I love social media. That’s why I’m trying to get away from it.
Okay, let me backtrack a moment.
Like many of us (almost all of us nowadays, really), I owe an immense amount of gratitude to social media for helping me get to where I’m at now. Even though I initially joined Facebook and Twitter way back in 2009ish, my obsession really started long before that with my “Where’s My Manvelope?” blog and (gulp!) Myspace. And let’s not forget about email, the O.G./Great Grandaddy of all social networking sites. Through these new modes of interactive media (for the time), I was able to forge new friendships and raise thousands of dollars for various creative projects, which summoned into existence a career path I never dreamed I’d help pioneer and pave. And this was all because of social media and my diehard zeal for it.
But at what point does social media become just more noise distracting you from the myriad things that actually matter? More so, when does it turn into a hindrance to a healthy state of mind, body, and spirit?
For me, it took quite a while. And it also took me a journey deep into the Catskills to make me understand that it can happen at any point, and without our conscious knowledge. In a small town called Bovina, population of just over 600 in 2010, I stayed with my fiancée Marinell in a thipi (I shit ye not –– a teepee, though I’m not sure why it’s spelled it different, but it’s probably a “politically correct” thing), where we were cut off from everything for four days. No phone signal. No internet. Severely limited Wi-Fi. Eventually, our phones died, and all we had was each other.
And it was wonderful.
With our umbilical ties to our digital selves severed, we were able to truly enjoy only each other’s company; to eat at a restaurant and be 100% present, focused on one another, the delectable food (Cheers, Brushland!), the wine’s flavorful bouquet (Eminence Road Cab Franc for the win!), and no need to let the food get a few degrees colder while we posted to Instagram. We’d never have been able to marvel at thousands of fireflies hovering inches above the dewy grass attempting to mirror the starlit night above them, and us. Simply sleeping as close to nature as this pair of Jersey City slickers can get. For now. (File under: “glamping.”)
Yeah, I get it. You’re thinking: But people do this all the time, Trig. #WorkHardPlayHard, and I get that cal –– again, I get it, more than many of us out there. But why do we have to go back to it? Rather, why do we feel we have to go back to it? We don’t.
I got home four days later, and aside from feeling freshly inspired to dive as quickly as possible into into all the many things I want to do in this life, projects I’m pushing up my little hill, I also returned with a deeper desire to remain as isolated as I could from as much of the social mediascape which I felt defined me so fully only a week prior. I mean, why was I checking into places on Swarm like it was a religious duty? How could two days without having something Instagram-worthy incite slight palpitations like tiny heartquakes deep beneath my chest?
And why in the hell am I still on Facebook?!
I deleted Swarm and a bunch of other useless apps on my iPhone, and I’m not worried about going a few days without posting a photo on Instagram anymore. And I’m in the process of weaning myself off of Facebook (baby steps) because, to put it bluntly, I have too many “friends” that I don’t actually know, and to quote Pearl Jam, “I’m a lucky man to count on both hands the ones I love.” If we aren’t gonna connect on a regular basis, what’s the point? I’m happy with many of the acquaintances I’ve made back during the genesis of social media, and even recently, as evidenced by the fact that we do speak regularly. Back then, and before it became just another marketing strategy for companies and news websites, social media was truly a social experience.
Lucky for me, Facebook’s made leaving a lot easier because of those silly background patterns that are really just a desperate gasp of a last ditch effort to make even our most mundane status updates stand out and be noticed. And I for one don’t want to be noticed for the sake of being another momentary blip on Facebook’s algorithm to the hundred of my nearly 1,700 acquaintances it notices I actually interact with, or just to stay relevant.
Social media, when it ceases to be social, loses the value that originally made it stand out and be noticed. Nowadays, a status update from a friend will always be second to our own. That said, why post anything less than our best? Than something that matters, if we feel the genuine need to post anything at all?
Sometimes silence is the noise we’ll ever need, the update that speaks volumes.
* * * * *
What do you think? Has social media become more social or antisocial?
(Oh, and don’t worry, Facebook might be on the outs for me, but you’ll still be able to find an engaged Trigonis on Twitter and Instagram (@Trigonis on each), so let’s interact over there, and I’ll see you next time!