Why I abandoned social media

As usual, I am typing things through a stream of consciousness. I would have wanted to be more structured with how my points are presented on this ‘radical’ move, but most of my entries trying to make a strong point are done as an internal monologue anyway, thus the name ‘bryologue‘. What prompted me to totally quit Facebook? A more direct answer might have been exasperation with the general public, but I have this perfect opportunity to elaborate on the motivation.

First of all, I did not have an Instagram account, not until four weeks ago. I am still using a BlackBerry phone, and as we know, it does not have a native Instagram application. I got really curious with all the brouhaha on the likes and hashtags, and it seems that it is a prerequisite for people around my age to have one. I might be missing out on something. I have a no-name Android tablet my father gave me a year ago when he went home, which I primarily use for reading Ebooks. The 4 gigabyte memory card capacity was rife with PDFs and Epubs. I am ashamed to say this, but I finally gave in and created an Instagram account just to get over the curiosity of why people are crazy about it.

Albert Camus's L'Etranger realized on Lego pieces

Albert Camus’s “L’Etranger” realized on Lego pieces

I might have posted around five photos and put carefully selected hashtags because the hashtag inundation from people on my Facebook feed was killing me. I even cringe at the idea of using hashtags, but it might have been a prerequisite if I were to be an acolyte of such an application. I followed a couple of friends, and a couple of friends followed me too. Some people did not follow me back and I was completely cool with it. In the course of a week, I open the application and looked at the feed of things posted by my peers. I knew beforehand that the level of narcissism in Instagram is tenfold compared to Facebook, but I still grew weary of seeing the same trivialities posted over and over again with the same hashtags. Social media has afforded us to be celebrities, documenting every move and acting like directors of our own documentary films. Do not also get me started with this loathsome word ‘selfie’.

I also have a Twitter, but in its four years of existence, I only open it about a maximum of three times a year on certain events such as imminent flooding during the rainy season when I fear for my family in Marikina. The most that I have used it in a single day was during the recently-concluded UAAP Cheerdance Competition when, again, I found myself using it and tweeting stuff more than the usual. Again, I shuddered.

Back on Facebook, I have realized that it is no longer for me. Again, ‘weary’ and ‘exasperated’ are two words that best describe how I feel over my social media presence. First, there was a rant by a world-renowned Filipino theater actress regarding a label that she hates. It really put me off and made me question why I follow celebrities and famous people in the first place. I immediately purged my account of these people. Before that and against my better judgment, I even had the audacity to reply/comment on posts by a couple of fashion models I look up to. As expected, did not receive any reply, but it did not prevent me from feeling off and personally affronted. As a result, I stopped following them as well. I had to remind myself I was meant to put a distance from these people, and the best way to approach them was to look at their work, appreciate it and take it at face value. They were literally stars, and Icarus coming closer to the sun did not also bring him any good. Any ‘personal’ interaction is forbidden or even non-existent because they are just there to be at the receiving end of people’s adulation. They exist to receive adulation, and I would no longer take part into that. This type of modern life, is it for me? This type of modern life, is it for free? (Madonna, 2003).

It’s funny how social media has been touted to bring us together, but in reality, it is also simultaneously keeping us apart. In my immediate circle, I have grown to ignore the people around me. I’m not being snob or what, but I am just preventing myself from getting hurt. I do not feel entitled at all, but I just feel a little affronted when I do not get the same excitement and enthusiasm whenever I interact with people I have not personally seen for a long time. Same thing can be said on the intent to exclude you and make you intentionally invisible albeit your presence. I have also come into terms over the limited number of people I should allow in my life, whom I genuinely feel to have my best interest at heart. I am not being anti-social, but I revel at the idea of solitude. Being away with people who I do not share/no longer share any interest with, and be at the company of an extremely limited group that allows me to be a better observer. There’s no point rubbing elbows with people who do not share the enthusiasm as yours. It also puts me in a position where I gain a better understanding of what and what I do not like, what and what do not keep me happy, or what and what do not drain me of the tiny ounce of sanity I have for myself.

It has been almost two weeks since I have abandoned my Facebook page. It was admittedly difficult in the first two to three days, given that my fingertips had a muscle memory of constantly scrolling down and refreshing a page to see the same things over and over again. But quite surprisingly, I eventually felt that I have removed a vestigial component of my life. I felt empowered. I have left my Twitter page as it was, by default, a useless application that I normally forget not until it is raining hard. I have removed all posts from my Instagram page and left but two photos. It was not much, given that I only had a maximum of six posts, but I felt that the Lego photo I had captured as an interpretation of Albert Camus’s L’Etranger sums up what I have been feeling until now. I grew exhausted of taking part into people’s affairs, making an effort to care, or seeing them soak up each others’ awesomeness (Ian, Janis: 2004). It is already a popularity contest from which I no longer wish to be a part of. It is a contest of the haves and have nots.

I may not be the one to talk about all of these as this personal page was, in some way, also used for self-promotion. I do not consider this as a style blog, although for the most part, the earlier posts contain a lot of the hedonistic things I used to ogle at. But then again, this is my personal space where I dump everything I cannot post in my social media accounts. I brag within the confines of my own little world with a necessary caveat in a prominent section (i.e. ‘About me‘). Over time, however, I grew tired of the same exploits. I am not to totally attribute this change to the life-changing moment I had earlier this year; but I have to give it some credit because it was obviously a game-changer and a driving force to this change in outlook.

I was just mulling over these things nine days ago as it was a very poignant subject. I suddenly thought of the song “The Sound(s) of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel from out of the blue, and I was astounded of how much the song’s lyrics spoke so loudly, but mysteriously, to me. I had to Google its lyrics, and look for Paul Simon’s inspiration for writing it. Succinctly put, it was about ” the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly internationally (sic) but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other” (Eliot. Marc: 2010). It was a very lugubrious tune that obviously comes from a dark place. A big part of the attraction was the metaphorical weaving of symbolism that describes the superficial culture we currently live in. Well, it has been always like this since capitalism has ‘triumphed’ over other economic systems. However, I won’t thoroughly go over that because there are times when I feel that I’m beginning to sound a bit like a communist given that I just cannot turn a blind eye over the ill effects of the capitalist system. Maybe because knowing that my current company just dropped all of the security personnel within a week like a hot potato, without any just compensation or leeway to give them time to look for alternatives made me loathe the system more. A business is still a business, and business decisions usually come at the expense of people regardless of their loyalty and dedication. I am furious, but at the end of the day, I am still a slave of the system. Back to the song, the lines “people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening“, describe perfectly how the process of communication exists in social media nowadays. We may be seemingly close with each other with all the trappings that this modern life had afforded us, but we also grew more isolated and detached from each other.

Camus's book L'Etranger

Camus’s book “L’Etranger”

Looking at the length of this post, it was obvious that I have a lot of things in mind. Having not posted for several weeks because I was too stunned to know where to start , it was no surprise that this one-time dump would be this long. A lot of things had happened, and I should be documenting every detail of my life because it is the purpose of this blog anyway. The point is, I surprisingly had a better understanding of myself being away from all the vacuous and empty exchanges and stroking of egos in social media. I also started reading materials I have hoarded over the years. I had time to literally clean up my mess and saw this book, which I thought to be lost for more than five years. I always have a soft spot for Albert Camus’s “L’Etranger‘ (see Lego homage above), not only because it was almost the topic for my undergraduate thesis, but it was the first ever French book I bought from BookSale in AS Walk at UP Diliman. I had to abandon it, though, because the material was too heavy to digest with my then start-up French knowledge. (I eventually worked on Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious in a literary analysis as inspired by one of my friends from more than a decade ago.) Now, I am surprised that I have a better appreciation of the text. Perhaps I am at the point of my life where the search for meaning was very laborious, that the theme of absurdity resonates really well with my current psyche. I have more sympathy with Meursault who I used to abhor due to his seemingly apathetic nature. Anyway, hopefully I get to have the same appreciation of social media over time, but I hazard a guess that it would take a very compelling reason to finally revive my presence there.


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