I didn’t unfriend you. We are still friends regardless of a profile on a website. I just do not want to be on social media. Today I deactivated my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. I do not plan on coming back. Having recently experienced a lot of harassment and bullying, I have decided that my life is better off without these sites. I’ve been considering leaving social media for almost a decade, and I’ve reached the point where it no longer serves me to be on them.
I know, I know, it’s the middle of a pandemic, and we cannot get together in person. Why would I delete my social media when we all need to stay connected? Connected isn’t really how it feels when I am online these days. True connection for me is a one on one in person thing where neither one of us expects anything from the other except each other’s presence.
The internet seemed friendlier in the 1990s. I’ve been online since 1997. I was 14. I used to make fan websites for bands and television shows that I loved, and made friends with people over mutual interests in chat rooms and web forums. The internet has changed a lot since then.
My recent brush with fame changed my desire to be so forthcoming. You really don’t know who you’re talking to most of the time. I don’t like posting details about my personal life online anymore. If it is that meaningful of an experience for me, it will usually turn into a poem.
Granted, there isn’t much going on to post about with the stay at home order since my life mostly consists of streaming movies and getting groceries, but this desire to share changed long before that.
It is difficult to give real attention to 4,000 people. When you have numerous followers, and let everyone in, it becomes impossible to keep up with everyone, your feed gets flooded with posts, and posts by your close friends get buried.
Most of the time I would miss important posts by people I care about or about subjects that I am interested in because of non-chronological algorithms. My posts that were important that I’d hoped for more engagement might be missed by others in favor of paid content. I’ve often likened these sites to yelling underwater. Real connection is when both parties are listening, not muting one another, or making assumptions.
I know they say writers and artists need social media, but I haven’t seen many sales from it over the years. I’m not here to create content for social media websites when I have my own website for which I pay hosting fees.
I have very little to post about these days with regards to my poetry due to the pandemic outlawing performing to an audience in person. While I have kept writing and submitting, I have only featured thrice this entire year and my book sales have ground to a halt without the opportunity to sell in person.
My social media inboxes were often filled with chain letters, memes, come ons, donation asks, and requests for favors, but very few people actually wanting to keep in touch with me or asking me to read poetry—the two main reasons I had accounts in the first place.
I frequently logged on to find an atmosphere where everyone wants to argue over even the most benign things. It’s a very reactive atmosphere that has lead to many misunderstandings. Connection for me is a sense of harmony and these websites are often quite anti-social. It is hard to stay mindful in an environment that programs you to immediately react.
It stops being fun when every post becomes a topic for debate between those following you. A barrage of friendly comments, hearts, and likes is wonderful and uplifting, but a barrage of arguments, judgment, angry emojis, and insults is not.
As to important discussions, rather than arguing on social media about social issues, I would rather be signing petitions or writing government officials in order to change things.
We often forget we are talking to our fellow humans while online, and social media becomes a way of being easily used and abused by other people. No one person can be everything to everybody, come to every person’s event or zoom meeting, and do every action item or donate for every cause.
I am tired. I don’t have the bandwidth for it. I have a lot going on right now that I do not talk about publicly. Deleting social media will reduce a lot of unnecessary stress in my life.
I would rather use that energy to write poetry and focus on real life. If we are friends, feel free to email me sometime, and when the pandemic is over, perhaps, we can chat in person.
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