The Benefits of a Social Media Diet
Last Fall, I went on a social media diet. I had found myself checking my Facebook a hundred times a day (no exaggeration), so I decided to give it up for a week. It was tougher than it should have been, but I broke my compulsive Facebook checking habit. However, my social media diet made me realize something else: how addicted I was to sharing.
Sharing Is Not Always Caring
They tell you in Kindergarten that “sharing is caring.” This is meant to be literal. You shouldn’t hoard all the Halloween candy. You should let your little sister use the computer sometimes, et cetera. That’s not the kind of sharing I’m talking about. I’m talking about sharing your thoughts, or sharing interesting things you find online. In some cases, sharing is a good thing. If you find something a friend would be interested in, by all means share it. But it’s very easy to overdo it. Before long, you’re posting every bit of your inner monologue online. Soon you may find yourself “checking in” everywhere you go, as if anyone really cares. This type of sharing is definitely not caring.
Online Stream of Consciousness
When you’re on a diet, you often crave unhealthy foods. Likewise, my social media diet found me craving to share every picayune aspect of my life. Every time I had a funny thought or saw something interesting on the street, my fingers tried to open Facebook and share it. I say that my fingers tried to share my thoughts, because it was not a deliberate decision. Years of using social media had trained me to put my entire life. Whenever something interesting happened, it didn’t feel “real” until I posted it. It’s taken me months to break this mindset.
I have a friend who likes to share irrelevant posts. He/she will find things online that are tangential to my interests and message them to me. Basically anything online related to coffee or puns, even if it’s not that interesting. Don’t get me wrong, if I find something that I think a friend would genuinely like, I’ll share it. But my social media diet, along with my friend’s annoying messages, has raised my standards. So if I have a friend who likes cats, and I come across a cute cat picture, I think twice about sharing it. With so many cat pics online, the threshold for sharing is high.
Someone to Listen
I realize the irony of writing this article. Considering this is a blog where I share many of my thoughts, I can’t fault others for sharing their thoughts on the Internet. If my social media diet has taught me one thing, it’s that the Internet taps into a deep-seated desire for someone to listen. And sometimes, it just feels good to write things down, even if we don’t share them at all. Since cutting back on my Facebooking, I’ve taken to journaling more. I don’t even care if anyone reads my thoughts, I just need to get them out of my head and onto a (virtual) piece of paper.
Have you ever gone on a social media diet? If you feel like sharing, let me know in the comment section.