I am writing to tell all my “friends” that I am suspending my social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn). Suspension is not deletion. I will revisit this decision in the future.
There is some good. Social media has enabled me to keep up with relatives, friends, colleagues, and even acquaintances. I have reconnected with people from my past. I get to “see” milestones in the lives of people I care about. Social media has been a source information, education, and occasionally enlightenment. There are posts that have made me laugh, along with the posts that have made me angry. I’m not immune to the whimsical photos of cats being cats and dogs being dogs. I’ve posted more than a few of them myself. But for all that is good, there is far more that is bad. Social media has broken society. It has broken me.
The utopia promised by the extreme libertarian culture of Silicon Valley, especially through social media, has proven to be far less than advertised. It makes sick people sicker, lonely people lonelier, and addicts more addicted. It preys on the uneducated, the gullible, the willfully ignorant, the mentally ill, and the vulnerable in every category. It promises “friends” without friendship, debate without facts, and love without physical contact. It encourages anger over reason, sensationalism over reasoned discourse, extremism over moderation, and self-righteousness over reflection. It is also incredibly time-consuming and intrusive. How many of you watch a program without constantly refreshing your apps while you do so?
The modus operandi of social media is addiction. Those little numbers on the notification icons. The pop-up notifications on your devices, always encouraging you to refresh the app, keeping you incarcerated in whatever company’s ecosystem you are in (Apple, or Google, or Microsoft, or Amazon). For the lonely and mentally ill, such as me, it is a recreational drug that’s turned into a bad trip.
I recognize the havoc wrought by Covid-19. But pre-pandemic, when was the last time you called a relative, or visited a friend? Why bother, you’re keeping up with them on Facebook and Facebook rewards you with little numbers on a little icon, selling your personal data, targeting you with ads you don’t want, trying to increase the amount of “friends” you have by constantly pestering you with “people you may know”.
So, I’m suspending my accounts. I’d love to close them altogether, but the temptations of social media maybe too much to resist. The only exception will be my web page. I’ll keep posting on this, at least for the time being.