A couple of months ago I logged out of Reddit and it deleted it from my phone. It was the latest of several socials medias to go — first it was Facebook (3 years ago), then Instagram (1 year and a half ago), then Reddit.
For each of these, it mainly came down to the fact that I couldn’t seem to stop scrolling and spending hours on my phone, not feeling any happier or productive at the end of it — not really feeling anything.
For the time I’ve been gone, I haven’t missed it. There are days when I feel lonely —that it feels like I don’t have many friends — but this feeling was also there when I was on social media. While it doesn’t feel like I’m any more productive, I’m sure I’ve saved time.
Today, hesitantly, I logged into Instagram for, of all things, a work assignment. My first thought (after ‘it’s so frustrating that they make you sign in’) was: ‘look how pretty everything is!’ Because the thousands of photos, bright and cheerful, do look gorgeous. This was quickly followed by a pang of:
I’m falling behind.
I like to think of myself as adaptable, open, curious. But if I’m not adapting to technology, for instance not engaging in twitter/instagram/tiktok — is this ok? Do I resign myself to being out of touch?
I am struggling with the feeling of being forgotten and not seen. I’m 27 and already feeling what I had imagined would take many more years to feel, which is left behind. On one hand, I know I feel mentally better being not seen and stepping out of the views game. On the other hand, I keep thinking of what’s the harm of making videos/taking pictures and posting them? Why don’t I want to try that?
I don’t have an answer for myself. If I were a perfect human, I would be able to regulate myself so that I wouldn’t fall into pits of comparison and I would spend just the right amount of time to enjoy it instead of scrolling away the hours. I am not perfect, and I know that I would start comparing and feeling jealous.
Reading about dopamine detox and watching the Social Dilemma has helped me, somewhat, in this struggle. That maybe there’s a lot more like me who have left social media to feel better. But I also wonder if these same people, like me, are struggling with feeling left behind. Of wanting to be connected to the hive mind of culture and ideas, but also wanting to get away.
I haven’t come up with an answer.