I’ve been frustrated with social media for a while. Well, really, I’ve been frustrated with social media from the beginning. But now that I think about it, I can’t even remember when my life started to be systematically controlled by social media. I had a Myspace in middle school? I think middle school? And it’s been a long, dark path ever since.
But Abigail, don’t be negative! Social media is great! It connects us to people we otherwise wouldn’t be able to contact! You would be left out of the loop if you leave! What else would you do with your time? You’re so vain for wanting to opt out!
Yes, internet stranger, you’re right. Maybe I am stupid for wanting to opt out. Maybe I’m vain for thinking I’m self-confident and forthcoming enough to “not need” social networking.
I get why people get weird when others drop out of the social network sphere. My roommate said she thinks it’s weird when a guy doesn’t have a Facebook (Maybe he’s a player! Maybe he’s a serial killer! Maybe he’s a fugitive!) My friend Allie responded when I told her I wanted to avoid social networking, “No, you won’t.”
Honestly, it’s true. I’m not about to go cold turkey and delete my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and everything else. But I want to clean up my social presence. That doesn’t mean that I have some compromising photos of me downing alcohol from shot luges or anything like that, but I just want to make my time online more efficient and valuable. I can’t say that I will give up completely on social networking because it really is important for things like events and people who live in other places who I only talk to online.
But I’m tired of using these same excuses over and over again to myself and to others. Yes, I use Facebook for events and yes, I use Facebook to talk to people who live far away. But let’s be honest. Most of the time we spend online on Facebook or Buzzfeed or Gawker doesn’t contribute very much to our greater selves and even to our daily selves. Being online has become less of a relaxation tool and more of a chore — and a self-conscious chore at that.
Maybe not everyone’s the same way. Maybe they are. But I have become more and more self-aware, self-conscious and negative online. I think social networking is important but I’ve come to the point where I’m no longer enjoying being online. I’m exhausted from checking all these websites and not feeling like I’ve received any personal benefit. I know that’s selfish.
Today I came across a little piece Nate Thayer wrote about the whole social networking thing: “Social Media Frightens Me: The Thoughtful Confessions of a Confirmed Skeptic”. Here’s a section:
“I find no intellectual satisfaction or entertainment with accepting a limit of 140 characters to express myself. Nor have I identified a potential, while restricted by those parameters, for engaging in meaningful conversation or dialogue. Even more profound, I find it impossible to identify under such rules of engagement, if those I attempt to engage are worthy of my effort or time. It is too often a reckless gamble with the odds unworthy of purchasing the irredeemable chips required to gain entrance to that casino.
Much of the time it seems the simple silent presence of another human, only the soothing sound of their breathing and not uttering a word, would be more satisfying than the faceless, soulless millions who, simultaneously both non-verbal and recklessly communicating, are always available and sometimes desperate.”
The internet is a sad, lonely place. But I know that it’s not all doom and gloom, and I want to transform my negative perspective to a positive one. I recently bought a camera after my long-time DSLR broke a while ago, and I wanted to use this camera as a documentation of my life instead of Facebook. I’ll still get online occasionally on Facebook, but I’m really only going to post the photos I take in my life. I also want to include everyone I photograph, so that’s why I’m not totally going off into the deep end of non-internet life. And besides, I can’t really give up the internet with what I’m doing career-wise.
I’m also going to make a blog/website where I post my photos and reflect on them (maybe). I want it to be a space where I can focus my energy and my life. To be continued.