Updated: Dec 24, 2020
December 3, 2020
I took a break from social media at the end of September. 2020 has been a lot, and social media (for me) has always been a dichotomous obligation. On one hand, you want to stay in touch with friends and inform those that care about your own happenings- on the other it’s a gateway for a schizophrenic sea of emotional triumphs and sorrows. (Digital Millennial Activist -in my performance piece Tea Time alluded to this endless abyss of emotions ranging from one post victoriously reading “I got married” to the next status update indicating a passing of a loved one. It's just too much to digest in 0.2 seconds.) And while I’ve tried to be a positive light in the sea of "digital post-it notes", I often found myself being an anchor more than a sail this past year.
So, following the ruling of the Grand Jury in regards to the murder of Breonna Taylor, I deleted all my social media accounts. (I actually still can’t get back into Facebook because of some authentication variation thing- c'est la vie.)
I was frustrated, I was empty and I was tired of black women being overlooked, denied justice and unheard by a society that thrives off of our existence.
My exit from social wasn’t a protest per se- nor was it a muzzle for my rage... it was a deviation from a compulsive habit.
“I’m not okay”
“I’m indifferent “
“I’m so focused”
“I’m….. I don’t know”
Every post projected some emotion that I was too numb to actually articulate. I felt like I was saying so much in one breath and then nothing at all in another. It had become a bit of a chore.
So I unplugged.
As I return, I feel a bit restored and rejuvenated. I feel more aware both on and offline.But also, I am earnest to share my experience on how we communicate without social media. These are just observation during my escape from the matrix; and I strongly suggest a hiatus to anyone who may feel overwhelmed, drained or over stimulated.
Also, the need for me to point out that literally 2 people texted to ask if I was okay (Thanks Cousin Kiaya and Cousin Lisa) is just as important to mention that I always felt the urge to express that I had been away to anyone expecting me to follow the many narratives of social media. As I laugh cry, I’ll also say that I did get to connect with more people in-person (IN A SOCIAL DISTANCE SAFE WAY-trollers)or directly which was far more rewarding than liking pictures and frivolous fire emojis.
But don’t fret, those fire emojis are coming back with a few spaceships. LOL. And without further ado, here are my 6 observations after 60 Days Off Social!
The News depends on social media for quote worthy “receipts”. It’s almost impossible to read a full story from an American news without a reference to a social media website. These references often include screen shot excerpts from Twitter or Instagram and sometimes you have to click on the post to read the full message. Needless to say I stuck to the Guardian for most of my hiatus.
Friends will volunteer sending you screenshots, videos and memes rather you are logged in or not. FOMO is not even a concern when it comes to unplugging. Friends and family will be sure to keep you in the loop on the latest Gif, viral video challenge or hot topic while you’re away. Social Media will find a way to “clip creep” itself right into your phone, so beware.
What’s your IG is the new “what’s your phone number” If you’re not on Instagram or some other social media, it’s very rare that phone numbers are exchanged anymore- (And forget about Facebook.) I would say that LinkedIn was a distant third near Snapchat. But the moment I met someone that wanted to further connect and I had to explain that I didn’t have these apps on my phone it was followed by a really awkward pause of bewilderment and dare I say disappointment. I didn’t realize how often in-person conversation often lead to wanting to further communicate but never via phone or in person. It was very hard to connect past that if you’re only on the mobile.
Social Media isn’t social at all, it’s actually is for data harvesting to sell you ads. But you know this already If you haven’t watched Social Dilemma yet, take a pause here and do so. no seriously. I’m not kidding. Why are you still here? Okay fine, but I asked you thrice. Since unplugging, I have had virtually no ads “pop up” into my phone. It was like I was clear and free to a actually make my own decisions without being distracted. (I must add that I also deleted “Google” from my phone and added “Qwant” instead. It’s great! It’s like driving down a highway with no billboards so you can enjoy the scenery.)
People who have messaged me on social media will text me for reference to said social media even if they knew I was on hiatus. The most interesting observation were the hyper promoter people that have my number and still demand social media things. “Hey can you go like this post real quick.” “Can you share this thing for me.” My favorite was sending an entire post via text message. They would also text to see if I saw or had a reaction for something sent. I would often wonder why I couldn’t just give my reaction in the text but it was always preferred in the app hub. I meant to remember those, but I guess it’s probably too late anyway. lol.
Some people on social media feel attacked that you are not on social media with them. Often times I felt like these conversations were very similar to the conversations that I would have when I told friends that I didn’t eat pork. The immediate response was something along the lines of “I love bacon” or “Imma always eat pork,” or (my favorite) “You eat shrimp, don’t you?” (This of course is a reference to both animals being bottom feeders therefore having “no differences between the two”). To these folks I would often mention that I don’t eat squash either- but they never defended squash as heavily as pork- go figure. LOL. As well with social media, I did get a lot of loving support but from some there was concern- but you’re an artist? how do you communicate? and then of course, there were the jokes… Once a week, my sister would proudly announce “I’m never coming off social media!” The hilarity existed in not only the announcement but also the setting in which she would teasingly remind me…after breakfast, while watching a movie, sunrise ..lol, every action was an invite and reminder for her proclamation.
On my last day I actually missed social media, but understood that the only way to return in a healthy way was to set boundaries and treat it like a job and not leisure. So, I have 3 days a week between 8 hours in each day to be on certain platforms. The irony is while on social media hiatus, I actually managed to get myself onto yet social media platform…Clubhouse. But it's actually really good, I enjoy the interactive podcast feel coupled with being "in the room" with well-seasoned veterans and experts eager to share insight. (Shout out to my buddy Ced and my girl Nicole for putting me on.)You should check it out if you get a moment. It’s invite only, but sign up anyway. You never know :)
BONUS 2: I was looking for a GIF for "unplugged" and my buddy KISSEY popped up so enjoy the <3 moves <3