posted at 9:59 am
on Mar. 11, 2014
I don’t know why I did it.
But on October 15, 2013, I simply said “Goodnight.” to Twitter and Facebook, and stopped.
Well. That’s not exactly true.
It was unplanned, unthoughtful, and it felt strange even to myself. Overnight, I became an instalurker on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Google Plus (no big sacrifice, that), LinkedIn, Flickr, Path, Tumblr, YouTube ... and even the smaller and smaller ones that you’ve never even heard of but that I dabbled on, like Vine, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Fork, App.net, imo, 500px, spraffl, viddy, VSCOcam, flava… nowhere.**
I had been posting multiple times a day, liking all the things, commenting on lots of posts of those I followed, being a “voice in the conversation” while simultaneously painting a full picture of my daily life with checkins and photos of my time, space and focus… and then blankness, in an instant.
It wasn’t a fast, though. I kept consuming, reading shared links and conversations and comments and admiring people’s lovely vacation photos (Hi, Lee LeFever). I’d contact people directly when I had something to share, like a tip or kudos—I didn’t pretend I wasn’t up to date via social media.
Besides, for my job, I needed to still use social media, and be up-to-date on Internet trends and memes, and I needed to have accounts to build and test Web services for my clients..
Who noticed my exit? Hard to know for sure. But who said something to me about it? For all intents and purposes, no one.
I’m not going to enumerate my followers and friends, but I have a bushel. So the lack of feedback was something that surprised me. I expected, in the days following my decision, to have to justify it, explain it, to quickly try to come up with a viable outside-voice reason. Nope, didn’t have to.
To be fair, after just a few days, a single treasured Vancouver friend contacted me to make sure I was okay and find out why I’d stopped posting. About a month later, another friend who lives far away messaged me to remark that she’d noticed I wasn’t posting “much” any more. And two months later, in December, another friend, while we were having tea, said she’d seen that I’d stopped posting, and had wondered why. I find it interesting that all three were women.
In late January, three months after I quit, I started asking people if they’d noticed and if so, why they hadn’t said anything. Every person I asked said they’d noticed, but figured it wasn’t any of their business to know why I’d stopped. And my mom said she’d really missed my blog posts and facebook updates. Awww.
Overall, in conversations where I brought it up, most people didn’t seem to want to know why. Was it a lack of desire to open an emotional can of worms, or perhaps a worry that they might hear me say their own social media output was excessive? Maybe they were afraid I’d tout the benefits of “clean” living à la born-again-non-smoker-vegan (For 99% of the people I follow, they aren’t excessive, and I like all they have to say—that’s why I follow them.)
For me, there were just a few small real-world consequences. Responding to event invitations got slightly trickier, and I had to copy and paste events into my calendar BY HAND, GADZOOKS. My Klout score dropped 11 points at a metronomical rate, which means it’s now 20% less valuable to me.
My phone battery lasted a little longer (until I upgraded to the iPhone 5S), perhaps because it wasn’t buzzing and lighting up with notifications as often. My overall phone use, though, was about the same—I read books on it a little more than I used to, and my texts and such are about the same, anecdotally.
One other interesting effect. It seems—though this is completely non-scientific—that some of the people I used to interact with most often, have also decreased their overall posting since I stopped commenting and liking and retweeting them. Could I simply be imagining my own attitude shift mirrored in their randomly fluctuating behaviour? Or do we all fluff up each other’s social activity, and when prolific people like I was slow down, does their ripple effect cause an overall drop-off in social activity? Time will tell.
Oh, one more thing I noticed: the number of photos I take went down. I no longer have nearly as good a record of what fancy things I’ve eaten, which makes me sad—though maybe it makes others happier.
So why am I blogging about it now?
Well, I was going to post at 3 months, then at 100 days, then at 120 days, and finally I decided if I was going to mention something, I might as well just do it. 147 is “300” in base 7, and that sequel was just released, so… No, basically, I just have insomnia tonight and this has been on my to do brain list for too long.
I don’t think I’ll start posting again anything like I used to. But I have, with this post, ended my stay in Blanksville, capital of Nowhereland. So…
* * *
* And appropriately enough, I suppose, I don’t currently feel like sharing those half-formed self theorizations on social media or my blog.
** My two exceptions were: I still posted runs on the Nike app, but I didn’t share them. And I still favorited Tweets I liked, on the theory that no one ever looks at someone else’s favorited tweets, and so that I could look up those tweets later given that Twitter had, at the time, no other easy organizational means to go back to curated Tweets.***
*** Someone read this and said she had noticed that I still was “Like"ing things on Facebook. Partially true: I stopped liking anything except pages that I had to “Like” for my job in order to administrate them or track them. And I did “Like” a few Pages that friends specifically asked me to Like (their new business, for example). But I didn’t think that would show up on my timeline (curse you, Facebook privacy settings!), and I didn’t “Like” anyone’s posts or photos, as far as I remember.****
**** Ok, full disclosure: I did send an awful lot of Facebook Candy Crush lives and bonuses and such. But those are person to person, more like chain letter emails, and hey, I’m only flesh and blood, not some unfeeling robot. That candy ain’t going to crush itself.
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