Take the Red Pill: The Day I Broke up With Social Media

9/11/2014 Stephen Colbert 2 Comments


I recently uninstalled the Facebook mobile app.  I'm still on Facebook now and then, but not on mobile.  I've found there are several much better ways to spend my time online.  It's been enlightening.  My wife took it a step further and deleted all her social media accounts entirely.  Here's is her explanation:

In case you haven’t heard, FB, OkCupid, and now even Twitter are engineering your life.

And while I’m not inclined to turn molehills into mountains, I can appreciate the justified reaction to learning you’ve just been had.  I don’t share in the outrage personally, because, to be frank, I understand how the internet works (to some extent).  I click, they gather info, they spit it back to me to tell me to click other things I might like, and along the way, their pockets get lined with my fleece.
Want to try something fun?  Go to the knot.com and make a fake wedding profile and then just browse on YouTube and FB casually.  Wait a minute - what are those banner ads?!?!?!  Oh, they’re all wedding stuff?!?!?!?  SHOCKER.

And unless you want to go to this extreme, the inundation is pretty much unavoidable.

Back in the day, I was an advertising major.  And then it hit me - I did not want to sell to little kids.  Bansky puts it better:


Yeah, that.  That right there is why I left advertising and went into...wait for it…political science.  Which I also hate.  I’m like a walking ad for community college first, folks.  Take it from me.  Sallie Mae certainly is.

I digress.  To get to my point:  Today, I broke up with social media.  I’ve got basically, three reasons.
First: professional credibility.  I have opinions, like, a lot of them, and I find it taxing to repress them.  Social media makes me an opinion-whoring machine - I just tell it like (I think) it is and let the chips fall where they may!  And while I certainly don’t find my own beliefs and perspectives offensive, some sensitive little flower-child I work with might certainly get their panties/boxers all up in a wad over a blunt Tweet of mine.  Oh wait, that has happened.  Twice.  I’ve been accused of being racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, and anti-woman.  Well...as a woman whose best friends are a Jewish agnostic and a Hindu born in India, and who, for years, immersed herself peaceably within a community known for its large gay population - I disagree.  Cherry-picking doesn’t prove anything, but screenshots sure do have a lot of leverage in this day and age.

And that’s kind of the crux of this point - FB, Twitter, and their ilk are NOT an accurate representation of our holistic beings.  Seriously, though - if it were, every duckfaced tween would also be posting pics in her retainer and One Direction pyjamas after the heavy eyeliner comes off.  If we posted pics of laughter at a wedding, we’d also need to post pics of our sobbing cousins at our grandpa’s funeral - to be balanced, that is.  To provide a complete picture of the human experience.

But no one wants that, do they?  FB doesn’t think so.

Which brings me to my second reason for leaving social media:  I no longer desire to compare my real life to the carefully-curated lives of my “friends”.

As a Christian, I am commanded to not envy.  And like, oh, I don’t know, every other human on the planet, I get super jealous about stuff from time to time.  For a hot minute there, I was actually so worked up over a FB pic of my friend’s wife’s new home design project that I had to hide the post.  Like, WHAT IS THAT?!?!?  At the time, I was living with my in-laws and didn’t really have the freedom to redesign my living space to reflect my own personal style or taste.  But here are my friends - homeowners with a Masters degree apiece, and instead of being so excited for them to build their home together, I was all “woe is me” and “Why can’t I have coordinating pillows on a deacon’s bench painted to match the trim?” and “She’s so perfect I bet my husband wishes he had found someone more like her.”  And so on, and so on.

Ugh.  I have an exceeding capacity to be a small person.  Barf.

But don’t even start to feel good about yourself for not being so small.  You totally get what I’m saying.  Maybe not about a cute DIY pillow set, but about something else - your friend’s boat, the vacation they took with their family to Puerto Rico, the new boyfriend so-and-so has that brought her roses - the list is endless.

Until I can conquer my own envy, I’d rather not constantly expose myself to someone else’s perfected, Instagrammed, pre-filtered “reality” and continuously beat myself up for not measuring up.  Because after all, I really am happy that my friends own a home and a puppy and a pool and can enjoy these luxuries for which they have worked so ceaselessly.  I really am ecstatic that my friend is having a baby, because their baby doesn’t inherently lessen my chance of having a child someday.  I really am proud of my friend for landing a new job in a new city.  And I’m more than happy to email her and tell her sight unseen.

And finally - and most simply - I just want to start living life instead of documenting it.  Instead of letting the food get cold while I try to make the perfect candle-lit arrangement for Instagram, I’d like to pray, eat, and be merry over it.  After all, you can’t capture the feeling of sand in your toes with a Tweet.  You can’t really evoke the scent of warm apple pie in the oven with an Instagram.  And there’s no way FB chat will ever replace a Thanksgiving meal with my cousins.  Life is best when it’s lived.

So feel free to join me in escaping the Matrix.  There is a blue pill - (twitter and FB logos here) that will keep you numb to reality and tuned in to the curated fiction we’ve been buying into.

Or, you can take the red pill and learn to live a life so fulfilling, you forget to press “Post”.

Amanda Colbert, formerly known as @moarpi34me.  If you like this post, you can buy me a drink at my neighborhood bar instead of following me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

2 comments:

  1. I took the blue pill 5 months ago and still find ways to waste time, but it isn't as easy. ;) BTW, reading this post and forwarding it out over my twitter was not a waste at all. Thanks Amanda for a great post.

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  2. Thanks, Kevin! I've finally started our blog - http://thecolbertrapport.blogspot.com/ - to allow myself some sort of outlet without FB. :)

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