How Do You Stay Connected?

It’s been about 5 months now since I deleted Facebook and other social media accounts.

I tried MeWe for a while, but discovered I didn’t actually want or need that either, so that recently got deleted too.

Do I feel more disconnected now? Do I regret getting off social media?

In a word: Nope!

Not. At. All.

Full disclosure, maybe twice in the past 5 months, I “missed” it and thought about going back on. I even tried rationalizing with myself. “Maybe I’ll just use it for business, or only to create a fan page that only posts positive inspirational stuff — you know, be a light in the darkness, kind of thing?”

Maybe one day I’ll do something like that. But honestly, I found getting off social media much easier and personally rewarding than I expected.

Make no mistake. Social media is a digital drug. Corporations have invested a lot of money to make their platforms as addictive, pervasive, and habit-forming as possible. I don’t know about you, but for me, I don’t like being addicted to anything.

Addiction means I’ve given some of my power over to someone or something else. This outside source (be it a person, literal drug, or app) has influence and control over part of my life. I don’t like that. I’ve lived with a controlling person. It never ends well for the person being controlled. So maybe I’m a little more hyper-sensitive to this than others. To me, being controlled equals pain, suffering, and great personal loss. Being used and abused for someone else’s benefit and gain. I hate it. I fought hard, and sacrificed so much personally, to earn the freedom and autonomy I have in my life now.

So I don’t take addiction or external controlling influences lightly.

And when I realized I had become addicted to social media, that was it. That was the moment I knew I needed to take back control over my own life.

At first, I tried compromising. I scaled back. Used social media less.

But the truth was, I was still addicted. Still checking often. And over time, it became more and more frequent again. I caught myself drifting back deeper into the addiction.

I also realized that this particular addiction was bad for my mental health, adding extra stress and anxiety to my life, and somehow making me feel less connected to others even though, officially, it was supposed to make me be more connected.

So I let it go. Completely.

And I don’t regret it. Not one bit.

Literally, within the first couple weeks of getting off social media, my mental health started to improve.

I felt less stress. More relief. Less anxiety. More peace in my life.

And then something unexpected happened.

I noticed I suddenly had way more free time than I was used to.

Time that used to be spent checking, posting, and interacting with social media.

What should I do with this free time?

Well… at first, I rested. Got in a power nap, catching up on lost sleep. I went outside, and started walking around my neighborhood and out in nature more. I began reading more books. Watching more documentaries. I also started using YouTube more (which, perhaps is maybe a type of social media, but it feels more like a massive TV channel with an infinite variety of things to watch — some good, some bad, some boring, some pointless, some really, really, amazingly beneficial and helpful).

I watched a few sketch comedies and other things that made me laugh.

But I noticed, without ever consciously intending to, that I started watching a lot of videos on psychology, relationships, personal growth, emotional healing, business and investing, and other topics that, you know, actually helped me become a better person and enjoy my life more too.

I also subscribed to CuriosityStream, which is like Netflix, but they only have documentaries and educational videos.

And yes, I still kept Hulu, because we need regular good old entertainment too. 😉

Anyway, when I had told all my “friends” on social media that I was planning to delete my account, a few people asked, “but how will you stay connected?”

It’s been 5 months now. I can answer that question with full confidence and clarity of heart.

I feel better connected now, without social media.

Prior to leaving social media, I had begun to notice that all my “real” friends were communicating with me via social media, but also by calling me over the phone, sending text messages, and hanging out in person. My real friends used social media as an additional way to communicate, but not the only way.

In fact, since leaving social media, we call and text each other more. And when we do, it’s not a stupid little thumbs-up “like” that’s supposed to count as “connection” — we have actual conversations, we actually connect and interact, we actually grow closer and strengthen our emotional bonds.

So do I miss social media?

Nope. Nada. Not one bit.

I’ve discovered who my real friends are — and now we’re growing even closer, rather than just “keeping updated.”

Look, if social media’s not an addiction for you, or it’s a harmless one and you don’t mind being addicted to it, and the positives outweigh the negatives, that’s fine. I’m not saying you have to, or even should, cut back or delete social media.

I’m just saying, for me, it was the right choice. And if you’re considering it, you’re not alone. More and more people are doing it. And I’m so glad I did too.

* * *

Here’s a video I watched this morning, that inspired this post. This guy has been off social media for 5 years now, and he shares a few different benefits of deleting social media. I’ve already mentioned some of them above (like improved mental health and re-discovering true connection).

Btw, if you’re like me and think “ads don’t affect me,” well the truth is, companies spend billions on advertising because it does work. Maybe you or I are less susceptible than others, but then again, maybe we’re influenced without even realizing it. But that’s a whole other blog post. 😉

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