It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of social media. (Not that I ever was, but the past two years have shown me just how toxic it can be. Yikes. Who needs all that toxicity floating around in their brain?) There are many reasons why I don’t “do” social media beyond what I have to for work. And even then, I don’t do “enough” because I simply cannot stand it. But perhaps the biggest reason I don’t care for social media is because it’s not conducive to a peaceful, productive life, and those are things I value and want to protect. Do you want a peaceful life? Do you want to be more productive? Then get off social media.
In my experience living on this planet and knowing many people of all ages, I’ve noticed this: The people who have peaceful, productive, and contented lives don’t have time for social media. They’re too busy living in the real world to take the time to craft perfect posts and track their approval ratings. They’re doing stuff and interacting with others in real life. Social media is a distraction from all the things they’d rather be doing.
Now, this doesn’t mean that their lives are devoid of stress and trauma. Certainly not. Nobody alive gets through life without troubles. But people who eschew social media seem to have better coping mechanisms for those times when troubles arise. They have friends, family, activities, and hobbies to lean on and help them through. They have a life in the real world that can provide a productive distraction from their troubles. What they don’t do is enter an online echo chamber where others simply throw gasoline on whatever fire is raging in their life.
Here’s the thing about social media. It takes time to craft that perfect image/brand that so many people wish to project. Taking the picture or video and then filtering or editing it takes time. Crafting the perfect caption or tweet and the deciding which hashtags are most appropriate takes time. Responding to others takes time. It all takes time.
Those few minutes might not seem like much. “Oh, it’s just a few minutes here and there.” But those minutes add up to hours, and eventually days. And since time is the most precious thing we have, and the thing we’re not guaranteed to have enough of, peaceful and productive people aren’t willing to waste time on this trivial nonsense. It’s bad enough that we lose a lot of time to sleep and basic personal tasks. Or that we have to spend time at jobs we don’t necessarily like, or doing crap things like paying bills or home maintenance. Some people judge spending the remaining hours on social media as a waste of whatever precious time isn’t sucked up by other obligations.
Instead they’d rather be tackling projects that bring value to themselves or others. Volunteering. Pursuing hobbies they love. Nurturing family or pets. Learning new things. Making new friends. Traveling. You know, living life in the real world. All the things you’ll look back on at the end of your life with fond memories. Does anyone look back with fond memories of their perfect Instagram posts? Nope.
A life lived on social media is a hollow life. Even if your’e documenting interesting things, you’re doing so at the expense of living in that interesting moment. Looking into your phone is not the same as experiencing a sunset. Or laughing with your friends over some spontaneous moment. Or being fully present during a moving performance. Nothing can replicate those experiences, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Experiencing them through the lens of your cameral is a shallow, hollow experience compared to the real thing.
You’re also posting at the expense of being able to do even more interesting things. Think about this: Let’s say you’re on vacation in Disney World and you take selfie of you and Mickey. When you step away from the mouse, you’re so excited to post that encounter on your social channels. (Let’s say that’s limited to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.)You have to step aside and edit the picture because you don’t want people to see your perspiring face or the odd person in the background.
Then you have to post it (x3), choosing hashtags and captions as appropriate. In the time it took you do to all of that foolishness, you could have moved on through the park and met another character, eaten some food, or gotten in line for another ride. Or, hell, just interacted with your traveling companions or people-watched from a comfy bench. Repeat this many times over the course of a day and a lot of your precious vacation time is eaten up staring into your phone.
(And if you dare say, “Well, I can do all the posting while moving through the park,” then there is a special place in hell for you because you’re the one not looking where you’re going and pissing everyone else off.)
Meanwhile, the person who ignores all of this takes their picture with Mickey and then moves on to some other activity. They get more out of their vacation and their time with others. They are present and aware of what they are experiencing in the moment, and they are open to more experiences. Later, they won’t lose even more time checking their likes and LOL’ing at the comments from others.
The same math applies to everything. If you spend time on a hobby and then spend time dropping all of your projects on social media, you lose time that you could be using to work on more new projects. Post your family gathering on social? You lose time actually interacting with that family. And so it goes. Everything requires a time tradeoff and people who are content and productive don’t make the social media tradeoff. They just keep living and doing and having a deeper, more authentic experience of life.
(And don’t get me started on the word “authentic” and how often it is tossed around on social media as a badge of honor by people who are so filtered and edited so as to be anything BUT authentic.)
If you want a peaceful and productive life you have to live life in the real world. Peace is related to feeling like you’re making the most of your time in this world, not filling yourself with hollow interactions that don’t lead to anything. If you want a life of meaning, you have to live it. You can’t post and hashtag your way into it. You have to make a difference for yourself and others and that isn’t likely to happen when you’re wasting precious time posting everything on social media.
(Image courtesy of pcjvdwiel)