappy analytics and less-than-transparent motives.
My return to social media is undecided, as I am truly enjoying the break. Plus I think life is too short to shackle oneself to a glowing screen.