Opinion » Maxed Out

Going cold turkey on social media



I divorce you. I divorce you. I divorce you.

Contrary to popular belief, that won't actually do the trick under Sharia law. But beliefs don't become popular just because they're right.

So, social media, I divorce you — three times — under my own version of Shrill law.

I divorce you because you are shrill. And rude. And ignorant, uninformed, incurious and just a plain freakin' waste of time.

I divorce you because you are manipulative and I hate being manipulated. You're choc-a-bloc with fake news, clickbait, scam artists, hackers, horkers and cousins of Nigerian princes who want to make me rich. You're populated by shills who want to tell me something I simply won't believe and in times of weakness, when I click to find out what it is I won't believe, well, I not only believe it, I feel like the dupe I am for having fallen for it one more time. Lucy always pulls the football away; clickbait always underwhelms... always!

I divorce you because I never wanted to enter this relationship in the first place. There are many things in the world about which I prefer to remain in the dark. I've never watched one of the gruesome beheading videos. Why would I? I never wanted to get to know Facebook. Why would I? But it became "necessary" one year for a job I no longer have. And once on, I suddenly discovered I had "friends" I'd never met.

Being a sociable guy — and not wanting to appear hostile and surly to people who requested a virtual friendship — I generally responded favourably. Except, of course, for those buxom, young women who had no friends except a rabid horn-dog or two and was extremely interested in a hunka-hunka of burning love like me. I figured whomever it was was either blind, conniving or really just another cousin of a Nigerian prince.

I divorce you because I hated being asked to like something. I always operated on the rule that I like what I like and I don't like someone asking me to like something I know nothing about... which is a lot of things. And since I didn't know their business, cause, social movement, plan to dominate the world, I didn't want to lend my substantial opinion — facetiousness alert — to whatever it was by liking it. Point of fact, I didn't like it and even grew to hate it because I was asked to like it.

I divorce you because you epitomized the pet-rock syndrome. Some meme — whatever that is — would suddenly appear, be driven into the ground seemingly by everyone who wished they'd have invented it but couldn't come up with anything other than a pale derivative, and disappear soon, but not soon enough.

I divorce you because in social media land, opinion passes for fact, for action, for science and for entertainment. Unfortunately, not all opinions are created equal and social media is the remedial classroom for opinions of the mentally challenged. Coupled with the thrill of instantaneous thought to electronic page, the vast majority of opinions on social media are about as well formed as diarrhea, if not quite as appealing.

I divorce you because I came to loathe people who were "friends" who just couldn't shut the frig up about things they had far more opinions than knowledge. "Friends" who would never say in person, face-to-face the kind of rude, ignorant nonsense they felt comfortable sharing on social media. "Friends" who are no longer friends and for whom I feel both sorry and disdain in equal measures.

I divorce you because you breed laziness. People ask questions of their social media friends because they don't or won't spend the same time to look up answers from primary sources. I'm not talking about meaning of life stuff, more like "What are the rules for getting on WHA's waitlist? I'm too busy to look them up." But not, apparently, too busy to post the question, await incorrect answers and continue stumbling through life with vague, inaccurate information that rapidly becomes hard facts in your tiny mind. Really?

I tried my own 12-Step program to wean myself off social media a few years back. It worked for a while but like a junkie at a flop-house party, I backslid. I peeked. I chipped. I was hooked again.

I'm not a 12-Step kind of guy. I'm a cold-turkey guy. My stint in rehab this time around was a 15-day sojourn sans Internet. Zero. Zilch. None whatsoever. I had twitchy mouse fingers for a couple of days, found myself daydreaming about what was going on in the world outside my briny reality, vaguely wondered if I was ignoring anything important and missed the rubbernecking at the car wreck of life dished up minute by minute on social media.

And then, the fever broke. I stopped missing, stopped wondering, started breathing fresher air and being in the moment. In the back of my mind I knew whatever was happening before was still happening without my assistance. My acknowledgement was unnecessary. Governments continued to obfuscate, crazies continued to kill, Nigerian princes continued to swindle, clickbait continued to entice with things no one will believe.

I didn't care.

And I still don't.

My name is Max... and I'm a recovering social media junkie. It's been 10 weeks since I've had a fix. The desire is gone. I'm moving on with my life. I can be around people who still wallow in social media and not be tempted. I've logged on twice since I kicked, both times to check for messages from real friends who still can't figure out my email address is printed on this page every week and they don't have to message me. And I looked on the buy/sell page once. But that's all. Honest. I'm clean. OK, cleanish.

Many people decry social media's siren song. They say it distracts them and lures them into wasting time. Not me. I have a lot of things I like to do that waste my time. I don't need social media for that. And since it's many of those same people who complain their life is too fast paced and they never have enough time to, say, cook food, I suggest they join me in kicking the habit. I can't say eschewing social media has freed up a lot of time in my life but that was never my complaint to begin with. It's just made it better.

So, if you're a friend, you understand how I might have missed your message. If you're a "friend" wondering why I haven't liked your post, now you understand I really don't give a damn and, frankly, life's a lot better for having missed it altogether.

I divorce you.