Why I'm deleting my social media accounts
Oh my gosh, I’ve wanted to do this for a long time but I’m finally brave enough to do it! I’m deleting my social media accounts. I've already deleted Facebook and Instagram, and Twitter is soon to follow! Here are some reasons why:
1. I hate using social media
I mean maybe there doesn’t need to be any more reason than this? I used to enjoy it when it was much simpler, but now I just don’t enjoy logging on to a website and being bombarded with hundreds of things a computer thinks I want to see. Twitter now shows me what people I follow have “liked,” not just what they’ve chosen to share. I don’t care! If they wanted to share it they would share it! Facebook used to only give notifications when someone had commented, replied or liked one of my posts, but increasingly it's constant pinging about other people's posts, events, stories, nagging me to post on my page and AGH! There’s just so much noise and I find it overwhelming.
2. I feel bad when I use social media
Whenever I spend time on social media I don’t come away feeling better for it. Maybe I’ll learn something about a friend, find a few cool things or interesting articles, but most of the time I’ll just read a stream of all that is broken in the world, and a bunch of people shouting their opinions and being rude to each other. I don’t know why I would ever consciously choose to do that, but I do it multiple times a day!
3. It messes with my focus and self control
I’m completely addicted to social media, even when I have a break or try to instill some self-controlling measures I always end up back in the same pattern of refresh the feed, refresh the feed, refresh the feed. While I acknowledge that I am to blame for this, it’s difficult to maintain measures of self-control when the platform you are using is actively designed to foster addictive behaviour.
4. I don’t like giving my data to huge corporations to do with as they please
There’s a saying that on the Internet if you are not paying for the product, you are the product. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are free to use because they're collecting data about their users all the time and selling this data to advertisers. The amount of data they collect on us is horrifying, and the data collecting follows us all around the internet, not just when we're using the platforms directly. I’m not willing to give that kind of data away anymore.
5. Social media companies have too much power to manipulate us
Following on from this, there is now public evidence that companies use the data they collect through our use of social media to actively manipulate us into behaving in certain ways. This can be used to encourage people to buy products, but even more sinisterly to sew division and hate in order to influence political outcomes - as seen with the Cambridge Analytica scandal during the Trump election. I’ve had a feed blocker on Facebook for a long time so I think I’ve been immune to such tactics, but I don’t want to feed companies which allow this kind of psychological mass-manipulation to happen in the first place. These platforms also use algorithms that promote content that sparks strong emotional reactions whether the content is factually correct or not, which can serve to galvanise extreme viewpoints and increase polarisation, recently harnessed by the military in Myanmar to incite a genocide. Ultimately I think these systems are driving people further apart rather than closer together.
6. There are so many other things I’d rather be doing
When I am an old man, I hope I’ll look back on my life and say “Wow, I spent a lot of time with people I care about, made loads of cool things, and had fun doing it!” and then die with a smile on my face, as the last fart leaks from my bum with a contented sigh.
I don’t think I’ll have the same feeling of contentment if I look back and say “Wow. I spent a lot of time on social media.” No matter how many memes I heart.
Here's a big list of the harms of social media and other attention manipulating tech with relevant sources and studies. I may add more links here as I find them.
What about you?
How do you feel about social media at the moment? I'm interested to know your thoughts!