Primož Hadalin / Essays

I quit social media and now I want a cigarette

Sep 24, 2019

Social media is like smoking. It takes a while to get addicted. You do it because everyone is doing it. It gives you a dopamine kick and pretty soon you develop a habit. Once you quit, you're relieved, but you also miss it when you're sitting on a toilet.

Nine months ago I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts. The online suicide had to do with the bad ratio between time spent scrolling and finding something worth the attention. For every “good” post I had to consume thirty “bad” ones. 30/1 is just not that good of a ratio.

I also have a problem with populated to-do lists. If there's a box of cookies next to the computer, I'll continue working once the box is empty. Same thing with unread notifications. I absolutely cannot understand people who have 153 unread notifications. They're probably the same people who sleep with a blanket turned the other way around — zipper facing the head.

On top of that, there's an abundance of articles urging people to quit social media, promising it will improve their lives, and thus I proceeded with the e-harakiri.

Years of giving in to instant gratification showed its face right away. I continued to routinely grab the phone whenever I passed it by, but since there were no notifications to clear, I checked my email so much more often.

The urge eventually faded away without any significant improvement on the mental wellbeing front. It's not that I was in a bad place mentally, but any bump in that department doesn't hurt. Teenagers might be more susceptible though.

I upgraded my quest to tranquility by removing work email accounts and Slack from the phone and revoking it bedroom access. Still, not much of a difference. Maybe it just takes more time, I don't know.

Articles urging you to quit social media list several benefits.

You'll stop feeling inferior to others. That's true. I used to mind my own business when riding a train. Now I judge people for being glued to their phones.

Having an abundance of free time on your hands. Not an abundance, but bits and pieces of extra free time do compound over a longer period. I did manage to spend more time reading and building side projects.

Being happy, motivated and in a good shape. I'll admit, it does feel great to not use any product associated with Mark Zuckerberg. Whenever there's news about some data leakage, I smile a little knowing it doesn't concern me. Or does it? It also feels great sneaking out of the Twitter “where everything's refutable and arguments don't matter” party.

You spend more time with your real friends. No, I miss some of my virtual friends and their witty posts. I also miss staying in touch.

I don't regret quitting and I don't regret ever being on it. I would pay a monthly subscription for an ad-free version of Facebook. The kind that doesn't track what porn you're watching and doesn't run psychological experiments on its users.

I kept my LinkedIn account. I keep lying to myself I need it for work. Maybe it's just hard to say the last goodbye.

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