I Don't Want to Be On Social Media Anymore.

You bet your ass this selfie has a filter on it.

You bet your ass this selfie has a filter on it.

I don’t want to be on social media anymore.


I don’t want to feel my dopamine spike when I have more than 20 notifications.

I don’t want to feel the let-down when that number is smaller than I’m expecting.

I don’t want to lose myself to The Scroll.

I don’t want to be on social media anymore.


I don’t want to package my vulnerability for maximum engagement.

I don’t want to watch my colleagues doing the same.

I don’t want to be on social media anymore.


I don’t want to have a conversation in the comments.

I can’t remember the last time I had a good conversation in the comments. I know it’s happened. It used to happen a lot, for me.

I cannot think of a single way in which having a conversation in the comments is superior to literally any other way of having a conversation.

No one is at their best in the comments section. The comments section is the place for our most dogmatic, black-and-white thinking. The comments section is where people who would love each other in real life rip each other’s throats out over the smallest area of disagreement. The comments section is where nuance and empathy go to die.

I do not believe that anyone is the same way in person that they are in a comments section.

I don’t want to be on social media anymore.


I don’t want to run into someone and have them think I’m doing better than I am because of social media.

I don’t want to run into someone and have them think I’m doing worse than I am because of social media.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful or pop the bubble of someone else’s constructed story about my awesome life, and I don’t want to explain that just because I was honest on the internet about something unpleasant doesn’t mean I’m in a bad place, I’m fine, really, please stop looking at me that way.

I don’t want to keep convincing my friends and clients that their notion of other people somehow having life more figured out than them are based on literally nothing.

I don’t want to be on social media anymore.


Looking at the internet didn’t always give me anxiety.

I used to be devout.

Look at these friends I made on the internet, I said.

Look at these nuanced conversations we are having, I said.

Four, five, six hours a day on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe more.


What if I had spent that time doing literally anything else?

If I had spent even half that time writing things other than comments, I would have finished four books by now. Minimum.

I could have learned to play the guitar. Learned ASL. Gotten fluent in Spanish.

Time is a non-renewable resource.


I used to scoff at the haters.

I used to think that poo-pooing social media was easy, obvious, gauche, narrow-minded.

Maybe if you learned to use it correctly, I’d think when someone said they didn’t see the value in it.

I no longer think that.


The tone of the internet was different, eight-nine-ten years ago.

(Were there less Nazis on Twitter? Or were they just less empowered?)

Maybe we were more optimistic, less angry.

Maybe Obama in office meant we felt we could afford to talk about something other than the brokenness of the world.


But I don’t see the conversations online doing anything to heal the brokenness of the world.

I just see a lot of rage-masturbation.


What if we hadn’t had Facebook the day after the 2016 election?

Instead of posting rage missives, would we have gone to each other’s apartments to comfort each other?

Or gone to the streets?

Would we have started protesting immediately?


I don’t want to be on social media anymore.

The absolute only assets that social media has, as far as I can see, are speed and reach.

#MeToo would have taken too long offline.

And then there’s all the not-accessible-in-person conversation, the conversations that folks literally can’t have in their physical community.


I don’t think most of us are using it for that. Are we?


I’m not even talking about selfies and pictures of food.

I love selfies and pictures of food.

I am so glad that you feel cute today.

I am so glad that you’re excited for your meal.

Please take all the Goddamn pictures in the world of your face and your dinner.

God, if only the Internet could be so innocent as to just be selfies and pictures of food.


But it seems like mostly,

we use social media to feel like good people,

and the way we use social media to feel like good people is to talk about the badness of the bad people,

(and I am using “we” very deliberately because I do it too, very much,)

and even if we don’t label them “bad people,” we certainly need to talk about what they’re doing wrong,

we need to talk about what everyone is doing wrong, all the time,

and mostly I don’t see what that gets us

except alienation

and anxiety

and shame

because on some level, we fear that we are the ones doing things wrong

but if we keep talking about what other people are doing wrong

we won’t have to think about that.


(Am I adding to the problem by saying this? Am I virtue signaling? Even though I’m saying I do it too?)


A woman of some prominence says something busted.

Actually, she says a number of busted things over a number of years.

A second woman calls this behavior out. Not only the first women’s behavior, but the behavior of all women like her, and all the busted things they say.

Her calling this out brings her to a position of some prominence.

A third woman, who has also risen to prominence by naming busted behavior, calls the second woman out. It’s not entirely clear for what. But the second woman is Definitely Not An Ally, this third woman says.

A fourth woman, who has also risen to prominence by naming busted behavior, calls out the third woman for being abusive.

Hordes of angry women descend upon the fourth woman.

This is a true story. Multiple characters in this story are harassed online, sometimes to the point of leaving social media or closing their businesses.


All these women are “feminists.”


I dunno. Maybe all of them were right about each other?


I’m just so tired.

I’m just so tired.

I am just so God damn tired.


Or

we flex for the ‘gram

we document our “best lives”

we deliberately leave out the gritty bits

we curate

we smooth rough edges

and when we dare to be vulnerable, we do so in a very very careful way

“this is what I learned from this shitty thing happening” - a moral for the story

or we wait until we’re on the other side of the pain and post about our inspirational journey

there are no messy middles


And if we did post about our messy middles, what then?

Would that be better?

Are our messy middles any better off for being on Instagram?

Why should we have to fucking document our sticky ugly emotional growth processes? What would that gain us?

Maybe then other people would know that their own messy middles weren’t so weird, sure.

Maybe they’d share their own stories. Maybe there’d be solidarity.

Maybe it would be a salve to the sickness of compulsive life-curation.


But also…surely there’d be someone offering unsolicited advice,

(even when your post specifically says “no advice please,”)

someone telling you that you’re doing your messy middle wrong,

someone pointing out the good things you have in your life and why you’re incorrect for having a bad day,

someone shitting on the messy middle that you were brave enough to share.

Maybe some things aren’t meant to be mass-distributed.


I don’t want to be on social media.


And…


I am addicted to social media.


I am over six weeks into a strict social media diet.

My mind is so much clearer, my anxiety so much lower, and yet…my hands are itchy.

Maybe I’ll just check my notifications real quick.


I don’t want to be on social media.


And…


I get most of my clients from social media.

And coaching is my favorite way to make a living that I’ve found yet.


I don’t want to be on social media.


I don’t think I can quit social media.


I am going to distribute this essay on social media.

I am fully aware of the irony and hypocrisy of that.


I do not want to read the comments.

I will, though.


I can enumerate a list - a pretty sizable list - of all the awesome things I wouldn’t have in my life if not for social media.

But all these awesome things are awesome precisely because of what happens off of social media. Offline conversations, offline jobs, offline friends.

Social media is like that sleazy ex-boss you keep in touch with because he’s good for an introduction.

It’s a connector that we treat like the end in itself.


I’m angry that my addiction has been specifically cultivated by tech companies.

I’m angry that I don’t feel like I can quit cold turkey.

I’m angry that I miss out on my friends’ lives when I go offline for my mental health.


I have no solution, no salve to offer.

I am just adding to the noise.

I am just being a Negative Nancy.







But I don’t want to be on social media anymore.