I quit social media (except YouTube) on 9th January 2021. On 1st or 2nd January 2021, I watched The Social Dilemma and right after that, I logged out of and deleted Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Before I did, I let my audience on Instagram/Facebook know that I would be offline until the end of the month. The only avenues to reach me would be my YouTube channel, email or website.
In 2020, I had been going back and forth about this idea of having an online presence without being online all the time. In my ideal day and life, I don’t spend it on social media. At least not more than I need or want to.
Why I quit social media
Let me lead by saying that I don’t believe that social media is inherently evil. I’m just an information and consumption addict. Let me dig into why I took a break.
The Pon De Replay/ Ms.Rona
2020 was not a great year. Between the Pon De Replay , forest fires , police brutality and all of that , there was a lot to take in by being online. We were hyper connected to each other through all of that.. We felt each other’s grief, anger , joy , fear and anxiety while trying to deal with our own feelings. It was A LOT. I remember taking June off social media for this reason.
I went through loss in 2020 that I wouldn’t wish on anybody then I thought I could waltz into 2021 having barely given myself a minute to sit with the aftermath of 2020. What I am is a clown.
Social media is an echo chamber
An echo chamber is defined as an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered.
It is very easy and almost natural to follow people who all do and believe the same things (probably the same beliefs as you). The algorithm is built to expose you to the same handful of people and at best, people who are similar to the people you follow. Over time, your ethos is limited to said thoughts and principles that you might not actually agree with.
I know that it is possible to curate your feed and follow people you disagree with but it takes a lot more effort since the algorithm rewards similarity not difference. I think that because of this, we are becoming less and less tolerant of opposing ideals. What happened to agreeing to disagree? Social media makes you think the real world looks like your instagram,full of people that agree with you,but that is false and will probably never be the case.
My brain memory card is full.
My brain gets cluttered and I get overwhelmed by all the information I get from being online on a daily basis. Also, since I am spending so much time consuming, I don’t get to digest and process all the information I have received.
Saving action for later
Thanks to YouTube’s watch later, Instagram’s save feature and Twitter’s bookmarks, I save action for later. It’s this cycle of being bombarded with great tools regularly but never getting around to actually using them.
My understanding of digital minimalism is focusing your time, attention and resources on a few platforms that give you the most value (in alignment with your personal values and principles)
I like the idea of minimalism or essentialism which applies the same idea but to all areas of your life. Good resources to learn more about this are the Netflix documentary titled Minimalism and the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown which was a great read for me.
I create less
I’ve talked about why I value managing my ratio of creation to consumption before. Somewhere around 2018/2019 , I fell off in being consistent with YouTube. I took a long break off it so that I can come back with a game plan and hopefully be more consistent but I wasn’t. I did share things on Instagram and made a few blog posts and videos here and there but there was no flow . I was not creating and using my platforms the way I would have liked.
There are so many places to be and each platform requires a different voice and often has different audiences to cater to. I just couldn’t see myself keeping up and being able to connect with my audience in the best way possible.
So I quit social media.. Now what?
I have a goal this year to upload a YouTube video every Saturday so I got to work. I was able to do just that in the month of January and I plan to continue.
Since I had nowhere else to be, I spent more time on YouTube , reading books and listening to podcasts which are still forms of consumption. It is arguable whether it is “better” than being on Instagram and that entirely depends on what you seek on social media.
Jumping from one form of consumption to another that’s supposedly better or more wholesome is not a solution, for me at least. I am still feeding my brain a lot of information that it needs to hear, understand , process , interpret & apply or dispose of . Whether said information is a podcast/book/newspaper/article/instagram post or YouTube video , it is information. And for me , it can easily become an information overload.
Therefore, a step beyond social media is just looking at how heavy my information diet is. What does it take to switch to a low information diet and/or give myself enough time in between consumption to process said information?
Twenty Minutes of Tranquility
The answer to that question is where ToT(Twenty Minutes of Tranquility) came from. I am currently doing an 8 week wellness challenge that I created for myself that includes ToT.
I spend 20 minutes a day in silence sitting with myself . I distinguished it from meditation but I soon realized that it’s essentially unguided meditation. The only caveat is that I take notes if I want. I believe that with unguided meditation, you simply sit with the thoughts and writing takes away from that because you’re actively trying to make sense of them.
After doing ToT, I naturally started taking notes as I watch or listen to anything. Thereafter, I spend a few minutes reading my notes & taking more. I can hear and interact with the thoughts that come up while consuming . I am allowing my hyperactive brain to be heard, and it’s thanking me for it.
As I said earlier, i am an information addict. Society seems to classify what are good and bad addictions but that’s a story for another day. If I had to pick an addiction presently , I’d pick silence. Less noise. From the outside and from myself .
I don’t want to create noise for other people either. And so even through this , I’m learning that beyond consuming less noise , I want to create less noise too. I know my content is often information heavy and there is value in that . However, I wouldn’t want to cloud people’s feeds, subscription boxes , mailboxes with noise.
I am learning to only make a video/post when I have something to say and not just for consistency’s sake . It’s all a learning process.
Will I go back to social media ?
I am writing this on February 5th ( over 3 weeks later) and I haven’t gone back to any of the platforms I deleted. I don’t feel the need to go back just yet . To help me make this decision , I thinking through a couple of questions :
- What do I care about/ value ?
- What aspect of social media gives a boost to said things ?
- Do these pros outweigh the cons of social media ?
- If the answer is no, are there any non social media alternatives
- If the answer is yes, when and how will I use social media to achieve said value?
For now, I want to give myself a bit more time to create on YouTube and here on the website.
I am also limiting my YouTube use because it’s slowly becoming a noisy place to be on .
If you see me on Instagram/Facebook , I am likely to be doing it with a lot of constraints (at a set time and place with a specific purpose).I will probably update you all soon.
What are your thoughts on social media ? How does it make you feel? Which platforms are you on and do you have any boundaries you’ve created in order to have the best experience ? Share all your thoughts in the comments down below.
“Always remember that your hair is your crown and your body is a temple; embrace it, love it and take care of it.”