On the 20-year Anniversary of 9/11, I made the decision to delete the social media accounts I actively used for years: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. No, I didn’t just disable them, I deleted them. Of course, in hopes that you will relent and just log back in, you can undo it, just like that. There’s no way to irrevocably delete them instantly. So, October 11 is the point-of-no-return day. Think I can hold out? Time will tell and let’s see.
Here’s my case for why, for me, this step was necessary. It may not be the same for you; or, you might have other or better reasons to consider it; or, why you’ve already done so or even why you never got involved with them in the first place. Please do share your own thoughts and reasons, pro and con, in comments. I will be uniquely interested.
Before I get into my reasons, my aside on how I began thinking seriously about this decision. A week ago, an Aussie friend here in Thailand recommended a new 6-part Documentary by National Geographic: 9/11: One Day in America. It’s perhaps the most well-done, compelling documentary I’ve ever watched. It’s composed entirely of two things: 100% actual archive footage from every imaginable perspective, interspersed with the 1st hand video and audio of people who were there and lived through it all. There is zero reenactment and zero narration. In fact, there is not even the voice or image of an interviewer for those giving their personal recounts. It meets my tough standard of fucking brilliant; especially, since more and more stuff on all fronts is just crap that easily passes for the growing contingent of worthless morons all around the world. Guess where they all hang out.
It’s just so clean, clear, pure. One could say: harrowing. Here’s the trailer to give you an idea. It’s also very a-political in every way.
There was not much in the way of social media at the time. So word spread primarily by media outlets and their narratives. To the extent you remember those, see how well these accounts compare, what was emphasized, what deemphasized, what ignored. Maybe you’ll find the difference between a weave of true accounts and story making.
But one thing seems quite certain: the making of “The Story” led to a response that resulted in incalculable costs to life, liberty, and happiness. For one, they ruined the joy of air travel globally, now a hoop-jumping, degrading exercise with dubious effectiveness. And it got us into two wars—Iraq and Afghanistan—and I’m sure you’re aware of what an abject disaster that has turned out to be.
Underlying it all is public fear. But while some measure of concern and caution was and is perhaps still warranted, really? All of this, over 20 years!?
So I came to the conclusion that what we are experiencing today, 20 years later in terms of fear-driven Covid policy with its dubious effectiveness, really has roots in that One Day in America. And the concern is, for me at least, that just like the TSA and all that goes with it, people just submit to it and it becomes the norm. Time will tell.
So my primary reason for my decision to cancel social media is that I see it as the primary means of driving public fear and hysteria in the word today. In March of 2020, in my first blog post about Covid-19, I wrote:
I’ve been in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand since right before public knowledge. At the time, it was just prior to Chinese New Year and there were tens of thousands of Chinese tourists here. Yet, I’ve never been concerned about it and to my mind, the only truly new strain of “virus” is a confluence of three general things:
1. A fully developed Internet and its chief manifestation, social media
2. The global, politicized leftist/socialist media
3. Trump Derangement Syndrome
But in no way does it justify the literal absurd hysteria we’re seeing on a global scale, and I attribute this to items 1, 2, and 3, above. I’ve never seen anything like it. People young and old seemingly have no memories or learned experiences anymore, beyond their quotidian social “news” feeds. Each day is a new day of ridiculous information, and nothing else matters. There’s no past—that’s way down the feed—only what’s coming out now. Quick, update the feed.
But if you look at this thing by age breakdown, you see that for the healthy and young, under 40, it’s a 99.99% in dealing it an ass kicking.
Yet looking around, it’s the young and dumb who seem to be the most hysterical and cautious. Why? Because social media has created a 24/7 world of Virtue Signaling Olympics—each displaying more faux concern, thoughtfulness, caring, circumspection, deliberation, and caution than the rest. And it goes on from there, such that there’s nothing really new to say, so it becomes comment threads that are 90% “me too,” a bizarre menagerie of the banal and the boring—faux virtue signaling faux virtue. And the only offset anymore is not counter-balancing rational judgment, but faux outrage at anything that goes against the prescribed faux virtue.
What a fucking mess. And everyone is full of shit.https://www.freetheanimal.com/2020/03/my-musings-on-the-coronavirus-covid-19.html
The Mental Issue
I think where it’s not creating more and more plain crazy people, sociopaths, psychopaths, and assholes, it’s at least creating a lot of frustration, obsession, anger, and plain unhappiness.
I’d place myself in the latter categories, probably up to and including asshole, often enough. I think prior to 2016 and Trump, I’d be a little direct, sometimes rude often enough, but I wasn’t harboring hatred for some stranger somewhere in the world. I’d just typically think they were being stupid and I’d point that out.
And because of all those negative elements, I’d often be motivated to drink too much too often, so an element of vicious cycle enters the scene.
Then, of course, there’s the plain and obvious narcissism that’s virtually built into the whole thing and it’s damn hard to resist that tendency. After all, everyone likes to be liked, and of course, Facebook has a Like react, but not really a dislike. Twitter has a heart. So it’s heart or nothing. Instagram is the same. This distorts reality, since you’re only getting the positive feedback, there is no correction by negative feedback, except in comments or replies. Many influencers with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of followers never have time to go through thousands and thousands of comments. But they sure can get a LIKE!!! Tally, an entirely distorted scorecard as to how you’re really doing in the trial of public opinion. There is no dislike.
But these platforms do not want you to have access to that sort of correction-by-reality information. Lacking that is what conditions us to keep checking in, to see how many more Likes we have and we become neurotic junkies. So as the high from one post’s engagement begins to wane, we have to post something else quick, to get juiced up all over again.
Pathetic, isn’t it?
If you are stupid and wrong, social media makes you more stupid, more wrong. If you are smart and right, social media throttles your reach, limiting your feedback, compromising your ability to make corrections over time.
You select those to befriend and follow, presumably and mostly those with whom you share core values—a value being that which you seek to gain and keep. So, you begin the selection bias machinations by choosing your friends and those whom you follow. Social media is perfectly happy with that—even if you may have selected many with opposite values held, simply to keep your enemies closer. But your behavior in how you react is embodied in understanding full well who are the “good ones” and who are the “bad ones.”
Want to see more? Then hit this link on Google Scholar for papers on ‘Social Media and Neuroticism.’
The Time of Your Life
We all have the same amount of it. Many people say, “use your time wisely,” but who’s to say what a wise use of time really is? Is that an absolute standard—like there’s some universal wise use of time—or is it realive; i.e., wise for you is different for someone else owing to a lot of factors?
Well, of course, the latter is the better way to regard it, and it turns out there’s a wise old parental admonition that’s perfect for the task:
Don’t you have something better to do?
…A common variation: better things to do.
How much time are we talking about?
I looked, but could not find an updated chart. But given the spike in ass-time-from-home since early 2020, you can only imagine. Interestingly, 2008 correlates well with the introduction of the Jesus Phone in the summer of 2007. Shortly after that was when I went from a PC-guy since 1988 to all-Apple. And it was specifically because I wanted the full integration between a Mac laptop and an iPhone. A couple of years later, I added the iPad when it came out, and my personal social media consumption exploded. A perfect way to sit on my ass and ENGAGE!!!
How did I justify or rationalize that time spent?
Well, in those days still, my primary means of communication was email and I eschewed SMS or Texting as simple-minded crap for people who can’t write a sentence—and hence the 140-character-max success of Twitter… Paleo was still in full swing, I was an influencer via this blog, podcast appearances, and speaking gigs at AHS. Many in the Paleo movement—both producers and consumers—were still primarily using blogs and my posts would get dozens to hundreds of comments. So I’d sit out on the porch using my iPad to engage in comments.
All in all, that wasn’t so bad. Unlike many others, I didn’t have a blog like Blogger where my content was really owned by Google. I used WordPress on my own installation, not WordPress.org. It’s still the same. I can change hosting providers easily; and I have, a number of times. At least I was using the new devices, iPhone (away) and iPad (home), to primarily engage with my own stuff. I was using them as tools to advance and promote what I was doing.
And then the long slide, where it went from using a hammer to build my own house, to using the hammer to bash in my own skull while creating and promoting content owned by those who’ve become some of the most justly hated miscreants on the planet.
…I went from using them as proper tools in pursuit of the best I can do, to gradually using them to avoid something better to do—which is what I had already been doing!
…I saw this coming, sort of. I believe it was sometime in early 2014 I noticed that the Facebook Page for this blog had about 7,000 – 8,000 followers. While comments here were still going strong during my various projects like resistant starch and the gut biome, the engagement on Facebook was decidedly different. Here, 90% of comments were contributory in some way while over there, it was largely the inverse. Of course, anonymous losers, trolls, and pip-squeaks would find that they have more leeway to run interference over there, where I didn’t have complete iron-grip control as I do here.
So, I deleted it all. All Facebook, both my personal profile and the page. Though I kept Twitter, I rarely looked at it and never engaged anymore. I had begun on the right track and stayed the course. …Until I did my experiment with off-grid living in Baja, Mexico, in the summer of 2015. I created another Facebook account. Months later, I created another Page for the blog. Then, I started creating Groups like Ketotards and a political-oriented group.
Stupidly, I began promoting them from here at FreeTheAnimal. In essence, I was steering people from here, to there! How fucktarded was that!? I won’t even bother with excuses, since there are no good ones. In simple and plain fact, I was stupidly seduced by the allure of having massive “followers” on social media. But even if I had achieved that, to what ends? So what, I gradually become a social media “influencer,” everyone hangs on my now 240-characters, my images, my embellished existence, and my need for a 24/7/365 addiction to a stream of Likes?
Too needy, eh?
Your Own Garden
I’m personally proud of what I’ve accomplished here. 5,000 posts over nearly 19 years, 99% written by moi meme. Today, in the space of about 4 months since I moved to a Membership Blog, I’m 20 members shy of the 500 mark with more added every single day. My archives are deep, Google Search treats me pretty well, and I create enough new content to remain relevant.
I answer to nobody.
This is why I have not even mentioned THE HOT TOPIC!!! of social-media censorship up to now. Only when I was uselessly spending hours per day in the belly of that beast did such things matter to me. Now that I’ve been spewed out of my own doing, why would I care? I began drafting this post 3 or 4 days ago, once I initiated the detonation.
I quickly found that I had little clarity about it. I liken it to coming off a week-long boozing vacation where upon your return, 3 days of detox and sleep are required until you feel right in your own mind.
When amongst all the trees, you don’t have the best perspective of the whole forest.
What has tragically happened to social-media junkies is that you’ve long forgotten about all those [better] things to do before social media and “smart” phones even existed. Well, think back. What did you do prior to about 2008? What did you do with all those hours every day when there was no way to scroll through the outraged opinions of complete strangers? How did you even get by?
Here’s a suggestion: ask your grandparents.
And: how is your family life? How is the intellectual and curiosity formation of your children going?
You know, we can’t avoid the question of whether electricity, water, and gas need to be universally available as public-utility monopolies. It’s already baked into the cake and until true off-grid living is practical and economically viable for most, those things are pie-in-sky “libertarian utopia” issues. I understand the argument that social media has become a public utility of sorts and ought to be regulated as such, with its quasi-monopoly status.
On the other hand, this is proof, and you can be proof, that neither you nor anyone need social media in the same way you need electricity and water…or gas, sewar, and some form of telecommunication—even a “burner.”
I don’t have all the answers just like nobody does. But I can relate experiences. My own, and I can share a few.
Here’s a few examples I read, and you can search the internet for plenty more. What you will have a hard time finding are accounts where someone deleted their social media and lived to regret it, and it made their life worse rather than better.
- One Year Ago, I Deleted All My Social Media Accounts
- Why You Should Delete Your Social Media Apps Today
- People Who Deleted Their Social Media Share What It’s Like
Here’s a video I liked.
I guess an obvious question is, ‘what if I don’t already have a garden like you, Richard, so I can’t just go out and do some weeding and take up where I left off?’
I don’t have a good answer to that and certainly, not one that could even remotely apply individually. I fully understand that this should be far easier for me than for many of you, especially those with a decent social media presence already.
I can say one fundamental thing that is absolute, though: whatever social-media garden you planted and are tending to, it’s not your garden! You already agreed to that in the fine print. They own all the content, are free to sell or rent it, and are even free to lock you out of it. You are working for them and in most cases, are not even getting a cut of the revenue.
Imagine that. You spend upwards of hours per day working to create content for someone else that they can sell, take all the revenue, and you get paid in Likes. Thumbs Ups only, and your generous Union Contract specifies that you can get no Thumbs Down.
How pathetic is that?
So the only real answer to all those questions is that no matter what you do, it has to be yours, under your control. You have to own it and that is not possible with social media. You believe you’re building something for yourself but in reality, you’re an uncompensated employee. You’re their intern. And often enough, they’ll slap your hand or set you in the corner under a dunce cap until you come back to be a good little intern creating acceptable content for them to sell.
Oh, don’t think I don’t know it. The whole time I’m writing this, I’m thinking: tons of my readers over many years will be going, “yep, that’s why I never….”
Congratulations. I fully acknowledge it. High salute and solemn nod.
If there is one thing I have read in comments over many years, it’s on the order of “nope, I don’t do that;” meaning, have social media accounts.
And there are others, the exclusively social drinker-sippers…those who can manage to use them as viable tools to keep in contact and share with family, friends, and old acquaintances over positive aspects of life while staunchly limiting it to that.
Still others…who manage to use them exclusively for business promotion with ads and such but never get themselves entwined personally. It’s like putting up a billboard, but NOT camping out underneath with groupies, to admire it around a campfire.
Well done; may you inspire and guide all of us.
I liked the days prior to 2012 or so when most people still went to blogs or singular web-based outlets to interact with others around shared values.
‘Shared values’ is just another way of saying community; community, by its nature, being the sharing of like or similar values. You are unlikely to find many strange bedfellows in small, tightly-knit communities.
Does that word ring a bell, ‘community?’
It should, because it’s the word used every time you step out of line on social media. “You’ve gone against community standards!”
This, in itself, is the crux of the Big Lie.
For the more astute, that should immediately call forth questions like “whose?” or “which?”
The very terms “Global community,” or “United States Community,” or “European Community,” or “African Community,” or “Asian Community,” et al, puts the obvious lie to that bastardization of concept employed by all social media companies to herd their content creators around like sheep, checking their every word of every posting. We know very well that those are all very general usages of the term community and within them, many communities with standards exist. American Hip-Hop Community vs. American Redneck Community. Anyone…?
No. the Obvious Big Lie is that social media uses “community” as euphemism for company policy or terms of service. So be that, but it’s a vicious lie and ought to have been the first clue that all these companies are all evil to the core. Their aim, truly, is to cloud the natural diversity of values that exist all over the world, for better or worse, into some dystopian sense of New World Order with a bunch of narcissist techies—who can’t even change their oil or tire—in charge of everything.
So the ask is this: please share this post all over social media. Like tons. Nothing could be more ironic. If you’re one of those who has accounts, please share it. Stick it to the man.
UPDATE: I purposely didn’t cover FOMO in this—Fear Of Missing Out. That will be covered extensively later: Permanent Crisis Is The New Normal — Prosper Anyway #1.
UPDATE 2: Social Media Costs You Big Bucks!