Mental Health Awareness Month 2022: An End to Social Media Version 2.0

It is that time of year again. This month is all about mental health. This year, if I’m not mistaken, will be my forth year talking about all things mental health. Last year I covered social media in the most rudimentary form. Broken and withered from the Pandemic, I wrote an article in the heat of the moment and since then was wondering how I could improve the topic. When I wrote what was essentially a rough draft for how I wanted to live my life in the modern age, I had no answers for questions I found myself facing. Last year I ended the article with “I have no solution”, which in hindsight, doesn’t make for a great read. There was no call to action, only despair. As promised from last year, I’m trying a new approach with my mental health articles. I’m approaching them from a more upbeat perspective and am focused more on practical articles.

A life without social media

Part of the goal with this article is to start discussing the implications of social media in modern society. When I wrote “Goodbye Social Media” I worked on it at different stages; a few weeks and then a couple months of a complete disconnect. Since then, it’s been a lot of trial and error as I’ve begun to navigate life without Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (not to mention Snapchat and TikTok). Overall, not much seems amiss. A year in and I can safely say I’m OK. The first few months were a lot of uninstalling and reinstalling but past that point I accomplished my goal. If people want to reach me, they can have my phone number. If they want to make sure I’m not dead? They can read my blog.

The health implications

I read a lot. So it’s to my surprise there is so little literature on the impact of social media and there is little debate on the consequences of letting technology dictate our lives. Recently, I have noticed mild interest beyond the occasional sensation piece and that was sparked most recently by Facebook. Yet if I were to do a search, I would still find very little. I am against a Mark Zuckerberg Metaverse and in all reality, Metaverses in general. Technology is a tool, not a way of life.

Am I the only one?

The experiment has ultimately been a musing in isolation. How much agency do we have if we venture past social norms? Am I the weird one for having people contact me via text? I had someone ask me for my Instagram recently and I told them I did a full social media disconnect. All-in-all when I mention this to people the response has been positive and I have yet to have someone respond in the negative.

The Dating Apps

The dating apps are where I struggle the most. These are the apps that get reinstalled and uninstalled on a regular cycle. Over the last year, it has become less frequent as I’ve started to approach dating differently. I don’t care much for dating other than the fact that ultimately I do not want to die alone. I miss early childhood and romance that lasted well into college. When one could simply chat with someone and let a relationship develop organically. Now, I am Nickle and dimed for the opportunity of love. I have tried every dating app from Earth to Alpha Centauri and they have only led to a handful of dates; many conversations that ultimately go nowhere.

My Social Media Indulgence

Over the course of my experiment I briefly discovered reddit. After a couple months, I’ve uninstalled it and hope it stays that way. Reddit isn’t bad compared to some of the other social media out there but it offers no real benefit and has made sleep difficult the last couple of months.

What does it all mean?

Is there any true benefit to a full social media disconnect? As far as tangible data on myself, I have none. Do I overall feel better? Yes. But what does that mean? Is it truly better to not be constantly scrolling through social media and seeing an ad every other post on Facebook? In theory, yes. But does it lead to a more fulfilling life, more productivity, etc.? That is tougher to say. When I removed the need to post, has that somehow damaged my social standing? That should I not post through a tinted lens I simply disappear from this universe? Most likely not, but you have to wonder.

How has it been?

Overall, great! LinkedIn is the most I use and outside of that I’m just living inside my small bubble. I hang out with friends and every aspect of my life has been localized. The next step I suppose is to talk more openly about moving away from social media. I’m beyond curious to know what others are doing. Social Media used to rule over my life but now it simply is. A minimal digital footprint, much like I had when I was growing up. When I was growing up, computer labs were just being introduced to classrooms and the internet rocked. Now it’s a minefield to navigate and I just can’t convince myself society is benefitting from it as a whole. I’d like to talk more about it in the future but for now I’m ok with the conversations I have had. If you are curious about my original journey, I’ll include the link below. It’s a fascinating piece to reread now that I’ve been off social media for quite a while now.


And as typical, this month will ramp up as I explore every aspect of mental health. The two articles planned for the next couple weeks are an exploration into my name and it’s link to my identity and then a delve into my fathers death and it’s impact on me. The articles are helpful to write so that I don’t become closed off and so that I can express myself in healthy manners.

Last years social media article: Goodbye Social Media

Thanks for reading!

Goodbye Social Media: Mental Health Awareness Month 2021

This year, Mental Health Awareness Month is planned. The topics I have picked in advance and am gradually adding to over the course of months. With this more organized approach to my series, it’s the perfect opportunity to gradually document my social media habits as I begin to shed them.

As of now, I’m about a week into uninstalling Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Hinge on my phone. On my Computer, I have unbookmarked the social media sites; if I want to hop on Facebook, I manually have to type the URL. I have always considered myself not to be an avid user of social media. I post a little but not a lot. The other night that changed. As I was scrolling through my dystopian doomsfeed I realized that I was miserable. I derive no joy from Instagram. Most posts are meaningless and add no value to my life whatsoever. I have friends who post a story a minute and others who have lost sight of the silver lining. At best, people are posting about food or doing another selfie. At. Best. In this brief moment I realized that we are living in a dystopia and that all hopes for a utopian information age have all but been lost. Then I looked at Facebook. For every post I saw, I would see a targeted ad. And Twitter? Literal Hell. Negativity is unavoidable and a platform based solely on growth and engagement? Disgusting. Hinge? More endless scrolling in what would ultimately be a relationship death spiral. Match, get bored, match again with the 1% chance I get lucky. The very principle of dating apps diminishes the premise of a relationship itself.

So here I am, a couple weeks in and I feel better. I still log on to Facebook and Twitter but not obsessively. Youtube has become more slightly frustrating as I’m noticing the recommended section is solely designed to influence behavior. If Youtube removed the entire right half of its site, I’d be perfectly ok with that.

LinkedIn

Since 2017, after graduation, Linkedin has become the bane of my existence. Habits Facebook and Instagram instilled carried over to my everyday. I scroll, I like, and am told that it should one day have a payoff. And it doesn’t; Linkedin is a showcase of the superficial, a shrine to those who are lucky. It glorifies an unrealistic percentage of people and even then it frowns upon whenever grit is shown. My recommendations are now for Call Center work and systems that I assume were meant to help, have become my literal Hell. Our Social Media lives have become an episode of Black Mirror.

The Mental Drain

It’s all been exhausting. That is the best word I can use to describe my experience other than soul sucking. Social Media has broken people. We’ve been made to believe that it is the world and since we cannot tangibly see those who have turned away, the lie is easy to swallow. Even with all my other mental health habits well established, Social Media I never saw as posing a threat to my overall well being. I thought I could control it and I was wrong. I thought I was smart enough to keep a fine line between reality and fiction. I was wrong.

A Couple Months Now…

About a month into my social media cleanse, something bizarre began to happen; sites that never emailed me before began to “check in”, to let me know “all that I was missing”. That was Instagram. Facebook? Where it once told me if someone was having a birthday, I have wrought its fury and now receive email notifications mentioning individual actions my friends have taken. In this dystopian hellscape of a world, I know it is only a matter of time before its probing yields success. The emails have gone largely ignored other than mere curiosity and now horror as I watch the information age turn against me as I ignore it data.

Every Other Ad

As my language skills progress, the algorithms become confused. I know this because I get ads in German, Spanish, and now the occasional French. What was initial excitement has now devolved into questions that I’m not really liking the answers to. I’ve been giving information freely to Big Tech all throughout my 20’s thinking overall the benefit outweighs the cost. It took a Pandemic but I finally see the value in privacy albeit a little too late. There’s enough data to be on the cusp of dictating my behavior and that scares me. I worked at a Call Center? Here are some Call Center jobs I think you’d “enjoy”. Here’s a book, here’s what your friends are doing, and the list goes on.

Dating Apps: When Hinge turns into Fringe

If Hell exists on Earth, surely it exists in the form of our ever connected age. Dating, has become a matter of quantity over quality. The sacred has become a mad dash for people to be coupled and as I’ve found, strictly virtual dating is opt for failure. I’ve longed for a meet-cute and a chance to hold on to a moment of love that is more than a fleeting, long lost grab at the wind.

I have no solution

As will no doubt be a theme with this month, I have no easy solution to the problems I now find myself facing. Will I cave and reinstall dating apps? Perhaps. Will Facebook and Instagram manipulate my habits enough to shift what is now strictly a computer only affair to a once-again obsession I never knew I had? Perhaps. Will Twitter continue to be the societal destabilizer it has always been? Most likely. There is no avoiding the information age, that much I am certain. And it may become impossible to live with, if we are not already there. So all I can do now is try to disconnect while I still can and hope others are doing the same, that people are rejecting the notion that every moment must be digitized and that it is ok to exist in your own bubble, even preferred. And for the love of God, have the actions to back it up. Words are cheap, actions are not; in an age of little action and many words, wouldn’t it be nice to plant your feet firmly in the ground?

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