Off the Grid, Part Three: Breakthroughs

In the month that’s passed since I left social media, I’ve replaced a lot of time that I used to spend on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat with other activities. Some of these activities are good and wholesome–catching up with family and friends, reading books, cleaning my house–whereas some of them are just as useless as social media–watching TV, re-watching Goon for the eleventh time, and picking all the nail polish off my fingers, just to name a few. So unfortunately, leaving the most popular social media platforms did not automatically make me a better person; turns out I still have to keep working on that.

I do admit that I’m cheating a little; I have a secret Twitter account. I deleted my personal Twitter a while ago, and I don’t tweet at all on this one, I just follow sports accounts so I can stay up-to-date on my beloved Oregon Ducks and Vegas Golden Knights. I’ve debated whether or not this aligns with my recent convictions; since the Knights have gone to the playoffs, I have spent a lot of time enjoying dumb tweets from whiny LA Kings fans. Maybe too much time than is good for my already easily-frayed sports nerves. But, I keep telling myself, this won’t be an issue in the off-season…Right? This is the problem with social media: you give an inch, and they take an ell. Before you know it you’re up in the middle of the night wondering why William Karlsson won’t respond to any of your DM’s. 😦

However, I have also had some small victories! Here are a couple things that happened this month:

  • I went to a conference in Nashville. Normally, after I’m done attending sessions at these things, I go straight to my hotel room, take my pants off, and scroll through my Instagram while eating pizza in bed. I’m too tired from interacting with so many people for so long that I just need some fake and superficial interaction with people who can’t see that I’m not wearing pants. However, that was not an option this time. I got bored in my hotel room, so I decided to put on some pants and go to a networking dinner (which I normally never bother to) and ended up meeting some really nice people. It was a good example of how I’ve started to replace meaningless virtual social interactions with meaningful face-to-face ones.
  • A friend called me recently to discuss a life update that he knew I wouldn’t be aware of because I no longer have Facebook. We ended up having a wonderful, hour-long conversation that made each of our days. I realized that the chance that this conversation would have occurred in the first place would probably be lower if I was on social media. So even though I am missing out on the small things, I discovered that when important things happen to the people I care about, I’ll have opportunities like this to delve deeper and have a more quality interaction.
  • I caught up with a friend recently who had also stopped using her social media accounts months ago. We agreed that although the world may consider us to be strange now, that this is the direction that our generation is moving in. Here’s some proof:

Obviously these are extreme examples and most social media users are not stalkers or drug mules, but I think it’s evidence that the millennial generation has been greatly impacted by the use of social media, and we are beginning to become aware of and remedy the negative effects.

I’m retiring this “Off the Grid” series because I feel I’ve felt what I’ve needed to say about it. I leave for Istanbul one month from tomorrow and will be posting photos from there now that I’m sans Instagram 🙂

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