I stopped using Twitter & Facebook about 1 year and 3 months ago. I thought there might be some value in detailing how this has affected my life as an adult in this modern age. First, I do believe that my experience is skewed a bit by my physical location. I’m up North among the trees and lakes. The girl I’m dating doesn’t even use Facebook or Twitter. My co-workers don’t tweet and becoming the mayor of my office of 300 people on FourSquare takes about 2 weeks of work with little to no fanfare or celebration.
Fine but what about the people I know who don’t live this lifestyle and are in cities?
One thing I learned is around communication in general. Getting people on the phone is impossible. I can call colleagues but to call an old friend in San Francisco and have them actually pick up is simply impossible. I can leave a voice-mail but they won’t listen to it. They might text me back a few days later apologizing for not calling me. They’ll try to schedule time for us to have a catchup. “We really need to talk” and the schedule is missed or forgotten. Family and Friends both seem to avoid phones like the plague. The only persons who do call me back these days are my Mom and Dad.
I’ve debated making letter-writing this year a priority. I’d send out an email to people whose emails I still have and ask for their current mailing address and start writing letters. After 6 months, I’d probably give up because no one has time to write a letter, put postage on an envelope and drop it in a mailbox. On the subject of emails, this has proven to be very difficult. If I want to email an old friend and see how they’re doing, it’s not possible. Most emails are not checked any more or their address has changed. How can I get in touch with them? Well, obviously it would be to join Twitter or Facebook and send them a friend request.
Sending a friend request to someone I’m already friends with….Ridiculous.
My daily routine hasn’t been altered by the lack of social media. I browse reddit, read RSS feeds and utilize Instapaper for longer reads. There’s no shortage of content on the web that I find without the need for social networks. I still get spam on LinkedIN but I’m not alone there. I don’t get any spam in my Email anymore mostly because I unsubscribe from every spam / syndicated message I get and obviously I’m not getting any social media emails about someone commenting on one of my photos.
I did recently experience an issue for the first time in a year where someone promised they’d invite me to a party at their house. It’s a friend who I communicate with over the phone and via email. The party happened and I never received an invite. I found out weeks later that she invited me on Facebook and a few dozen others through Facebook. There have also been some occurrences of friends telling me they sent me a message on Twitter or Facebook or another social media site but I feel that this is an easy thing to fix.
If a friend tells me, “Hey did you see my Facebook message?” I respond with, “I don’t use Facebook. You have my email because it hasn’t changed in 6 years” They then learn to email or even call me. If they don’t think that’s worth their time, then I’m no longer their friend.
The few times I was in San Francisco last year, I did suddenly feel pressure again to join Twitter. It was the easiest way to communicate to a mass group of people, to tell a group you’re on your way, to post a photo of something really great while you’re doing it and it enabled spontaneous flash-mobs of friends.
Over the last year, I still upload photos to Flickr and videos to YouTube and I still blog almost daily. Reddit is great for some entertainment and I spent a lot of time both reading and writing. One thing I’ll add as another fall-out to not using social media is my readership hasn’t grown on these blogs. I see successful blogs posting their content to Facebook and Twitter and letting the conversations happen there instead of in the blog comments. I’m not going to spend my day managing a community and posting things to Digg or Reddit to drum up more traffic. I think that’s one of the main things that’s keeping me down a bit is that social media does have some positives but it’s also a tremendous time-sink.
I have a lot of free time these days and that’s a good thing. My friend just got back from the Philippines and we were texting and I asked if she could send me a few photos (email, presumably) and she said they’re all on Facebook. Oh well.