Social media is a cancer

Almost every day I go for a walk with a co-worker or two, and the last week we were talking about the things in our life that vie for our attention.

We got on the topic of social media, and after the recent election, I decided I can’t take any more of it. I have to take a break.

There are many tools available to help curate the stream of consciousness coming from friends, strangers, and family, but none of them seem to be strong enough for me. The world is messed up; I realize this. But I don’t want to spend hours fighting the demons of information trying to get into my head. I have reached a point in my life where I am making great strides in personal development. I’m being challenged, in a really good way, in my career. I’m making an honest effort to be a better family man. I’m working on my debt. I’m working on my life.

But social media seems to take away from all of that. I have found myself guilty of phubbing (a new term I recently learned), and I feel awful. Someone will be trying to engage me in conversation, and yet I pick up my phone out of habit and start swiping away. I do it to my wife, my friends, my kids, you name it. I am disgusted with myself by this.

It’s time for a fast. I have no idea how long this will last, but I’m giving it an honest try. I went 40 days last year without facebook, but I went so far as to delete facebook, twitter, and instagram apps on my phone this time. I’ve changed my /etc/hosts file to point those domains to nowhere (in geek speak, I’ve made it so my computer doesn’t know what to do with those web addresses should I accidentally type them in the browser bar).

I already feel lighter. Even tonight, I’ve worked on a side project and written this post, which is more than I can say for many other nights.

I hope to produce more writings on the blog, more projects getting completed, and more personal projects making their way to the light of day. Meaningless consumption doesn’t stop at physical items, and frankly, I have had enough of it.

I hope RSS is still a thing …


10 thoughts on “Social media is a cancer

  1. Kyle Shevlin

    Editing the hosts file, pro move right there. I hadn’t thought to do that. I think of it this way, it is so easy to default to “consumer mode” instead of “maker mode”. Maker mode isn’t just your projects and writing, it’s also the making of better and more intimate friendships and relationships.

    Best of luck with your fast. I’d love to see what side projects you make in the mean time.

    1. ericjgruber Post author

      I agree about the defaulting to consumer mode being too easy.

      As for the better friendships, one of my friends said, “Now I’ll have to ask you how the kids are doing instead of seeing it on facebook.” I like that a lot.

  2. Kerrie McLoughlin

    Good for you! I stay on there because I have blog posts and books to promote and I do paid social media posts on my blog fan page. I TRY to get in and get out after doing my business and interacting with my homeschool and other friends, but I always get sucked into the news feed and I end up unfollowing a bunch of people. If I don’t want to see their stuff, why don’t I just unfriend them? That would be rude. UGH. Social media really is a cancer. Keep us posted!

    1. ericjgruber Post author

      Yeah, it’s a little strange not knowing if anyone has even seen this, but I like getting the comments. I’ll consider that a good trade off.

  3. Cat Turner

    Why not try limiting social media using to your desktop PC and just remove the apps from your phone? That way you have to be spending dedicated time on the computer to engage in social media which of course takes time away from your family so you’re not going to get sucked in all day (one would hope!)

    I think its the whole computer-in-a-phone that’s the problem these days because people take their phones everywhere with them.

    1. ericjgruber Post author

      That’s a great question.

      For me, it isn’t an issue of where I use it, it’s a problem of using it at all. It’s so easy for me to get sucked into a rabbit hole of negative discussion with what I was seeing, and I’m choosing not to participate.

      I’m certainly not alone. I have several friends who are “drying out” right now from social media, and they’re all saying the same thing that I’m experiencing. We’re becoming more productive, more creative, and finding we don’t miss the hateful discussions and name calling that caused us to leave in the first place.

      As for me, I’ve written more regular blog posts than I have in a long time. I am spending more quality time with the IRL people I love to hang with, and I am working more on creative side work that gives me great fulfillment. I don’t see any reason to change what’s working for me.

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