Late last year, one of the more voices in the Linux community, Bryan Lunduke, announced his 2020 New Year’s resolutions. One of Lunduke’s resolutions was to cut social media out of his life, a thought that has crossed my mind as well.
Here’s a quote from his Patreon post, 2020 New Year’s Resolution: No Social Media, No Cellular Data:
Yep. Cutting Social Media out of my life.
I’m talking about things like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, the Fediverse (Mastodon, LibremOne, etc.). No more posting, reading, liking, commenting on, or re-sharing posts on any of those services (or any services like them). I’ll keep the accounts so that nobody else can claim them and pretend to be me… but otherwise, they’ll be shuttered.
– Bryan Lunduke, December 22, 2019
In today’s day and age, that’s pretty radical, especially for a guy like Lunduke. He runs The Lunduke Show, a show about technology news, Linux, and retro computing, and social media is a key tool for building an audience for an online show.
2002: No Instant Messaging.
I did something similar to this myself back in 2002 when social media was in its infancy. Friendster, considered by many to be the first mainstream social media site, was still in beta mode, and Twitter wasn’t even a twinkle in Jack Dorsey‘s eye. But something existed that I theorized was about as useful (as in “not useful at all”) as most modern social media sites are today: Instant messaging.
Instant messaging (or IM for short) is a type of online chat that offers real-time text transmissions over the Internet. Think Facebook Messenger without the Facebook, stickers, location sharing, games, money transfers, and GIFs. It was basically just text with ASCII emojis that might be converted to tiny pictures in some chat clients.
I was a pretty hardcore IM user, but one day I decided stop using it for a week. Let me quote myself from my announcement post:
Why [take a break from IM]? I’m not sure if I really need it. I seldom use it for anything useful, just chit-chat. And this chit-chat is usually with people who are living within striking distance anyway, so if I feel a sudden need to talk to them, I could just hop on my bike. Or pick up the phone.
During my week of IM rehab, I realized that it was harder to get hold of people, they started to complain that I wasn’t online, and work on my master thesis wasn’t as efficient as before.
But it didn’t turn me into a social pariah, much in the same that way deleting Facebook won’t make you one today. It might be that staying in touch with people will be a bit harder in the beginning, but you’ll find ways to keep with the important people in your life.
2020: The Year of Valuable Social Media.
I don’t plan to cut social media out of my life like Lunduke in 2020 - I’ve already reduced my social media footprint considerably. In 2018, I deleted my Facebook account. Then I deleted my Instagram account in 2019, and absolutely nothing of value was lost. Today, I’m only active on Twitter and Mastodon.
Many think of Twitter as a cancerous cesspool of hate and toxicity, but I think it’s fairly easy to weed out the trolls. Neither am I the type of online persona that attracts a lot negative attention. My Twitter timeline is quite pleasant, and I get a lot of useful information and links from it. The same goes for Mastodon, which makes it even easier to have an enjoyable social media experience. That Mastodon user base is teeny-tiny compared to Twitter also helps a lot, of course.
What you should do in 2020 is to eliminate everything that radiates negative energy. And that goes for absolutely everything, not just social media. If something doesn’t have a net positive effect on you and your life, get rid of it. Perhaps that something in your case actually is social media. If that’s the case, so be it. Delete all your accounts.
You should at least delete your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Do it today.