Quitting social media for the sake of being social

October 9, 2018

In recent years, teenagers have been automatically associated with social media by older generations. While most do use Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter regularly, this assumption leaves out about the minority of people who choose to stay away from these platforms.

On December 16th, 2015, I decided to quit social media after Snapchat glitched and deleted my 110 day streak with my best friend. I remember texting my friend in all caps “I quit social media forever!” Aside from a few Instagram posts, my promise has held for almost three years. At the time, the decision seemed rash and unwarranted, but it was a long time coming. I was frustrated by the amount of time that I spent on Snapchat and felt a strong pressure to present a perfect life for everyone on Instagram. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself in middle school, these apps did not give me the fulfillment of real social interaction.

At any get-together with friends, at some point the majority of people are on their phones, mindlessly scrolling or taking selfies. It usually happens when there is a lull in the conversation, as a distraction mechanism to avoid awkwardness. When this happens, I start to feel out of place. With no social media, looking at my phone has no use, and distractions are not as easy to find. If there is one thing that I have learned in the past three years, it is that my friends are just filling seconds the way their brains are trained to do, and they all believe that it is adding something to their lives. Instead of pretending to have something to look at on my phone like I did at first, I have stopped letting the pressure to fill every second with distraction get to me, and use these moments to start up a new conversation instead.

When I tell people that I don’t use social media, most ask if I have a hard time staying up to date with friends. The truth is, turning away from Instagram and Snapchat has led to more conversations about important matters that make me more “up to date” on their real lives, not just their social media facade. I may not have as many followers or snap friends as most people around me, but the relationships I do have are deep and meaningful, and I would not trade that for the world.

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