As of 8 a.m. today, I deactivated my Facebook account, reducing my social media profile to zero. No more Twitter, no more Instagram and no more EyeEm. A full-tilt, social media vacation, sometime to return. Maybe. Probably. Who knows?
What I do know is that for far too long, I’ve filled as many waking moments as possible with compulsive social media foraging. Walking down the hall, I check my FB notifications, then Instagram, then Twitter and then back to FB to look at my feed. It’s a routine I follow at stop lights, in traffic, watching television, walking my dogs and periodically throughout the day. Like a rat hitting the lever for a bit of cheese, I’m constantly seeking out those tiny payoffs — the little interactions throughout the day that give the illusion of being connected to people while engaged in a singularly isolating activity.
I knew that breaking these habits — these mindsets — would not occur simply because I deleted my accounts. Still, I wasn’t entirely prepared for the revelation that subconsciously, I’m constantly focused on identifying social media-worthy events throughout the day. I never want to supersaturate my social media friends with too much content. Generally I shoot for one IG post a day, 3-5 FB posts a week and Twitter whenever I’m bored. But what I learned today is that I’ve developed a fairly robust set of background processes that are constantly noticing and evaluating moments throughout my day for social media content. I began jotting down some of these ideas as they occurred to me. Combined with the number of times that I picked up my phone to check in on my deleted accounts, it was a sobering account, for sure. Here’s a sample list from the past eight hours:
Unfulfilled Social Media Impulses Today
Post on either Twitter or Facebook: Holy shit, this Metal Allegiance album is heavy in all the right ways
Post a picture on Instagram of somebody I met today through Instagram for the first time
Checking Facebook at the stoplight on the way to coffee
Checking Facebook at the stoplight on the way to dinner. Twice
Posting a picture on Instagram of the cover of the new Sword album with a comment as to its interesting new direction
Asking Twitter if there are any bands heavier than Meshuggah
Checking Facebook in gridlock on the way home
Taking sneaky picture on Instagram of two girls in Native Foods dressed just like Molly Ringwald in Pretty In Pink to post on IG
Seeing what’s up with a gal I’m interested in on FB
Posting a video of a golden retriever being rescued on Facebook
Posting a link to a story about Schwarzenegger granting clemency to the son of a political ally, after the son had stabbed and killed an innocent college student
On the upside, I notice that my mind isn’t cluttered with comparisons to other people’s days, negative posts about the world going to hell, close-minded political discourse and other warped and unproductive data that I have been actively soaking up throughout each day for the past several years. We’ll see what happens. This isn’t a big experiment and I don’t plan on blogging about my social media silence beyond this. Others have gone off the grid in far more colorful and dramatic ways than this. Plus I’ve got a stack of old interviews I’ve been waiting to publish, plus some new ones that I’d like to schedule. We’ll see how it goes.