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Why I Decided to Mute Everyone on Social Media

I’m not sure about you but I feel like these days social media is a bit narcissistic.

Scrolling through my Instagram feed I see people posting wide-eyed selfies in the car or photos of themselves posing in front of the mirror. I see women sitting on sinks with their butts out or rolling around on the bed in lingerie. Some would argue they just feel attractive and proud of their bodies so they felt like posting. To me it all screams; “like my photo and tell me how good I look!”

We’ve created a social media culture where life is carefully created into one perfect “social media story” when in reality life is complicated and messy. A lot of influencers feel like their followers only want to see positive stuff although in an effort to be more “authentic” a lot more are now choosing to share the “warts and all” side of life. That too, though, can be annoying. I see influencers posting lengthy captions musing about life’s struggles and sometimes that feels like oversharing.

I guess you can’t win but the people I like following the most are people who don’t post that often and when they do, it’s something with a funny caption.

While social media has its positives, I feel like there are a lot of negatives.

It’s tough for relationships. Single people often post pictures to grab the attention of a particular person, whether it’s their ex or someone they’ve just met and want to date. They check their stories and get a flurry of excitement every time the object of their affection merely watches their story (yet sadly, doesn’t text them). And if they meet a new crush they can easily go through that person’s photos and get to know about their life without asking them about it, which creates a false sense of bonding. Instead of communicating and meeting up, people “orbit” each other by liking each other’s photos and sending flame emojis, but not really doing anything about it.

For people in relationships it can cause mistrust and jealousy. How many couples have had arguments because their boyfriend/girlfriend likes photos of members of the opposite sex on Instagram? I’m sure quite a few.

I have friends who gush about how amazing their partners are on social media when I know full well that their relationship is rocky and not going so well. When I see these types of posts I wonder if they actually say any of this to their partner’s face or if it’s all just for show. People like to create the illusion of being in a perfect relationship to all their friends and family because it’s better than exposing the reality and feeling like a failure.

I know some people who post every aspect of their day on social media, including their thoughts and what they ate for lunch. I feel like commenting, “Who are you talking to? Do you think we care about what you made for lunch?”

I guess I’ve become very jaded about social media, which is why I concluded this:

Social media sucks

Yep, social media sucks and it’s a complete time suck too.

When I first signed up for Facebook back in 2005 it was fun. I was in university and we posted photos of ourselves getting up to no good. We wrote stupid things on each other’s walls that nobody else would understand. Social media was…social. But then it changed. People’s parents and grandparents started joining and it became more tame. Brands started using it to create business pages and advertisers got on board. News articles started appearing in my feed.

Social media got lame.

I signed up for other networks like Twitter and Instagram because the Internet told me I needed them to promote my blog posts and work. They are certainly great tools for business promotion and for connecting with people in the same industry. But then Instagram changed too. I started out posting pictures of the scenery but soon realized everything had to be “Insta-worthy”, meaning it had to have me in it, preferably in a fashionable outfit. Instagram became saturated with beautiful lifestyle bloggers wearing expensive clothes and snapping photos of their room-service breakfasts overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

I felt like Instagram just became a feed of beautiful people living their best lives, promoting brands with #spon.

One day I realized, “Who are these people I follow? Why am I following the life of someone I barely even know?” There were some people I was following that I barely knew or hadn’t even met and yet there I was, seeing everything about their life and yet not really caring about their life at all.

The only reason I was watching was because I must’ve watched their story or seen their post and then Facebook/Instagram decided to keep showing that person to me. I would mindlessly watch their stories for absolutely no reason at all.

Essentially the action of checking social media has just become a subconscious, addictive thing that’s giving us all ADD. I realized I was following thousands of people that I barely knew and only a handful I actually regularly see in real life.

Social media was invented to bring people together and yet I feel like it’s doing the opposite. Instead of gushing about our children or our partners on social media we could be saying these things to their faces. We could be getting out of bed earlier and doing things together instead of scrolling through memes and videos in bed for an hour.

Politics is all over social media these days, whether it’s in the form of news articles, memes or people just sharing their thoughts. Yet I don’t see a platform for open discussion. I see people so vocal and opinionated that others feel afraid to share their thoughts without getting into public fight or being blocked. And don’t get me started on #cancelculture.

At the height of the pandemic I’d simply had enough.

I contemplated just deleting my Facebook and Instagram accounts but then friends reminded me; “don’t you need them for work?”.

The answer is yes and no.

I took an Instagram hiatus once for a month and realized it didn’t really make much difference to my actual work. I get most of my website traffic through SEO (Search engine optimization) and Google. Instagram is really just a tool to provide authenticity for my “brand”.

I offer photography services, so sometimes people connect with me through my Instagram account. Sometimes I work with tourism boards or travel companies on press trips and they ask me to post content on there. However most of the time my work is coming directly through search engine traffic.

I rarely post to Twitter or Facebook but I do use Facebook and Instagram for direct messaging some friends and members that are overseas. And that’s how Facebook gets you. If you delete your social media profiles, how will you get in touch with these people and how will they get in touch with you?

Social Media Mute: the nuclear option

So in search of options, I realized the best option was just to mute everyone. Unfriending seemed too harsh. I discovered a Chrome tool called Unfollow Everything for Facebook and although it gets good reviews, it didn’t work for me. Instead, I went the manual route and unfollowed everyone on Facebook. I then did the same by muting everyone’s stories and posts on Instagram.

It took hours and was so mundane, but boy, my life is more peaceful for it.

If you’re wondering what social media muting looks like, I simply don’t have a feed anymore. Nada. Nothing. Instagram tells me, “You’re all caught up!”

Occasionally I’ll go to my close friends’ profiles and have a peek but other than that, I don’t see anything. My “Stories” feed is all greyed out on Instagram. The main feed doesn’t exist, although Instagram still decides to show me ads and recommend posts of pages I don’t follow, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

My life is quieter. I don’t see memes unless friends send them to me via DM. I feel dragged into all the drama over politics and what’s in the news. I’m no longer seeing pictures of what a girl I knew back in high school ate for lunch. People I haven’t seen in 20 years no longer bombard me with pictures of their kids. It’s brilliant.

When it comes to work, some people will argue that it’s important to see what your competitors are doing. Personally I feel like it’s better that I’m not comparing myself to others. Instead I’m just focusing on what I’m doing and what I’m writing.

Social media is such a time suck that you can spend hours and hours just scrolling through feeds, replying to comments and reading articles that popped up on Facebook. I know social media is meant to be social but it’s a rabbit hole that’s best avoided if you want to be productive.

Now that I’ve eradicated my news feed I’ve stopped going to Facebook on my desktop altogether because there’s nothing to see. I only use it to message someone on messenger, so I’ve deleted the Facebook app on my phone and only have the Messenger app. I’ve noticed I use Instagram to look at photos of the food when I’m at a restaurant or I use it to look at things I want to buy, so I’m using it more of a shopping app than an app for posting photos.

I’m not sure what the future holds. Will social media die altogether? Will new social networks pop up? Will we all go back to basics? Or will these platforms simply evolve into something else? Who knows but just remember – what you see on social media isn’t all as it seems.

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