FOMO

A couple of days ago I did the unthinkable. I deleted a social media account.

You will probably know that I recently deleted my Facebook pages for this blog and The Pukeko Patch. I thought that was a pretty decent first step in my self-styled “slow retreat” from the increasingly unpleasant world that this section of the internet has become. But I wasn’t feeling the same bravery around my own personal social media accounts. There was a lingering sensation of FOMO.

If there was ever an acronym that should be considered an onomatopoeia word, then FOMO is it. I’m sure it’s the scratchy little sound that comes unbidden from the back of your throat as your finger wavers side to side over your keyboard just before the final plunge to hit “DELETE”.
The fight between your thinking brain and your fear of being ‘an outsider’ concludes with a little whimpering sound….

FOmo……

And then the deed is done. In the press of a button it’s over.

Well, in fairness, I have thirty days to recant and all will be well in my little corner of the Twittersphere but I have no intention to do so. In a remarkable turn of events I was able to ditch the social media platform I probably spent the most time on, Twitter, with very little trauma and only the tiniest, scratchy FOmo… sound.
For me the hard #SMexit will be the deletion of Facebook.
Yes, I did just make up a hashtag for this process.

So what prompted this act of unwarranted bravery?
Well, an episode of Alan Alda’s Clear+Vivid podcast is the culprit.
I’ve been dipping in to it on occasion and enjoying it. On last week’s show Alan was interviewing Jaron Lanier who is a founding father of the realm of virtual reality, and sounds quite the character in addition to that.

As part of their conversation they spoke about Lanier’s new book, “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now“.
Here’s a link to his webpage relating to it. The cover of the book succinctly sums up the ten arguments. I found most, if not all, of them are accurate in my experience.
It was while listening to that conversation and weighing up some of their comments with my own observations that I came to the conclusion that it was time to gain back some of my life.
– Infinite scroll anyone?!?
And some of my hope for humanity.
– No more reading comments from bots or real, but vitriolic, people with no empathy can only improve my mental health!

My next challenge is to do the same with Facebook. I have some ideas about how I’m going to go about it, so I’m ever hopeful that I will vanquish the biggest of my SMexit foes. I just need to work up a bit more courage and do it.

Wish me luck!


More reading / watching: How we need to remake the internet

Retreat

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It has finally happened.

I have removed Oh Waily Waily from Facebook. In fact, I’ve removed both of my personal blogs’ Facebook pages and have reduced my time online there altogether.
It’s long overdue and part of my gradual retreat from the behemoth of social media.
In truth, if I could remove myself entirely I would. Sadly it is the ‘go to’ place for ease of community building and there are a couple of communities that I still value more than my full retreat.

As I continue to reduce my time on social media I’ve come to realise that there are plenty of things I won’t miss.

I won’t miss the Friends List, most of whom didn’t interact with me or I with them. This is not meant as a slight to those on the list, but simply an acknowledgement that time doesn’t stand still. We may have been mates back in the day but rarely, if ever, see each other in real life or even chat online. Over time I found the Friends List became an obligation to live in the past for fear of offending people with the dreaded “unfriend” button. Then one day I had an epiphany… these people pretty much never comment on or like my few remaining posts and there’s a good chance that I am buried in their 500 friends and will never be missed should I quietly disappear. So I chose to disappear.

Ooo, I’m such a rebel !

Now my remaining Friends List consists mostly of old friends who live overseas, family who live overseas or folk that I still hear from. But I’ve finally decided to ditch the unfriend guilt and continue a regular cull of the remaining list members until eventually it really is down to those for whom this is the best or sole way of keeping in touch.

Another thing I won’t miss is the banality of Facebook posts. I like a good meme as much as the next person, I really do, but my timeline has become almost nothing but memes, Year in Review and “Memories” posts. Once I had installed a browser extension to rid me of the stalking posts and promotional posts it really showed me what was going on, and the memes and memories were pretty much it. There are one or two friends who liven it up with personal, humorous and real life stories, but they are an extreme rarity.
I don’t blame any of my friends for this, it’s what the platform encourages and I am as guilty of it as anyone else. My friends aren’t my entertainment committee, although Jane Austen may have been correct:

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

So perhaps I should cut the platform some slack on that front.

What I will miss is the ability to quickly and easily post something I think would interest others. Things that I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing a blog post about.
But then, I won’t miss the ease of quick posts and dropping links, which I have come to realise has slowly eroded my motivation for thinking and writing blog posts over the past few years. This hasn’t sat well with me.
In real life I’m not really interested in small talk as I’d rather have a meaty chat about the state of the world, the random stupidity and genius of the people who populate it, and what makes up a meaningful life.
Susan Cain describes this really well in the quote below, although it’s overstating my preference for interesting discussions to say I have ‘a horror of small talk’.

Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.

Susan Cain, ¬†Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Although I may also be overstating the idea that I “listen more than I talk” as some of you who have known me a long time in real life* can attest to.

So here we are, retreating back to the blog. Retreating back to the quiet of my thoughts, a blank screen and a keyboard.
Not a meme in sight.

Hopefully we can have some deep discussions together.


*does anyone remember Mr Edmonds from Primary School? About the only thing I recall about him now is the fact that he got me to shut up in class one day by nicknaming me “Parrot”. Not a kind thing to do, in hindsight, but quite probably an accurate representation of my talkativeness.