A Lonely Social Media Vacation Report

Being off social media for a while was good, but it started to get lonely, so… I’m back!

Over a month ago I decided to take a break from social media for a while – a social media vacation, if you will. Ultimately, I’m glad I took a break – my social media was starting to consume me instead of the other way around – but at the same time, I’m also glad to be back again. This is because, and I know this might sound kind of silly, but being off social media was… lonely?

It’s strange how loneliness is still kind of a shunned topic these days. Although we’ve become much more open to talking about depression, and how it’s not your fault and so forth, when it comes to loneliness, the common perception is still that the root cause of it is something you’ve done to yourself. “Get out more,” “join a club,” or “make some friends” are things that people might say or think.

Easier said than done.

In my case, I work from home full-time, so all my interactions with co-workers are done online. Outside of work, I have no close friends nearby, and so all my social interactions have to be done either online or else very infrequently. Given this, taking a vacation from social media effectively meant taking a vacation from almost everyone I knew.

“But Keith,” I might hear some of you say, “aren’t you an introvert? Don’t you like being alone?” Ah yes, a classic misunderstanding. There is a big difference between “being alone” and “being lonely.” Also, being an introvert doesn’t mean wanting to be alone all the time – instead it means more needing to be alone, sometimes.

As for the “alone” vs “lonely” thing, these are obviously not the same thing. I can be alone (no one around) while not being lonely (because I just spoke to someone, or because I’m interacting with people remotely). Likewise, I can be among a huge group of people (not alone) but be very lonely (not feeling a connection to any of them).

And this circles back to my social media vacation experience: because I am often alone (sometimes weeks go by where the only other human being I see in person is my wife), cutting off my social media experience cut me off from my major way of interacting/connecting with people – which naturally left me feeling a bit lonely after a while. (Luckily I did allow myself other communication methods during my self-imposed social media vacation, such as private chats and email, which helped keep me from feeling totally isolated.)

So while I’m glad I took a break to sort of re-calibrate myself, I’m also glad to be back and using social media again (though I plan to be a bit more strict with it, lest I end up in the same place again). It was good to use this blog as an outlet rather than tweeting everything, and I plan to continue to use it – in case it’s not obvious, I do actually really enjoy writing!

So that’s my report on my experience with a little more than a month away from social media. If you find yourself feeling consumed by social media in a similar way, you might try taking a break from it as well. It’ll be hard at first – goodness knows it was for me as well – but I do think it’s worth doing every now and again.

A Social Media Vacation

When something stops bringing you joy, maybe it’s time to stop using it – and so it has become with my social media feed (at least for now).

Recently, I found myself enjoying my social media feed less and less. Despite scrolling past all the negative comments and the bad news, I still couldn’t help seeing it as it went by – and just the sheer volume of negativity out there was starting to be come unavoidable, even if I just perceived it subconsciously. As a result, instead of feeling happy at the cute pictures I was seeing, or excited about people sharing photos, or talking about that neat thing they saw on the way to work or the latest thing about their favorite show or movie… instead, I was feeling angry and stressed – and I was feeling it more and more.

As a result, I decided to take a vacation from social media.

This wasn’t something I did lightly – I enjoy my social media (which for me is primarily just Twitter and its semi-replacement, Mastodon) and seeing lots of cool art, pictures, funny stories, and of course hearing how other people are doing. But between the “algorithms” as they are these days, and also just the nature of the world at large, my feed – though carefully curated – still became a source of anguish for me, rather than joy. So taking the stance that if something doesn’t bring me joy it shouldn’t be in my life, I logged out and committed myself to taking a break from using social media for a time – until perhaps I think the situation has improved or until I feel like I don’t miss it anymore.

“But Keith,” I hear you say, “isn’t this blog a kind of social media? And didn’t I see this posted on your Twitter and also on Tumblr?” Ah yes, well, that’s just the magic of cross-posting at work. I haven’t deleted my accounts or anything, after all. I also do still use my Instagram, since that is basically just photos.

And all silliness aside, I do still like to let people know that I’m still here and doing well – I’ve seen too many other people disappear from social media without a trace, and I’m always left thinking, “I wonder how they’re doing these days?” But with their accounts gone silent or deleted, I’ll never be able to find out.

So, that’s the story of why I’m taking a social media vacation. We’ll see how long this “vacation” ends up lasting, but thus far it has been all right. I’m actually hoping to blog more – less time spent scrolling feeds will hopefully mean more time to write for myself. I still find myself reflexively reaching for those apps on my phone from time to time, but the urge is declining steadily as each day goes by.

In any case, I hope you have a great day and thanks for reading!