Opinion, Vantage Point

I took a month off of social media and it changed my perspective on being connected

Social media is inherently needy and attention-seeking. This isn’t one of my famous hot takes it’s a very common complaint. I have always tried to fight against that neediness – culminating in my monthlong social media cleanse.

Below are my takeaways by social network in order of their popularity. A whopping 68 percent of Americans use Facebook, 35 percent use Instagram, 27 percent use Snapchat and only 24 percent use Twitter according to Jan. 10 Pew Research findings.

Facebook

So Facebook holds intimate personal data on 68 percent of the population. This might get to the tech giant’s head (even though Mark Zuckerberg’s head is disproportionately small, right?).

Facebook ran a mass psychological experiment on more than 600,000 users in 2012 in which it altered users’ newsfeeds to manipulate emotions. The company sold ads to Russian operatives seeking to intervene in the 2016 President election.

So overall, I don’t trust Facebook. They aren’t putting users first because their true customers are advertisers. This floods my newsfeed with products I don’t want, dull memes, click-bait news stories that reinforce my own beliefs and only very occasionally an interesting post from a friend. Even then, friends’ posts are almost always cloyingly self-promotional.

Facebook does create value for me, though. It is the best database on people I’ve known throughout my life. I know it sounds creepy, but I know you all search people up before setting a Tinder date, after meeting someone at a party or when reminiscing on an old crush.

Facebook is like an elaborate Excel spreadsheet. You should use Control+F and functions to mine the data for all it’s worth, but you’re not going to keep a spreadsheet constantly open and scroll through millions of cells hoping you find something interesting. So I’m not re-downloading the app; I’ll just occasionally open a browser tab when I need to find some specific information.

Instagram

I’m not going back on Instagram at all. This decision has surprised many friends who say it’s their favorite platform. While I used to find Instagram pleasant for scrolling, after getting used to replacing my time with activities other than social media scrolling, I find very little utility for it.

It also seems like the most artificial presentation of people. Finstas or “fake Instagrams” are separate, private accounts that users only allow their close friends to follow and are not easily searchable by name. On finstas, users feel the freedom to be more honest – even posting photos in direct opposition to the falsely positive narrative they cultivate on their “rinstas” – real Instagram accounts.

Plus, I already know what my friends are up to, I don’t need #picsoritdidnthappen. Calm down Becky, it happened. And when I missed one of their activities, they can actually just tell me about the experience in person – a much better conversation than “did you see my most recent Insta?”

Snapchat

Snapchat is just visual texting and will always be my favorite social media. I know you’re all groaning about the update, but you’ll get used to it in a few weeks and forget what you were mad about, just like every update ever. And the new bitmojis? C’mon, how could I give up a platform this cute? I’m keeping Snapchat.

IMG_6708.png

It’s come a long way from the place used solely for sending disappearing nudes. So from now on, I’m going to take full advantage of all of Snapchat’s uses. I’ll only post videos of me speaking into my phone and narrating videos.

Twitter

Twitter is content-packed. It’s information-driven and can be easily digested. Sure, nuance is hard to achieve in 280 characters, but I’m a journalist – brevity is always the goal. I use Twitter for news and although it might be an echo chamber, it feels less engineered and forced than Facebook’s constant partisan click-baiting.

While I’m flattered by the majority of votes (and who are we kidding, only five people voted and those are just three nice friends), I decided to keep one day off social media per week. The possibility of relapsing into the boring, mindless scroll without contemplating purpose is just too high. So every Monday, the day I most need to be productive, I’ll be closing the tabs and turning off app notifications.

Annie Cappetta is a senior studying political science and ecosystem science and policy. She is the managing editor of The Miami Hurricane.

February 26, 2018

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Annie Cappetta

Annie Cappetta can be reached on Twitter at @acmcappetta and via email at acmcappetta@gmail.com


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