“Faced with so much ignorance and prejudice currently I can only comment that Facebook is a breeding ground for the worst fruits of our coarse personality.”
― Juliano Alves
Today I received a letter, yes you read that correctly, a letter. A friend I made in Australia via Twitter it must be 5-6 years ago now wrote me a bonafide handwritten letter.
With a few other friends we have been sending postcards for several months now, rediscovering the joy of snail mail. But today I had the pleasure of receiving a letter from her, multiple pages updating me on specific moments in her life, thoughts she had as she wrote, and most importantly why she had written a letter and not an email.
While, I was going through my week of hell with social media and closing all of my accounts. She made a conscious decision to rediscover life before social media and so also closed all of her social media accounts. She has called it her anti-social project – which I love hence the blog title!
So with our colliding decisions to close our social accounts and cut back on emails, neither of us had any clue what the other had done. She has no idea what I’ve been through recently or that I am now essentially “offline” (with the exception of this blog) and I had no idea she had embarked on this project to redefine her life without social media.
I guess to truly grasp how much of an impact this has on both of our lives you have to understand us as people. We both joined Twitter in its infancy having accounts in 2008 when most people hadn’t heard of Twitter. We were the kind of people who tweeted constantly, debated politics, music news and views, and both have pretty high follower numbers for average Joe’s!
Before my bipolar really took it out of me earlier this year I was a freelance social media consultant having migrated from my training as a marketer. You could could say social media is in my blood. My friend is a freelance writer and strategist and offers social media as part of her service so again social media is part of her daily life.
Walking away from social media is not something you would expect either of us to do. Whilst we both did it for different reasons as I read her letter today, I realised that, like her, I’m not missing it. I do miss some of the people I befriended. But the one’s I felt were real friends, like her, I have an offline relationship with so it will not matter.
For me, I deleted my social media accounts because I was trolled, bullied online by a member of my family. Someone who knew things about me, my past, things which have happened to me, my illness, and they used these against me in a carefully planned on and offline attack over about eighteen months which culminated in me trying to take my life.
My friend has done it because she wants to experience real life again. She wants to remember what it’s like to immerse herself in what is happening in the here and now and not what is happening at the end of her phone or PC. The best thing is, it’s working, her outlook on life is already more positive, she’s noticing things about other people she would normally miss, she’s reading more and she’s more engaged with the people in her life, her real life.
Facebook was an easy decision for me, I’ve been quite anti-Facebook for a few years and only kept an account ironically because one of the people involved in the trolling incident kept talking me into it. Ever since news of Facebook’s manipulating their users had come out earlier this year I was fairly sure that even if I went back to work as a Social Media consultant I would refuse to work with Facebook on moral grounds.
Next, I deleted Google Plus and Instagram, again not a huge loss but I did receive emails as soon as I deleted Instagram asking where I had gone. I felt touched by this, but stuck by my decision.
I haven’t been able to bring myself to delete my Twitter account just yet, but I’ve stopped using it and marked it as private to prevent any new followers. There’s a lot of history there, but I think being anti-social is actually a pretty positive step to be taking in my life.