I deleted social media off my phone a month ago. I didn’t have much of a reason. Immediately after announcing it, there were some friends who were somewhat shocked — they reached out, commending me for my noble act, claiming I was “stronger” than they were. Honestly, I think it would be unwise to call myself “strong” for deleting the apps, but likewise, it would be arrogant to say that it meant nothing to do so. In reality, I was at home, it was the 31st, and I was eating cereal while watching the Today show — a rare luxury. Hoda must have said something that made the idea pop into my head: do away with all social media applications, but not my accounts. Just take a break from it, no deadlines. And with that, I kept munching on brown sugar Oatmeal Squares.
I knew it wouldn’t be a 100% break from social media, as I do promotional work through Facebook. But that would only happen on my laptop, a couple nights a week. The other apps — Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter — I wouldn’t access at all. It felt like a positive thing, considering my phone tells me every week that I’m spending, on average, two hours a day staring at its screen. So utterly cringe-worthy. The way I saw it, I had all the phone numbers of people I care about; I could always text them or call them or send them photos. If I was bored, I could open up the Kindle app and read. The end.
The first week without the apps was admittedly weird. I’d find myself checking my phone with nothing to actually check. I’m not popular; I don’t receive a lot of texts, nor do I send many. So without social apps, there really wasn’t much to see. I certainly did not miss Facebook sending me irrelevant notifications all day, and I was relieved that Twitter couldn’t pull me in when I desperate for distraction. Prior to deleting it, Snapchat was only for snapping my family’s group chat (“The Fam Bam”) and my adopted Boulder dad, so I didn’t mind losing that, either. (It should be known that 90% of the Fam Bam snaps were from my dad Steve, a Snapchat legend of sorts. The other 10% were basically me responding. I decided we’d find an alternative to communicate, perhaps carrier pigeon.) The only app that I missed, frankly, was Instagram.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t miss the scroll-sucking torture of Insta, nor the targeted ads. I just missed seeing something that caught my eye, posting it, and awaiting what sort of response it elicited. As time passed without it, I realized certain things that I had been posting were inane and now, thankfully, weren’t bothering anyone. But sometimes, I’d see something funny or weird or thought-provoking that I wish the larger community could see and discuss with me. And texting individual people that photo seemed like a hassle.
Throughout the month, I became extra cynical (and I’m highly cynical to begin with), chastising myself for even missing Instagram. I even considered deleting this blog altogether — I don’t have anything that important to say, no one cares about my opinions or the dumb photos I take, etc. Then I realized I was being ridiculous — my parents care about my opinions. Well, sometimes. They kind of have to.
All joking aside, I realized recently that I was feeling lonelier than usual, and that the lack of Instagram might be contributing, as lame as that may sound. When I use Instagram, I often don’t scroll through the feed. I just look at people’s stories and post stories of my own. And by posting stories, I interact with a lot of people. Shockingly, people besides my close friends would react to the stories. You’d be amazed at the folks who crawl out of the wood work — people from high school and middle school, summer camp, friends of friends, people I haven’t seen or talked to in years. But for a brief moment or even through a lengthy conversation, we can reconnect. And a photo sparked it. I genuinely believe that I was feeling lonesome because I wasn’t connecting with people as much in this manner.
So I’m back. I’m back to posting my sunrise run stories and beer reviews (sorry folks), though I’d like to post less often and more meaningfully (whatever that means). I’m limiting the amount of time I can spend on Insta and the number of people I can see on it. And it feels right. As I was explaining earlier to my grandfather, who cannot tolerate nor understand all of these apps, social media is what you make of it; if you enjoy it, keep it, and if it irritates you, delete it.
If you’ve made it this far on this post, having clicked on its link from Instagram, congratulations! You have a high tolerance for my pondering prose that never fully arrives at a strong takeaway. Here’s a caption for you:
living my best life this 2020. Went snowmobiling for the first time, drank craft beer / ate gourmet grilled cheese / jammed with Steve, spray painted in a ghostbusters suit, checked out the stock show, hung out in Basalt, saw Saint Motel (you know they’re just my type), and was reunited with my roomies, where my last post began. ready for some more nonsense.
If you just read that whole post having not clicked on it from Instagram, you really need to get off my blog and find something better to do with your time. (Like go on Instagram?) Xoxo, Slaico.