Could You Ever Quit Social Media Cold Turkey?

21 Aug

A friend of mine disappeared last week.

One minute he was there, and the next, I couldn’t find him.

Perhaps I should clarify: He disappeared from Facebook last week. He had posted something funny, I commented on it, and when I went to look at the post an hour or two later, it was gone — as was his entire profile.

I checked Twitter, and he wasn’t there either.

These days, that’s tantamount to someone disappearing off the face of the earth.

When I finally tracked him down a few hours later — via email, natch — he informed me that he had quit both social networks.

Just like that.

I suppose the decision wasn’t entirely unique. After all, recent Facebook statistics show use of the site is on the decline. And some people have quit Facebook as a way to protest its privacy policies, while others have gone on a “social media diet” as a way to escape the overwhelming, never-ending content stream.

But it wasn’t privacy concerns that inspired my friend’s decision, and he didn’t just want a time out. (Though, full disclosure, he did reinstate his Twitter account a few days later.) “I’m like Pavlov’s dog to social media,” he explained to me. “There are other things in my life that need and deserve that attention.”

He said getting off Facebook was good for the soul, and he was going to spend his increased offline time doing things that were more significant than what he often posted updates about.

Huh.

At first, I was taken aback by this decision. My friend was a guy who always seemed to enjoy Facebook, and who was actively engaged there. We aren’t the closest of friends, but we had gotten tighter over the past year and a half as we learned more about each other through our posts and comments. And in the days prior to quitting, he had posted a bunch of photos from a recent vacation.

But wasn’t that his whole point? And isn’t that increasingly the problem with all of us active social media users? If we don’t document that we did something — through photos, videos, status updates, or check-ins — did we really do it? And if we don’t actively engage with our friends and Twitter followers, do those relationships cease to exist?

Well, that’s one way of thinking, and I’m not sure I entirely agree. Social media can be silly at times, but it adds so much to my life — from birthday greetings on Facebook to just my everyday usage of Twitter — and that’s not even counting my choice of career. If I had to, I probably could quit social media easily, but right now, I don’t want to.

Nevertheless, there was a big part of me that was impressed by what my friend did, and really respected his decision to live (and keep) more of his life offline.

Given the sheer size of Facebook’s user base — close to a billion users at last count — those who aren’t on Facebook are increasingly seen not just as the exception to the rule, but as “abnormal.” (True story: A recent study found that some employers and psychiatrists find it suspicious when someone isn’t on Facebook.)

I know my friend isn’t abnormal — far from it. I support his decision to quit cold turkey. In fact, I kind of admire it.

That said, I’ll miss seeing his cool photos and entertaining status updates, and his comments on what I post, and I’ll miss keeping tabs on his life just in general. But I say good for him.

And besides, we do still have email.

Could you ever quit Facebook and/or Twitter, or any other social network, cold turkey? Have you ever considered it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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6 Responses to “Could You Ever Quit Social Media Cold Turkey?”

  1. Heidi August 22, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Interesting piece Martin. I think it’s all about balance… This is all still so new and who knows what’s psychologically healthy and when enough FB time is enough (or too much). Now we have a whole generation of kids growing up IN social media. What is reality to them? Interesting times,tindeed. See you out there — in cyberspace and real life too! (As there are no choc chip pancakes in cyberspace…)

  2. Andrew Kordek August 22, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    Yes Martin..I have often thought about quitting it if even for a month. I did it for a week and it was awesome…as I had some great thinking/free time on my hands.

  3. Evan Gordon August 26, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Three twitter-free days. Tonight was the first time I thought about it.

  4. The Wanderer November 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    I’m not coming back either, Martin.

    Real life, the outdoors, conversation, deep breaths, family, friends, reading, writing, etc. All better than spending my time on a phone or computer to check the status’ of people or share the latest meme. Social media is incessant and pervasive. It changes the way people think, live, react, communicate to an unnatural level.

    I’ll never step foot in another online ‘social’ arena.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What Were My Top 12 Blog Posts of 2012? « Martin's Musings - December 27, 2012

    [...] or big blockbusters like The Dark Knight Rises. I wrote about social media a bit, but my post about quitting Facebook, Twitter, et al cold turkey didn’t crack the top 15. My review of the movie The Campaign, which featured the headline [...]

  2. Are You Ready to Check in to a Life Less Social? | Martin's Musings - March 6, 2013

    [...] eased up in my use of, but I know a bunch of people who’ve gone further, opting for “social sabbaticals” in which they’ve hidden their Facebook profiles, deleted the app from their phones, and [...]

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