Monday, September 11, 2017

An Honest Return to Social Media

Here's what it would sound like if people actually returned to social media the way they leave it.

Oh heeeyyyy. Remember me? I’m guessing you probably do.

I’m that person who just last month announced my departure from Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram with a lengthy, self-reflective, and vaguely superior-sounding essay about Why I am Leaving Social Media Forever.

You might recall that this Dear John letter to everyone in cyberspace basically explained that social media is bringing me (and by implication you) down and wasting a ton of time that would be much better spent on real-life pursuits. 

Things like doing yoga and going to brunch while leaving my phone in a gun safe, instead of looking at other people’s pictures of yoga and brunch and/or posting my own pictures of yoga and brunch the second they happen.

Lots of studies have shown this is critical to one’s Happiness Journey, I helpfully pointed out.

Anyway, you may recall that, in florid language and with a tone suggesting I am the first person ever to wrestle with (and bravely overcome!) an addiction to the internet, I declared with self-satisfied sanctimony that I had done exactly that.

I told you and the rest of the world that I will be forever deleting all social media apps from my phone, and if you want to get in contact with me, you should try regular old-fashioned email or texting, which I asserted without evidence is very different from the social media I will now never use again. Better yet, let's plan some FACE TIME, and not on an iPhone!

What I did not do, however, was let you know I was back on every single one of these platforms.

Not three weeks after I insisted I was embarking on a forever “digital detox” and never wanted to see any of your tweets or your Instagram filters ever again—not even Mayfair or Valencia—I quietly skulked back into your newsfeeds and timelines with nary a word.

For some reason, my return to social media was ushered in with much less fanfare than my departure. I sort of just silently peeked back in and poked my digital head around the digital corner like, heeeeeeeeeeeeey, wyd?

You see, I came to realize that actually I missed—and maybe shouldn’t have been so quick to publicly malign—the nonstop, Pavlovian sensory input of your cats in costumes, your kid’s first day of school pictures, invitations to a book club/potluck, hashtags about 9/11, and the most recent clever tweets from famous-if-you-know-who-they-are internet luminaries mocking the last incomprehensibly stupid and offensive thing Donald Trump did.

Not to mention my own contributions to all of the above!

Also the absence of dings, bings, and little notification alerts made me feel really lonely and like a loser. 

You see, during my brief period of disengaging with the internet and re-engaging with the real world, I realized that social media makes me feel like a loser most of the time, but it also makes me feel like a winner some of the time, which makes all the feel-like-a-loser time worth it and which I need. Also the real world is mostly bleak and boring AF.

Mark Zuckerberg and @jack know this. That's why they're rich beyond comprehension.

However, this time I neglected to write another essay about how my first essay was strictly aspirational, and while everything I said in there was probably true, it was sanctimonious grand-standing, and the next time I decide to get internet-sober I should just go ahead and stop drinking instead of announcing to the world that I’m quitting because then I look really silly and hypocritical and kind of like a failure at self-righteousness.

Anyhooooooooo . .. great to see you again!

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