I’m not using social media right now. The shift was subtle in late 2020, and then, after the insanity of the US election season and the Insurrection, I deactivated Facebook and Twitter. I had to take a few steps back. I couldn’t control the information I was consuming, and as such, my well-being suffered. I had horrible, anxious dreams.
We are not meant to consume information like this. We should not be constantly bombarded.
The algorithms Facebook uses are dangerous. Twitter enabled Donald Trump. Both have enabled the despicable partisanship in America fester to the boiling point we witnessed in January. I know it’s not all the platform’s fault. We’re still fighting the Civil War. The animosity between the Left and the Right has always been there. But I know social media is not helping. I also know how I felt the last time I signed into Facebook and was bombarded by my news feed. Overwhelmed. Hopeless.
I’m not sure we’re ready as a species to use such tools responsibility, and I just don’t want to participate with them right now. I don’t want my information to be a commodity these companies use to derive a profit until I feel greater trust in the long term impact social media. Study after study shows its responsible for decreasing empathy. That the notifications, likes, and reactions are designed to keep you hooked, leveraging tricks used by casinos.
But deactivating social media just wasn’t enough. I then cancelled my subscriptions to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Now, I only get a paper copy of AZ Republic delivered. I read that with lunch and don’t look at the news again for the day.
I feel so much better.
I know there are benefits of social media. Keeping in touch with friends and family. Animal advocacy and dog rescue. I am sure people miss pics and stories about my senior dogs. I miss interacting with so many people. But the digital world just feels too noisy for me right now. I’ve kept my Instagram account, though it is private now. My wife uses it quite a bit and I love to see what she’s doing. I also follow a lot of dogs I’m really attached to. If you’d like to connect you can find me @jenjensenauthor. I don’t post much anymore but I check it once a week. I’m also on Goodreads.
A month or so ago, I started reading books about silence and solitude. I love technology, but I’ve returned to reading paperbacks and just listening to the radio. My goal is to use my digital phone for less than thirty minutes a day. I have a landline and I call people on it. I showed my five year old niece how it works and she squealed with wonder and delight. “Where is the screen to see people?” she asked.
I long for the simplicity of pre-digital life. When I wasn’t expected to be constantly available. When news wasn’t flying through the ether faster than I have time to process it.
I’m well and good. My life is happy and whole and revolves around Sarah, dogs, my family, friends, and work. It’s quieter. I don’t look at my phone very often. I don’t post about it. But it still happens, unfolding into ever opening expanses of time, unencumbered by obligation, noise, or addictive technology.
I have no judgement about anyone else’s use of these platforms. The past year has been so difficult, I know for many people, it’s been a lifeline to connection. I know people who earn the living using social tools. We’re all fumbling our way in this new world, trying to figure it out as we go. We are all in process.
Much love & peace,