Writing Up Old Ideas IV: How To Connect With People Without Social Media
This idea found its way onto my list back in January 2019, and I think even by then it was an incredibly unoriginal take to not be a fan of social media. Research showed that in the US, millions of users had already left Facebook by 2019 and I think it’s reasonable to extrapolate similarly in other countries. I’ve been obnoxiously preachy about not liking social media for years already, so I don’t desperately want to go on about it anymore, but like a lot of other people, I’ve been on every social media platform there is, some of them I am still engaged with to a small degree, but by and large it isn’t how I get my social needs met. Actually, I think it does a much better job of approximating meeting people’s social needs than actually meeting them, and that is the reason behind the shift in sentiment against social media in the past few years, more so than privacy or antitrust concerns.
I think we’ve all got a lot better at connecting with people without social media, so I don’t need to talk about it too much at all. The thing I have always valued in my friendships is quality one-on-one time, and regular video calls have enabled me to have that with them rather than liking their most recent posts. I’ve loved doing things the old fashioned way and writing to my friends, whenever I’ve found one willing to be persuaded to humour me by writing back. Social media takes away almost all of the effort of maintaining a relationship across space, and without it, a meaningful investment of time and effort is required. It turns out some of my relationships were worth that investment, and others weren’t, so I let the latter lapse completely, and that’s fine; the remaining friendships feel healthier and more secure because of it.
Really the only thing I use social media for these days is ostensibly marketing, to improve my career prospects etc, and if you follow me on anything, you know that I basically don’t bother doing that anyway. It feels disingenuous and gross to me to try to make myself seem like some great programmer without showing any of my actual code. And obviously I’m not a great programmer - hopefully one day I’ll get there, but right now I have a long, long way to go. Besides, is using social media in those totally self-serving way really “connecting” with anyone?
At this point, we’ve all seen The Social Dilemma, all realised the lack of depth in social media, and learned ways to maintain meaningful relationships with our friends and loved ones through other means - and I think we all deserve to give ourselves a collective pat on the back for that.