cft

Another Millennial Cutting Back on (Not Quitting) Social Media

Why I am taking a proactive approach to social media and limiting my use of certain channels


user

Jenny Radloff

3 years ago | 6 min read

I realize it sounds kind of lame that I’m not making a full boycott. It sounds like I’m not actually taking a stand, but I am

First, let me clarify what my cause is not: privacy. I understand that to use free platforms for our own enjoyment, advertising is going to be a part of that experience.

And for advertisers to ultimately fund our free use of these applications, they need our data for more effective targeting. I’m cool with that. I’ve actually even found some of the ads to be helpful and have made purchases directly from social media.

Facebook, however, has certainly breached consumers’ trust by breaking their own policies with how they share data, but I honestly never read the terms of agreement that closely to know how my data was being used (maybe I should have?).

My Social Media Diet

Today, my social media “diet” includes using, limiting use of or completely abandoning the following channels:

  • Facebook: I deleted the mobile application back in the fall of 2018. I do, however, occasionally visit the desktop site, which is far less than I would have on my phone.
  • Snapchat: In December 2018, I deleted the app from my phone, and I haven’t gone back.
  • Instagram: The same (as Snapchat’s use) applies here, but with one exception. I DO run an Insta account for my dog @lilbrunothepug (follow him!), so I have only logged in via the mobile website to post on his behalf every once in a while. And he only follows dogs so I am not checking other humans’ content updates.
  • Twitter & LinkedIn: I am still active on these channels. For the most part, I find they add value beyond selfies and pregnancy announcements. I read news and industry articles, network and find these platforms to be useful in my day-to-day life and profession, which is in technology public relations.

The Last Straw(s)

Honestly for me, there was no one moment that caused me to evaluate and change my social media usage. It was a culmination of several things, with the primary factors being:

  • Valuable Time Wasted on Screens: Our iPhones started tracking and proactively alerting us to daily and weekly time spent staring at our screens. I realized that every morning, I would immediately grab my phone upon waking up, and suddenly 30 minutes to an hour might pass before I got out of bed because I was checking every social media channel on my phone religiously until there were no more updates to read. I would often do the same when going to bed. What a total waste of time. I always feel like there are not enough hours in the day and then here I am, wasting two hours just mindlessly scrolling!
  • A Filtered, False Sense of Reality: I’m no expert, but I think it’s safe to say that social media can subconsciously make us feel bad about ourselves. Think about it. I only posted the good things — a photo of my husband and I at a wedding dressed to the nines or a story of my friends and I having a hysterical time on a vacation. For the most part, those I follow would do the same, giving the false perception that everyone is always happy, popular and beautiful. From the perfected poses, to the filtered images to making sure anything that was “insta-worthy” was captured and shared with the world in that moment… it was all becoming too forced and fake for me. I understand why we don’t post negative or mundane things (though I did once accidentally post an Insta story of myself checking out at the grocery store!), but without “real life” content, we’re viewing an unattainable, fantasy world.
  • Some Things Are Better Left Unseen: Don’t get me wrong, social media is great for keeping in touch with people. I get to see who is married, who has had kids and view pictures of folks I haven’t seen in a while. Unfortunately, we have passed the threshold for how many people we can keep up with and how many details of their lives we know about. It got to the point where my entire Facebook news feed would be lots of children, and some who I wouldn’t even know…like the nephew of someone I haven’t seen in 12 years. Personally, I love viewing pictures of my niece and my cousins’ kids and knowing that an old friend is pregnant — but I probably don’t need to know about every detail of the lives of people who I was never very good friends to begin with, but had known peripherally at one time. I used to “friend” anyone I met, and now I see how that is backfiring and it’s time to go in reverse, cutting back who and what I keep up with.
  • Questioning Personal Motives: I started to question, “why are people sharing these things, and in this way? Heck, why am I doing this?” Sometimes, it’s the bandwagon effect. It’s Mother’s Day and everyone is posting a picture of them with their moms, so if I don’t do that, I look like a bad daughter. But, is that true? No, of course not, nor is it the only way I can get across that message to my mom. Also, what about those who have lost their moms or have a strained relationship? Consider how bad social media is for them on this day. It seems the main motivation for posting though, is that I want people to see this. I want them to know that I went somewhere cool or looked really great at this wedding. It sounds so incredibly vain when we put it like that. And I never felt that way, because we’re all doing it. Even if it was harmless or subconscious, that doesn’t change what the motivation was. It’s keeping up with the Joneses and making sure everyone knows about it.

And the Results Are…

I am not trying to be righteous or say I am any better than those who still constantly check Facebook or post Insta stories. Remember, I did that too.

After reflecting on my usage and motivations and what these channels have become, I realized they were not having a healthy impact on my life. While it’s only been a few months since I changed my habits, I have already noticed positive changes. For one, my screen time has decreased.

I also have started to read more — books, newspapers and online articles. More importantly, I have more real conversations with people. When they ask “did you see this on Facebook?” I say no, I didn’t and ask them about it or have them text me a photo directly.

I don’t want to be completely out of the loop, but if you’re a close family member or friend, the idea is that we are already in touch anyhow and I don’t need to rely on a public forum to learn what you’re up to.

We’ve Passed the Tipping Point. Now What?

While I haven’t necessarily quit social media altogether, this is drastic for me. It’s worth noting that I was an early adopter of social media. In middle school, I AIM chatted and updated my profile like it was my job, even if it meant making our family’s phone line busy.

Then in high school, I created shareable, public photo albums online, built a free website featuring profiles and photos of myself and friends, obsessed with MySpace, was all about message boards on DyeStat (a running site that was later bought by ESPN) and used my sister’s college email to check out Facebook before I had access.

And as soon as I had my own college email, you better believe I was creating a profile and adding friends like it was nobody’s business.

The concept of public, digital identities has always intrigued me. But I, and many others, have gone too far. This brings me to today. Posting personal updates is not necessarily a bad thing. There can be good that comes out of it.

I do, however, encourage us all to think critically about the role social media plays in our lives. There is no one best approach for everyone. Decide what works for you individually.

I can’t promise my social media habits won’t change in the future, especially as the platforms continue to evolve.

For now at least, I’ll plan to stick with my limited usage, spend more time in the physical world and suffer from less FOMO. I’ll stop “doing it for the ‘gram” and start doing it for a genuinely good time. If it wasn’t posted on social media, you might not know it happened. But I do, and that’s fine with me.

This was originally published on Medium at: https://medium.com/@jennyradloff/another-millennial-cutting-back-on-not-quitting-social-media-2bc93580827b

Upvote


user
Created by

Jenny Radloff

B2B technology PR professional. Boston-area native. Pug mom. Competitive runner turned recreational jogger.


people
Post

Upvote

Downvote

Comment

Bookmark

Share


Related Articles