Is it time to take a social media fast? Social media runs everything these days. It can be helpful (but you can use local sites to find lost pets and post jobs). Other than that, is social media really of much help? Let’s find out. And if you decide to keep it, then learn how to use it discerningly. And get back your life – and your freedom!
You don’t need social media. You existed, before it did. People used to get angry about social media, now it’s more just boredom. How many selfies can people take? How many Youtube videos say ‘Welcome to my channel?’ It’s boring. The main reason to get off social media is because it’s boring!
Say No to Social Media is for anyone who is falling prey to the mindless scroll or is familiar with FOMO (fear of missing out). Is the pressure of likes, follows and notifications getting you down? Although social media is a big part of modern life, using it can often leave us feeling drained, unfocused and unhappy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this book, you have all you need to get back in the driving seat. With 100 practical tips to help you switch off, you’ll find it easy to take the first steps, towards a happier online life.
You may think you’re in control, but Facebook is tracking you every step of the way, so they can find out what you like, and try to sell more of it to you. Ethica has a good post on deleting Facebook and tracking.
Facebook is pretty scary on privacy grounds, you are tracked doing most anything. Someone is always watching you here to see what can be sold to you. And there are all kinds of horror stories ((suicides, murders, stalkers, hate speech) which nobody seems to have the powers to stop.
You may know Sacha Cohen Baron as his comedy alter-ego Ali G. He became known in the US when he tried to dupe the (then Apprentice host Donald Trump) into investing in his ‘ice-cream gloves that let you eat ice-cream, without your hands going sticky’. Donald did indeed smell a rat, and declined.
In real life, Sacha is a Jewish Cambridge history scholar, who gave this talk on the dangers of Facebook. He says taking ads from anyone in the name of ‘free speech’ means it would have taken money from Hitler for ‘the final solution’, if the price had been right.
- Pinterest. This is more a visual search engine than social media, but can waste thousands of hours for people comparing their imperfect lives to others. Some say it’s good for business, but recent changes (to encourage more ads – how they make money) means unless you spend huge amounts of time here, it’s not worth it.
- Twitter was founded by two friends. A good idea in theory to tweet 140 words of importance from journalists and campaigners, now the platform is more about selfies, bullying, nastiness and gossip. And people telling you what they had for lunch. You can’t sign up without your phone number (they said numbers were safe, then accidentally sold them to ad companies).
- LinkedIn is pretty boring, a good reason for leaving. This is like those ‘networking lunches’, wheere it’s who (not what) you know. Follow your own path, don’t sell your soul to get followers. Just pick up the phone and network that way.
- Instagram is used to share pictures. It’s now been hijacked by ‘influencers’ who take endless selfies, assuming people don’t have things better to do, than look at them. It’s owned by Facebook, a good reason for leaving.
Alternatives to Conventional Social Media
If you can’t go through life without social media, how about meeting people in person? Or use a telephone (landline is good, just sit on the sofa and chat to a friend). You could start a little blog and communicate that way. If you want concrete alternatives, there are a few to choose from:
- Mighty Networks is a social network to create an ad-free Passion Economy, bringing together millions of likeminded people to connect (free basic version).
- Next Door is free to set up, just set a local boundary for your area, and people can join or not. You can list lost pets, when there’s a party, ask people not to let off fireworks, post jobs and volunteer opportunities, tell people of a lovely view or anything you like.
- Vero is like Facebook, but without the ads. Named after the Italian word for truth, this is on subscription so pays for itself, with no need for ads to track you or sell you stuff. It has no no algorithms so doesn’t ‘read you’ and no data-mining (you control who sees what).
- MeWe is a social network built on trust. It has no ads, no spyware and your private life is not for sale. You own content and control interactions and design your level of privacy. The company does not share or sell info, and there is no targeting or newsfeed manipulations.
Reasons to Give Up Social Media
Former Silicon Valley tech guy Jaron Lanier was born to parents who escaped murderous regimes from the Nazis and Ukraine (his mother was killed in a car accident and his father injured, when he was a child). To get away from the stress, he became one of the first ‘virtual reality’ experts, before deciding to give it all up and create his own reality (he owns over 1000 musical instruments). He says to delete your accounts and wrote Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts. His reasons include:
- Losing your free will
- Undermining Truth
- Makes what you say meaningless
- Destroys capacity for empathy
- Makes politics impossible
- Make you unhappy
- Hates your soul
In the book, he talks of his love for cats and dogs, but how they are very different. A dog will stick by you (alas even if you mistreat him). But a cat will say ‘sod off’ and go live somewhere else. He thinks with social media, we should all be cats. Not be told what to think, what info we can use, and who we can talk to. Say ‘au revoir’ to social media, and hello to a new life of freedom.
The Guardian has a good article of a woman who was considering giving up social media. So she interviewed some who had already done it:
- One woman found time to take a master’s program. She doesn’t shop online, and just uses her phones to make calls.
- Better sleep
- No hassle looking for your phone
- One woman gave up her 11,000 followers on Twitter, and felt relieved like walking away from a bad relationship. Another gave up after scrolling, after she found herself feeling anger at women with living children, after her only child died in labour.
- One swapped it for sleep meditation videos and now reads 2 to 3 books a week, instead of 2 or 3 a year. And studies Celtic mythology and herbal medicines.
Social media can make you feel ugly, too fat or thin, the wrong colour or intellect or that you must be angry, jealous, depressed, anxious or spend more money. It can also stop you thinking clearly, and many people have been killed as they fell off cliffs, from taking selfies. One person attempted suicide, upset at the selfies taken. Another had to visit hospital with repetitive strain injury from typing on What’s App.
I didn’t know what Facebook was. And now that I do know what it is, I have to say – it sounds like a huge waste of time. Betty White
Thanks to social media, people can take pointless pictures and pollute the world with their dumb shit faster than ever before. Everyone thinks they’re entitled to their 15 minutes of fame. And it’s that narcissism that makes people (who have no business writing a book) think they can write a book. Oliver Markus Malloy
It’s impossible to improve health using Facebook. Because every time you get good medical advice out there, it’ll eventually be overwhelmed by bad medical advice which will be more engaging. Jaron Lanier
The main problem with Twitter is how every user who posts considers themselves a public figure, often without a hint of irony. Nobody cares what you think. The Tab
There is a US self-help author who writes books on how the universe works, and how to find inner peace. But it all goes pear-shaped. At the end of each audio chapter, she ‘Click to tweet!’ The bubble of authenticity bursts immediately.
Celebrities Who Don’t Use Social Media
Considering many addicts of social media are celebrity addicts, here is an inspiring list of celebrities who do not use it: It’s interesting that people who think they are interesting tend to use social media. But genuinely funny talented comedians like Tina Fey (‘I can see Russia from my house!) don’t. She asks ”Why would I give away my jokes for free?’
- Actress Keira Knightly tried to use Twitter for 12 hours ‘to be down with the kids’. But it creeped her out so much, she immediately left.
- Sandra Bullock (the woman that most men secretly are in love with and women want to be like) does not use it, simply because she has better things to do.
- Kate Winslet won’t have social media in the house, as she believes it ruins children’s self-esteem. She once complained to a magazine that photo-shopped her legs to a third of their natural size, saying it sent out the wrong message to young girls.
- George Clooney (and his lawyer wife) don’t do social media. He says he is prone to saying stupid things, and doesn’t want to do it on social media!
- Mila Kunis (actress married to Ashton Kutcher) says nobody wants to know that she is ‘now moving from room to room’ or going to the bathroom.
- Daniel Radcliffe (who played Harry Potter) likes to have a private life. And believes his requests would not be taken seriously, if he was tweeting.
- Cate Blanchett says social media gives other people the impression that ‘there is a better life over there’, which sets people up, to crash them down.
- Actor Ralph Fiennes won’t use it as he is ‘sick of the world of truncated sentences, soundbites and Twitter’.
- Cameron Diaz says it’s dangerous to ‘get your validation from a bunch of strangers’.
- James Bond actor Daniel Craig won’t use social media, saying he’s tired of people posting useless life updates. ‘Just call each other up and go to the pub and have a drink’.