T.S. Elliot, a man who didn't live to see the invention, let alone spreading of social media, understood just what it is: a distraction.
“Distracted from distraction by distraction” - T.S. Elliot
How many of you will be watching TV instead of doing your work, and still be scrolling through Facebook? How many of you will be talking on the phone instead of writing your essay, and still scroll through Instagram while the other person is on speaker? Even now, while I should technically be studying for my Astronomy test, I am writing this article, and still getting distracted by the incoming text messages I'm receiving.
Social media has turned into not only a distraction but also a distraction from our distractions. We have such an inexplicable desire to see what is going on in the lives of others- sometimes people who we don't truly care about or even talk to- so much so that we are willing to put our lives on hold from being on hold in order to see what is happening in other people's lives.
Now I know what you are most likely thinking: a millennial who is constantly on her phone (I admit that fully) has no right to say that we are all wasting our lives on social media, that we have become too dependent on it for pleasure, and that we should look up every once and while to smell the roses and see what the world has to offer beyond a screen.
What you don't know is that a few weeks back, I read an article titled "What Happened When I Deleted Snapchat." I had never been the biggest fan of Snapchat until about a year ago, and even still, it felt like more of an obligation than a pleasure at certain points. I had multiple streaks (the amount of days in a row that you Snapchat someone) that were over a hundred days, as well as a few that were getting close to that point. It was when a friend killed a streak of ours due to phone difficulties that I realized how incredibly meaningless it was to have Snapchat in my life. Sending stupid pictures and carrying on conversations with word limits was not my definition of communication, nor was learning about the most recent happenings of a person's life through their "story" satisfying, so why was I allowing myself to let it become such? Over the next 3 days, I let the rest of my streaks die out, then proceeded to delete the little yellow icon square off of my phone for good.
I felt such a sense of relief. For about a month now, I've been rid of Snapchat, or what my mom loves to call "Snapcrap," and couldn't be happier. It was weird, enjoying not having a form of social media. I wondered what it would be like to do away with some other forms, too.
I didn't delete Facebook or Instagram, but I did a cleanse of my own fashion. I opened up Facebook. I defriended people whom I barely know and whom I don't ever talk to. I unliked all of the pages on Facebook that I would scroll past and ignore anyways. I left all the groups I was in that I would ignore notifications for.
I then did the same thing for Instagram. I took a look at the number of people and pages that I was following: 515. Honestly, I didn't even know I knew that many people or paid attention to that many celebrities. I opened up the list of those whom I followed and if I read the name and it meant nothing to me, I unfollowed them. In total, I unfollowed 270 accounts. Truth be told, I could probably narrow it down even more.
The overwhelming amount of pressure that I felt lift up off of my shoulders was incredible. Of course, I want to keep seeing what's going on in the lives of my friends and family, I just don't need to keep a tab on the people who I don't converse with as much.
It's only been a few days, but I find myself spending less time perusing Facebook and Instagram. I never pay mind to Snapcrap, and as for Twitter? Pshaw. Like with Snapcrap, I don't need my thoughts limited to 140 characters.
That being said, I wouldn't delete the forms of social media that I enjoy because I do find value in them. Keeping up with family members whom I rarely get to visit and friends who live out of state is a significantly important part of my life. Facebook and Instagram give me a means of doing so when I don't have the time to call.
My whole point is this: if you are on social media, by all means, stay on. It's the way of the world now and the bandwagon to be on, trust me, I get it. I highly suggest, though, that you take an hour of your time to do a cleanse. Unfriend those who you never talk to. Unfollow the celebrities who you don't care about. Leave groups that you pay no mind to. Unlike the pages that you scroll past without even glancing at the content. You'll find that you spend less time scrolling and glancing at unimportant posts and more time reading what you care to spend your time on.