A few months ago I watched The Circle on Netflix, which, if you didn’t know, is a movie starring Emma Watson as a new employee at the latest sci-fi dystopian social media network, called, well, The Circle.
The Circle are obsessed with knowing everything about everyone. Privacy Is Dead. And so on.
I mean, it wasn’t terrible. (I’ve watched my fair share of terrible movies, so I feel qualified to talk about these things.) But it wasn’t great. Besides, the idea of social-media-is-evil already feels overdone. It was a bit like a long episode of Black Mirror, only lighter, and without the excruciatingly painful bits.
It just didn’t seem to tell us anything we didn’t already know.
Social media is addictive – yes, we know this.
Social media takes us away from real relationships with real people – yeah, I know.
Social media is just a glorified excuse to find out masses of information about people and then sell them products – well, I don’t mind, so what’s the problem?
People are becoming so obsessed with sharing their lives that they actually go out of their way to do things that they know will look good on Instagram – yeah, yeah.
There are a lot of good things about social media. Or so I say. Creativity! Connections! Community! And to an extent I do believe that. I’ve met good people online. I’ve found my direction through blogging which, as an activity, is intrinsically linked to social media.
In fact, this is where I’m having an issue.
A while back, I had a revelation – that I just didn’t care about social media anymore. So I started to worry about it less. I’d bombarded myself with information – tweet between 7-10 times a day. Instagram twice a day. Facebook twice a day. I knew when, strategically, was the best time to post on social media. I understood hashtags and and networking and ‘branding’ and content and creating a consistent image so people would know it was me.
I suddenly became sick of it.
So I stepped back. I launched my new blog. I only posted on social media when I genuinely felt like it, not sticking to a schedule, not following ‘the rules’. And for a while I felt better.
But now I’m questioning it again.
There was a moment a few months ago where I nearly decided to give up completely. To shut down my accounts; to stop blogging; to quit online life. I felt fed up with myself. I didn’t want to add to the endless stream of noise, the constant communication of opinions. I felt completely jaded by how we interact on social media. The black-and-white thinking drives me insane. It’s like we’re losing the ability to actually listen to discourse. We’re all so busy shouting our feelings and opinions into the void. Instead of increasing connection, it seems to be dividing us, sectioning us into angry little tribes.
I was fed up with publicly displaying my life. I tried to be the Pinterest-perfect blogger a while ago. It didn’t last, so now I try to post things that feel real, to me. I do try to be real. And yes, a blog is essentially a megaphone for shouting opinions, and I do accept that, but blogging for me is integral to increasing my confidence in writing. Besides which, there are some incredibly talented Instagrammers, bloggers, and YouTubers out there who really do pour their heart and soul into their work, to create something they share with the world for free. There is value in that.
I’m still putting up with the consequences, though:
I still feel validated when people ‘like’ my stuff and I do feel a little bit dependent on those likes.
I still have the urge to check my phone compulsively in case I’ve missed something.
I can feel, when I’ve had a social-media-heavy few days, how it is shaping my brain, how the use of the internet trains my mind to read things in short bursts, and how it impedes my ability to concentrate.
I still feel anxious a lot. How do you get more followers? How do I ensure that people come to my blog? How can I start seeing my numbers go up? Because since I’ve decided to post less frequently online, my blog readers have stayed the same. Obviously. I mean, I’m not advertising it as much.
I still feel that I spend far, far too much time in my life staring at a phone screen.
I still feel that I give away my information to advertisers far too easily.
I still feel that I, like everyone else, have become entirely dependent upon Google to the point where I am just not patient enough to wait for information anymore.
And does it impact my life? Well, yes. Is it impacting my relationships? Probably. Is it impacting my relationship with God? Definitely.
So the conclusion I’ve come to is this:
I have an unhealthy relationship with the internet in general and it needs to change.
The problem is, I really enjoy blogging. You can’t have blogging without social media in some form or another, not in the long term. But I’m hoping a nice clean break will help me to figure that out. And Lent is coming, so why not?
I will be blogging, as I’ve got a few books to review, and WordPress will auto-share those blogs onto social media. So if you comment, I’m not being rude, I just haven’t seen them.
I will possibly pop onto Facebook if one of my Motherload blog posts are published, because I will need to share that on the group.
Other than that – no social media.
No Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter (let’s face it – I suck at Twitter anyway) between the 14th of February and the 31st of March, and, generally, I’ll be trying to stay away from the internet. I’ve already given up some major time-sucking websites this year, so I’ll continue that. I will also try not to watch YouTube unless my husband wants to show me a video.
I will probably keep track of how it’s going and what Offline Life is like, if you fancy reading it afterwards.
You can still email me: email@example.com. Email is fun, right?
If you feel any kind of pull of conviction somewhere in your heart while you’re reading this, then maybe you could join me? Let me know if you do.
There’s nothing to lose. And I really think there might be a lot to gain.
Anyway. I’ll guess I’ll see you in the spring.
*Credit for the photograph goes to Jellybean. Good job girl.*
Hey. Are you still reading?
Do you need further persuasion?
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