Escape From Social Media

Finally, I’m leaving social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit — redirecting my attention and my time to something more productive.

Like plenty others, I’m finally about to leave social media, and by that I mean Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit. This post is a personal point of view, it’s not intended as an exhaustive analysis on what is going on with social media, nor am I trying to convince anybody.

Why Leave Social Media?

Reason 1: Focus

I’m redirecting my attention and time to something more productive and fulfilling. I believe the term social media is an oxymoron. To me, its toxicity has got to a point of no return—not to mention the deliberate addictive mechanisms, their self-declared aim to hog our time as much as they can, and the massive problem with personal data. I don’t even want to go down that rabbit hole.

The thought process was all about: how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible? This means we had to give you a dopamine hit every once in a while.

Sean Parker, former Facebook president

Reason 2: All The Hate

The relentless promotion, by all social media giants, of hateful content such as misogyny, homophobia, racism, and more. The thick nutters peddling debunked conspiracies all day long and getting rewarded for doing that—I’m talking about holocaust deniers, anti-vaccines and other dangerous idiocy. Not to mention the sheer amount of highly controversial and polarising material.

It’s infuriating to the point of leaving me angry all day long. I also don’t want to examine the depressing long list of accusations of altering the course of major elections.

Reason 3: Sneaking Addiction

I used to be an avid reader and writer. Over the last ten years, both activities have reduced to a bare minimum. I don’t need to check the mediocre statistics in my Kobo, I’m painfully aware of the situation.

The choice of leaving has been brewing for a while. Because of the release of my concept album last year, I thought I had to ride the social media train for as long as I could. I have no idea about whether or not that was a good idea, the crucial point is how I allowed myself to be blackmailed into staying put.

Reason 4: Keyboard Warriors

Rare footage of a bunch of keyboard warriors, arguing about who’s going to piss the farthest. In real life, it is exhausting.

A fitting analogy for social media.

Reason 5: Behavioural Change, By Design

Listen to Sean Parker (former Facebook president) and Chamath Palihapitiya (former early senior executive at Facebook), spine-chilling discussion about how Facebook, and by extension social media, was designed to be as addictive as it could, and is now ripping society apart:


So, What Now?

At the moment, I’m back to the roots. I’m blogging again, while interacting with other writers like I used to do for most of the 2000s. It’s one of many direct ways to establish a direct connection with friends and strangers alike. When I want to know what other people are up to, I reach out by email or text, I sign up to their newsletter. I’m having conversations—imagine that. 

In a way, it’s very similar to attending a live concert, avoid shooting pointless videos and just—wait for it—enjoy the spectacle. Or watching a beautiful sunset without having the urge to take a picture and think about hashtags. Or having a nice meal for the sake of it. You get the gist.

How About The Business?

If anyone is in a similar situation as mine—a producer and musician running a small music business—I’m sorry I don’t have a recipe yet. What I’ve done so far is stop blackmailing myself into believing that social media is essential to my career.

I’m trying to build stronger relationships in the real world instead. Reach out directly to people. Stop thinking that multinationals handling and centralising all my communications is a good thing. I quit curating a fake persona that has no connection with the real me.

I still don’t know what the lives of my ‘followers’ really are. What is really going on with them? The point is I’ll never know. I opened up with a few of them, and received enthusiastic reactions. Like it’s something completely out of the ordinary.

Comment from a YouTube thread in one of Jaron Lanier’s interviews about leaving social media.

No, It’s Not Like Going Off-Grid

The most common reaction I get when I tell people I’m leaving social media is:

I think I know why you’re doing it. Bold decision, I admire you. I’d do it too if I could.

Ironically, this mirrors how people reacted ten years ago, when my wife and I announced we were leaving our country to move to the UK. And, similarly to what I used to reply at the time, I don’t think it’s a bold decision at all. On the contrary. The only way this can be seen as courageous, is if people see the addiction and realise they can’t get out of it. Of course, plenty of people are genuinely enjoying social media, no matter what. I’m not judging. Millions claim they love smoking cigarettes too.

Another common motif is that I’m supposedly going to become a hermit. Of course it’s preposterous. To put things in context: in 2020, 3.96 billion people—51% of the entire world population—are using social media (source: We Are Social). For the very first time, there are more people using these tools than do not. Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean that the whole 51% are active on social media, and the spike is most likely another side effect of COVID-19 and lockdowns.

That’s not the point though: I find it ridiculous to attach a hermit label to almost 4 billion people. Especially when I can be found in so many ways.

Comment from a YouTube thread in one of Jaron Lanier’s interviews about leaving social media.

Social Media, Digital Overload and Behavioural Modification

Tristan Harris

Your Phone Is Trying To Control Your Life

Find out more about Tristan Harris.

Cal Newport

Quit Social Media

More about Cal Newport here. I’m currently reading Digital Minimalism.

Jaron Lanier

Social Media Is Ruining Your Life

Also, watch a few videos by Jaron Lanier on the topic of social media. I’m reading his most recent book right now and it’s brilliant.

Here’s a short one:


Where To Find Me

If you already have my phone number, you can reach me on Telegram (preferred) or WhatsApp (at least until Telegram finally implements video calls).

I spent the last few days building bridges with people I want to keep in touch with. If you’re interested in knowing me better or having a chat, get in touch and I’ll respond.

To simply stay up to date with what I’m doing, the best way is to sign up to my newsletter. Not only you’ll receive my updates in a short digestible format, but you can also reply to newsletters and take it from there. I will actually listen to you and be available to discuss anything.

Or, you can follow my blog on WordPress and either reach out in the comments or using any of the links listed in this link tree page.


Conclusions

Thanks for reading. I’m sure I’ll be posting a follow-up in a few months or a year. Although unlikely, I might end up changing my mind. For now, I’ve been experiencing a few positive effects already.

I currently am:

  • reading two books at the same time, and chewing through my ‘read later’ list like I’ve never done in years;
  • feeling less burdened and way less angry than usual;
  • having deeper conversations with a group of people larger than my usual circle of close friends or family;
  • extremely productive—I migrated two websites in a week, along with the full restyle of both at the same time, and recorded the bass for a new song.

What about you?

I’m keen to hear your experience about this topic, whether you’ve left social media or not.


Credits: featured image by pixabay.com.


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6 replies on “Escape From Social Media”

I’ve been thinking about leaving Social Media for years, but I’ve not made that crucial step yet because most of my relationships are based on deep connections through Social Media platforms. Anyway, in the last months I took many social media breaks and I’m going to take a new one in a few days. I felt the strong urge to improve my productivity and my mental health, taking a break from hate speech / posts helped me a lot.
I share your feelings, I don’t know if I’ll leave Social Media but I’ll keep taking breaks every once in a while

That’s one way to approach the problem that I’ve taken into serious consideration for a while. I think what gave me the final nudge was the feeling “if social media is all there is between us, there really is little to nothing”. But that’s valid for me, I agree it’s very personal. Thanks for sharing your point of view, I can fully relate to this.

Good move! Take back control of your own time. Hats off. I’ve had recent success on Twitter, connected very well with a few enlightened musos there.. Refreshing to say the least. And this little oasis of ppl turn Socialmedia on its head..not out for self.. But prefer to support each other. Fb on the other hand.. Use less and less. I always have a book or 2 on the go too. .now reading books on direct marketing.. Now I know all about it! And am applying it. No need to fall for those marketing experts/courses that promise all sorts for.. Not 10,000, not 1000, not 99, but 37$. Never fell for them anyway. See you in your blogs!

Yeah, I should have pointed out that I’m aware and fully understand that many people are quite happy with their social media engagement. In my case, I can’t unsee the behaviour manipulation, the way algorithms shift everything away from real interactions. Or, simply put, I’m not able to create a space for myself there that’s safe enough. I get involved and worked up with politics, and that’s probably the top reason why social media isn’t really for me.

Hi Simone,

I wanted to say hi and ask how your social media leaving has been since August?
I’m conscious we’ve not spoken but that is my doing as I’m finding unless people are on social media then I don’t make the effort to get in touch.
I guess I’m having a similar conundrum you had earlier in the year. Maybe I need to review my reliance on the platforms too.
Hope you are well anyway, I’ll catch you on WhatsApp soon.

Martin.

Hey Martin,

Glad to hear from you 🙂 Leaving social media turned out to be the best choice I could do. Everything that I was anticipating just got real in a few weeks. I got plenty of time for activities that I was neglecting, and, especially valuable to me, I decreased my rage. This happened by simply not being exposed to the waves of arseholes that are constantly pushed and rewarded by every social network out there.

I managed to sell all our furniture, move country and settle back in Europe, during a global pandemic. I wrote an ebook, co-produced and mixed a new song and recorded a few bass tracks.

Last but not least, I started having direct and more meaningful conversations, which I guess is the biggest prize. What you just said, “unless people are on social media, then I don’t make the effort to get in touch” is the key to your conundrum. Social media aren’t people, they aren’t made for people, their goal was never to facilitate people getting in touch, it’s clear as day. Their business model was, and still is, the same as when they started. Suck up as much time as they can from people’s lives, get their data, sell them, turn people into a live audience they can feed to their real customers: companies and corporations who use these networks as an advertising platform.

They’re compelled to perpetuate this system as long as they can, therefore, as time goes by, social media will be distancing itself from that ‘connecting people’ fake mantra they sold so well.

My antidote was to get email addresses, phone numbers where possible, but especially subscribing to email newsletters and blogs that interested me. I get all the information I truly need from there. If I used to follow musicians on Twitter or elsewhere, I now get their updates from either newsletters or Bandcamp, or blog/website if they have one. It’s pretty much what we all did before social media, and I can’t fathom why people are still convinced that centralizing all communications through a powerful cloud computer governed by an algorithm is a good idea.

I hope we’ll catch up soon.
Simone

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