I’ve decided to stop using social media indefinitely. Specifically, I’m not going to use it for engaging in “personal” conversations. That means I’ll not be tweeting at anyone to reply to something they’ve said, or commenting on people’s life updates on IG or Facebook or LinkedIn. I will be keeping my accounts but I won’t be using them much.
This decision is multi-faceted.
First, I’ve become a dad this week. Our first child, Charlotte, was born and she and her mother who is a superhero have filled my heart with so much love I know I don’t need to look elsewhere (like my work) for more, at least for now.
Second, in the rare pockets of time where I could stop and think this week while caring for my daughter and wife in post-partum recovery (with surgery), I have come to realise how shallow my relationships with people online are.
I have a handful of real friends with whom I have eagerly shared “too many” photos of Charlotte. I pick photos that cater to each friend’s interests, one by one although not painstakingly. It was joyful and it was natural, unlike posting on social media.
I find one-to-one WhatsApp messages infinitely more intimate and meaningful than one-to-many social media posts and tweets.
Friends send their thoughts directly by WhatsApp, email, or Instagram direct message where nobody else can see. Online acquaintances do the opposite and mostly reply in public, which I suppose is all part of a game. I no longer want to participate in people’s performances of their identities, and I no longer want to partake in performing my own identity online either. It’s senseless. These friends online will never know the richness in you as a person, unless they cross over to being a real friend. I’ve yet to make one lasting friend through that kind of leap.
Third, my time just got a lot more scarce. Caring for a newborn is a no-joke-full-time job and it is a wonderful time that I want to fully experience. As Charlotte grows, I want to be there as much as I can to witness as many new things with her as possible so that when I’m older we can trade stories of “do you remember that time?” To have those times means I’ll have to reclaim my time from elsewhere. Twitter, for example, where I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time on lately trying to build friendships. What was I thinking?
Frankly, I believe a retreat from social media will help me think better. No more crowdthink. No more noise. And thinking better means living better.
Alright, so those are the main reasons. So now what?
As I said, I love having deep connections that arise from one-to-one conversations. If that’s what you want as well, then feel free to send me an email. I will reply when I find the time. If that’s not your thing, then you should probably unfollow, unsubscribe, and unfriend me on the various social platforms. No hard feelings; those brittle connections hardly mean a thing to me now.
I will continue to post once weekly on this blog as I have over the last year and half as it continues to be my space for thinking and sharing broadly things that I’m working on and things that I believe matter. This blog works completely differently from social media in that it has no commenting feature and that when a new post goes live, it either goes up quietly, or it lands in your email where you can read and reply to me directly and privately.
Update (7 Nov 2021): I’ve started to use Instagram again, but I hold on to the same principles as above. See Why I’m active on Instagram again.