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How to Resist Social Media and Reconnect with IRL Friends

Just because it's social media doesn't mean it's good for you.

By
Stever Robbins,
Episode #491

image of a man resisting the urge to use social media on his phone

Loving social media and being addicted to social media are not the same thing at all. It's time to write a break up letter.

"Dear Glorious social media,

It was good, but now, it’s over. You are my #1 time drain. You pull me away from high-quality, in-person friendships with the glowing promise of pixelated friends consumed at my leisure, where awkwardness vanishes at the click of an Unfollow button. You keep me stressed and riled up about topics that are hot and emotional, while hiding topics that are more boring, but are much more important. You’ve reduced my attention span to 30 seconds and I can’t even read two consecutive paragraphs any more. And let’s be honest, you give me propaganda, falsehoods, and sensationalism. If I went back to spending my free time reading on my own, or taking a class, I’d be much smarter. 

It’s easy to write this letter, but I can’t quite follow through. Social media, I wish I knew how to quit you."

There’s a lot wrong with social media. But for many of us, it feels great. Feels great doesn’t mean it is great. Sugar feels great. Heroin, from what I’ve been told, feels great. Refined carbs? Great! That’s the thing about addiction—it makes your brain feel great, even when it’s actually bad for you.

Social Media Doesn’t Bring You Closer

Bernice, the owner of Green Growing Things plant stores, says her social media interactions with friends brought them closer and closer. So we took the social media challenge: go to your favorite social media platform and read one of the conversations out loud. What felt like a 10-minute conversation was actually about 30 seconds of actual spoken communication, minus any of the body language or voice tone. 

Bernice was horrified. “It felt so, so… real!” she cried. Yes, Bernice, it did. Those manipulative, helpful folks in Silicon Valley make us think we’re having high-quality interaction when we aren’t. It gives us all the feelz, but with little actual substance. And it gives them a physically addicted customer base with altered brain chemistry.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Yes, social media is designed to turn your brain into mush and make you into an obedient zombie. (And let’s be clear: if you’re going to be a zombie, my zombie army feasts on Oreo ice cream cake, and Mark Zuckerberg’s zombie army feasts on advertising and Russian propaganda, so mine’s way better.) But you can thwart the evil designs of Silicon Valley and use social media to deepen your in-person relationships.

Use a Social Media To-Do List

In the episode on how to divorce your computer, we created a “computer to-do list.” Instead of being your computer’s slave, you collect your computer tasks on a special to-do list and only do them when you’re at your computer.

To stymie social media’s evil plans, grab a piece of paper and title it not “Social Media To-Do List,” but “Social Life To-Do List.” We’re going to use this list to protect our precious Purity of Essence from the gaping maws of the psychopathic social media companies. (If you work for one of those companies, it’s not too late! Come back to us! We have Oreo ice cream cake.) Social media triggers are designed to get you to “engage.” You will. Only now, you’ll engage with your Social Life To-Do List instead.

Let Likes Trigger To-Dos

When you see something on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or anywhere that you want to “Like,” don’t. Instead, jot the person and a reminder about the topic on your Social Life To-Do List. “Xris, status about the importance of marshmallow peeps at Easter in a liberal Catholic congregation.” “Europa, gorgeous photograph of an entire battalion of her minions dressed in cheerful pastel colors.” And so on. 

Do not however write comments or click Like buttons. Just make a list. 

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