10 Things I Learned From a Year Without Social Media

1. Social media isn’t bad.

Being without Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, this blog, and other forms of social media has not left me any worse for wear. However, there were times during my year-long hiatus when I missed feeling informed about friends, family, and acquaintances I have not bothered to actually reach out to. I also missed seeing local business events and finding cool things to do on the weekend.

2. Social media isn’t good either.

Twitter’s new feed hasn’t made me a better person and looking at pictures of famous athletes on Instagram hasn’t helped my body image. Aside from business use, it seems to me social media exists for two things: bragging and complaining.

3. Almost no one missed me.

In a world of constant flux and short attention spans, we are just not as important as we think we are… to everyone else. And here I thought America was hinging on my latest movie review or insightful philosophical introspection. I mean, it’s not like with me absent on FaceBook to challenge bad ideas America went to… hell… in… a handbasket… is it?

4. I didn’t miss you, either.

No offense. I love my friends and family–well, in a mostly congenial way, at least. I did not miss seeing pictures of drunken stupidity, incomprehensible political opinions, fake news, click bait, Bible quotes, chain letters, obscure rants, and pleas for random charities I’ve never heard of. In fact, I found that fewer things annoyed me while I was away from social media. No politics; no Idiocracy. (Know politics; know Idiocracy–sorry, couldn’t resist.)

5. Social media is great for finding stuff to do.

This is the thing I missed most, actually. Facebook is probably the number one way Nicole and I find interesting things to do on the weekend. Better than friends is subscribing to all of your favorite local businesses and restaurants! (Sorry friends. I didn’t not mean that. I love you guys.)

6. Standing in line without social media is still boring.

I thought without being able to scroll through my feeds while waiting at the checkout, I would think about important work matters or contemplate life, or engage with people in line, or just be present in the world. Instead, I found there is not enough time and attention to become lost in thought or solve problems in line. People around me are avoiding eye contact by scrolling through their phones. Instead of being present, I just waited more impatiently, reading celebrity headlines. Social media is actually more fun than not talking to anyone.

7. I understand why parents find watching kids play with their phones so annoying.

Sometimes, while on my social media hiatus, Nicole or one of my friends would scroll through their feed while I sat there doing nothing. It is super annoying but not because it is socially impolite like old people rant about. It is 100% FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I am just bored in those moments and I don’t want to be bored alone. It feels like the other person is doing something more important and fun than being bored alone with me. How dare they?

8. I don’t feel less connected to the world.

Turns out, there are many outlets and ways to find information outside of the Twitters. I used Google news to stay depressed and cynical. I sometimes checked into Meetup to ensure I didn’t lose any FOMO opportunities. I hung out with friends when I wanted to see people make bad decisions that I could laugh about later. My life felt no less connected without social media.

9. I am less angry over fewer things.

I love my friends, coworkers, and family–that’s why they are in my life–but I found I actually like people more when I know less about them. I guess I’m an optimist but in my mind I see the best version of people I can muster. My friends are rational, reasonable, respectful, sane people… and then I see their tweets.

10. I spend more time “in the moment”.

Being present is good when the present is beautiful or miraculous. It’s just that most moments suck. Most moments are boring and unremarkable. Think about the insane percentage of your life spent waiting… in line, for pages to load, for the bathroom, for commercials to end, at red lights, looking in the fridge, pooping… It’s great to be more present, but some presents are with skipping. Even endlessly scrolling through Facebook is better than sitting at the DMV with nothing else to do.