Tom Lohr is a navy veteran, world traveler, adventurer, baseball fan and hot dog aficionado. He loves dogs and hates political correctness.
When Social Media Becomes Unsocial
Love it or hate it, social media is a double-edged sword in our lives. On the one hand, it can keep you informed of important family events, keep you up to date on your hobby group's activities, reunite old friends and lovers and connect you to some new and interesting people. On the other hand, it is also a cesspool of hatred and vitriol.
Most people who are connected to the internet will give at least one or two social media platforms a try. Some end up loving it for its usefulness and entertainment, while it causes others to give up hope on humanity. I identify with the latter half.
I used to be connected to the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I also gave a few others a short try, platforms like Snapchat, TikTok, and Kik. Today, I only have an Instagram account that sees little action (and will probably get deleted soon) and Yelp, to which I frequently contribute. I stuck to Yelp because I also use it when deciding which services to use or restaurant to eat at. Plus, it is heavily monitored to keep the riff-raff out.
I gave up Facebook over three years ago and do not miss it. Twitter followed shortly. Facebook got axed for the crazy discourse and hatred it fosters, and Twitter because it is heavily censored (and not in a good way). I still have a YouTube account that I do not use, but I basically use YouTube to watch cat videos. No harm, no foul.
Are you thinking about quitting social media? It can be a decision to wrestle with. In the 21st century, having no social media is like cutting yourself off from the outside world. That sucks, unless you decide, like I did, that the outside world was not bringing any joy into your life. If you are struggling with making the decision on pulling the social media plug, here are ten reasons why you should.
1. The Minutia of People's Lives
While Facebook was great for keeping me up to date on significant events of my friends and family, like births, deaths, divorces, engagements weddings, reunions, picnics, etc. I also had a cadre of friends who wanted everyone to know EVERYTHING they were doing. Frankly, I didn't care that they were preparing roast beef for dinner (with boiled redskin potatoes, coleslaw, and dinner rolls), or that they needed to go to the store because they were out of Captain Crunch and toilet paper. I honestly don't know how those people got anything done since they were always posting about what they needed to do or were doing.
2. Family Quarrels
Every family has weirdness and spats between relatives, but social media can really amplify it. If you rag on Aunt Becky because she gave your kid a crappy birthday gift, Aunt Becky will read about it because both of you are connected to a lot of the same people. Guess who is going to have an attitude the next time you see her? And it might turn into an internet flaming war that torches family ties for a very long time. Social media was never a good place to air grievances about family members, and many folks learned the hard way that what you post on the internet is forever.
3. Disappointment in Friends
I know/knew a lot of smart and talented people. People that were/are scientists, artists, tradesmen, etc. I thought the world of many of them—until I read some of their posts. It is a great disappointment when you find out that some of your closest friends that you admire are closet racists, political bigots, or just mean and intolerant. Every time I read my social media feed, my list of electronically connected friends dwindled.
4. Malicious Use
Ever know someone that is connected to you and a mutual friend? They, knowing both of you would read their posts, casually communicates how they saw your mutual friend's significant other hanging on someone else at the local bar. Or post pictures of the car of someone they know parked in front of a strip joint. It takes some sick idiots to revel in being the bearer of salacious and possibly damning information. But they are not in short supply. Somehow, Facebook turned into some sort of tool of revenge for these people.
Ever get an e-mail or post from one of your contacts stating they are stranded somewhere and need you to wire them money? Or get your identity stolen? Or buy something that never existed? Those and many others are scams that abound on the internet, and social media helps them thrive.
6. Divisive Rhetoric
Which side of the tearing down of Confederate statues do you fall on? You know what? I don't care. It's your personal opinion and frankly, I don't care to hear it. But others want everyone they know and hear it, and it becomes a post on social media. Then, others they are connected with vehemently disagree, and it becomes a flaming contest. Too many folks advertising their opinion of sensitive issues, and many are just looking for a keyboard fight. My personal favorite: keyboard woke social justice warriors.
Speaking of advertising, I know that social media entities have to pay for all of those servers somehow, but for God's sake. While I still use and like YouTube, it used to have few or no ads. Now it is almost as bad as watching broadcast television. And some of the ads are downright offensive.
For some reason, I used to get these ads touting the New York Times as a great newspaper and trying to convince me to subscribe. Unfortunately for them, exactly seven people on the planet consider the NYT a credible news source. Their bias was unveiled years ago. Now they are in my face when trying to scroll through social media? No thanks. They do have a mean crossword puzzle, though.
Even fans of social media complain about how much time they waste using it. They are sort of like smokers. Every smoker wants to quit, but most just can't bring themselves to give up an addictive habit. Social media is the same; only without the lung cancer. On average, a person uses social media for 2 hours and 24 minutes per day. PER DAY. You could mow your lawn in less time. Or better yet mow my lawn. Even more alarming is that this is an increase of 62% from 2012. It's a habit that's getting worse.
9. Religious and Political Posts
Did you know that God exists? Jesus too. And Allah, and Buddha, and a bazillion other religious offshoots. That fact is, those religions have existed for CENTURIES. Your post about how great your deity is will convince NO ONE to covert or accept Jesus Christ into their lives. Treat religion like your sex life. Keep it personal, private, and quiet. I get it, you love your religion. Problem is, it annoys EVERYONE else.
The same goes for political posts. Talk about being disappointed in your friends. I used to shake my head at the “Thank you President (fill in the blank) for,” followed by a litany of things they think are great for the nation. Like low gas prices and high stock market numbers. Unfortunately, they are not politically astute enough to realize the president of the United States has little to do with the performance of either. Plus, nearly everything they list can also be seen as a negative or be refuted with facts. But hey, they want you to know how they feel regardless of how stupid it makes them look.
10. Feel-Good Posts
Hey, how many likes can we get for this 100-year-old veteran? Usually, that person doesn't even exist. This poor child has cancer, can I get her 10,000 likes? Sadly, likes do not equate to cures or medication. But they do take up some of your social media feed, letting you know that an acquaintance of yours is truly sensitive and sympathetic; even if their post is bogus and is the same one that made the rounds six years ago. But they DID something about that sorrowful situation. They posted it on their social media feed. That's bound to make a difference. Can I get an amen?
You Can Do It
These are only ten good reasons. Don't even get me started about the fake news and information that abounds. Deciding to part with social media can be tough. It is addictive and gives you something to do when you are bored. It also gives you something to do when you should be doing something else—like your job.
I have yet to meet a smoker that regrets giving up tobacco. The same goes for social media. If you can't do it all cold turkey, but want to quit, do it in steps. Delete your account on the social media platform you use the least. Three months later, delete the next one. Continue until you are an unknown entity on the inter-web.
When someone gives up cigarettes, it takes a while but their lungs clear up and they breathe easier and feel better. The same will happen to you if you cleanse your life of most of the tripe that passes for “enriching” social media. Then, think about what you will do with all of that extra free time. If you can't think of anything, my lawn always needs to be mowed or my driveway shoveled. Need my address?
How About You?
Riffat Junaid from Pakistan on July 03, 2020:
You are right social media is making distance between lovers and if we can not leave it at least we should use in moderation.
Liz Westwood from UK on May 13, 2020:
You make some very good points. Many of them are why I never signed up in the first place. Although I sometimrs hear 'Didn't you know that? It was on facebook. Oh, of course you don't do that do you'.
Farrah Young from Lagos, Nigeria on May 12, 2020:
You've listed some good points; social media can be a pain, especially because of those who use it to document every happenings in their lives.
However, there is one reason why some people might find it hard to leave these platforms completely and that's the fact they use these platforms as advertising channels to reach the teaming number of potential clients found on them. I fall into this group.
Other than this reason, I see very little reason to stick with and use these platforms.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on May 12, 2020:
Interesting reading. Points to ponder.