Today was the day I quit social media for good. There are many reasons why I decided to quit, but I am most excited about all of the benefits that come with it.
The first thing I noticed today was how much time I had and how much more productive I felt during my day! Social media hasn’t just taken away precious hours of my time, but it’s also distracted me from what I could get done during the day. At the end of the day, social media just led me to be less productive as well as less happy overall in my daily life.
Social media can have a positive effect on our mental health, but only when interactions with our social networks are productive and meaningful. But, unless you are having good interactions, social media can actually detract from your self-esteem or worse, lead you into depression. It’s also common for people to compare themselves to the perfect images they see on social media and end up feeling inferior.
What was happened for me on Twitter and Instagram was actually even worse. Every day, someone had something nasty to say to me. Because of all the negativity being flung at me digitally on a regular basis, I even found it more difficult to be myself with my regular friends offline.
While I at first would simply get offline and try to shrug them off, they came so frequently that I finally couldn’t help but take them all as deeply personal attack. Over time, it became clearer that there is no way to win when you’re participating in a forum of people who are mostly frauds, liars, and cheaters. Those who did seem to care about me simply were attempting to ride my coat-tails, and as soon as they realized I wasn’t giving into their nonsense, they turned angrily on me, and in turn, turned others against me.
One could argue that as long as you are in the public eye, negativity is just part of the game. People are going to like what they like, and people are going to hate what they hate. Obviously, I will never make everyone happy; but, with social media, the negativity became part of my daily routine.
Finally, my wife came to me today and said, “if you don’t get off of Twitter and Instagram, my own mental health is going to suffer right along with yours”.
After weeks of consideration, I’ve finally come to the decision that it’s time for me to stop using social media. Instagram was the first social network profile I closed.
Years ago, Flickr was my main photo-sharing platform, and was essentially replaced by Instagram. As a master photographer, Instagram helped me feel like I was on an infinite voyeuristic high—getting constant snippets of someone else’s life to add to mine as proof that I’m living an exciting life, too. It helped me escape for a few minutes at a time when nothing seemed to go right in my own world; that was worth something.
A few years ago, a few jealous people decided to spam every single one of my posts on the platform. Instagram received so many spam reports that they suspended and ultimately deleted my original account. About six months ago, despite protests from my wife, I started a new account to post daily selfies.
Before this morning, my second Instagram account was active and all my posts were public. As a woman, I received constant contacts from men and women alike offering to be my sugar daddy or sugar mama. At first it was amusing, but as my wife continued to remind me, you don’t need the nonsense. Other people sent me messages telling me how ugly and fat they thought I was, relentlessly picking at all of my so-called physical flaws. A handful of people downplayed my success and called my career into question.
Day after day, the disgusting offers from strangers grew more numerous and I couldn’t keep up with the messages any more. Some of them began asking for sex in exchange for money, while others just wanted to tell me how gross or unattractive I am.
It became too much and despite reporting these abusive accounts to the administrators, these men were determined, and the administration failed to make them go away. Instead, it just made them try harder because now they knew that they had reached an actual human instead of an automated account, at which point they simply created new accounts to use to harass me.
Finally, Amelia convinced me that it was only going to make me lose all of the self-confidence I’ve gained over the past few years, and deactivating this account was just the first step in my social media damage control.
Twitter was the second social network profile I closed, as it became a numbers game. I was following everyone I found interesting, and then most of those people followed me back. Everyone on Twitter values their profile according to a numeric ratio of how many people they are following compared to the number of people following them. As time went on, these same people began to unfollow me, and on countless occasions, I would receive nasty direct messages whenever I unfollowed someone.
I felt pressure to be active on it, which meant tweeting a lot. The hope was that when I would tweet or mention someone, they would see it and feel obligated to respond. As has become quite the news, the Twitter-sphere can be very volatile and negative at times, even more-so now than ever. The whole thing became a mess of thoughts and opinions I didn’t want to deal with anymore, and no matter what I said, people would tell me I was doing something wrong. People would invite me to Twitter Groups and Spaces only to ban me because I didn’t fit their style or clique.
Despite Twitter being the place I met Amelia, that was no longer worth holding to it. In fact, my wife gave up her social media just this past week, choosing instead to focus entirely on SEO for her website. The final straw, however, was when someone else I’d met on the platform, someone I considered a close friend, cut off all contact with me and began telling lies to everyone about her training and occupation just to make people follow her.
It’s time to get connected in the real world again. Now is the time to meet a friend for coffee, invite them over for dinner, or reconnect through engaged meaningful conversation, instead of texts or Twitter. I used to love staying in touch on social media, but as social media usage increased exponentially and more people are living online than ever before, I realized that it was becoming detrimental to my life and my relationships in both real life as well as online.
The header image was created using Canva.
How To Reduce Digital Distractions: Advice From Medieval Monks | We Have To Talk About Twitter | Twitter Is The Worst Reader | You Really Need to Quit Twitter | Why I Deleted My Instagram Account Forever: Social Media, Peer Pressure And Living In The Moment | Instagram is Dying — For Photographers | Things I’ve Learned From Quitting Instagram | I Prefer To Avoid The Trappings Of Modern Life | How The Polarizing Effect Of Social Media Is Speeding Up | The Last Days Of Twitter