After all the turmoil of the Nov. 2016 election this year, I retreated away from Social Media for two weeks. It was to clear my own thoughts from the thousands of hordes of voices that were filling my stream with indignation, fear and worry. I retreat into the solace of my own head space, and my own status update. Here is what I experienced during my 14 days of Social Media quarantine.
1) People around me often repeated the phrase “I have an Apple, I have a Pen, I have a Pineapple” and then giggle. This was often done while doing a little dance. I thought it was bizarre, but they seemed to find it funny.
2) I retained my time wasting abilities! I found that I could waste my time just as good without scrolling through Twitter feeds and Facebook. It was called reading Wikipedia on bizarre topics, like learning about the Nation of Niue, which seemed like a good place to live after this election. I imagined myself on the Pacific Island, drinking some fancy drink, listening to the crashing waves, and laughing that I once called myself an American.
3) I also found that my time could equally be wasted on Amazon, (it is kind of like what I imagine chewing gum is to people trying to quit cigarettes). While not the best surrogate for Facebook and Twitter, I found reading product reviews came with the same level of pleasure, but without the bite of political outrage. I often find myself adding things into my cart, and dreaming of one day having enough money in which I could afford the items in the cart, most of these items were exotic spices and cuisine which are never carried in the meat and potato markets of rural Utah.
4) There was less things to keep track of at home, and I tending to know where the kids were at any moment. In my social media days, I was reading about Aunt Myrtle’s trip to North Carolina, while also reading about my loosely recalled high school buddy’s travel to Vietnam, and my old co-worker par-a-gliding adventure, and Uncle Fred’s favorite television show, and which restaurant my college friend was checked-in at, and the picture of my old girlfriend’s potato salad. But now without those Social Media distractions, I knew that daughter 1 was outside on her bike, while daughter 2 was with friends at the park. And that was the only people I needed to keep track of.
5) With social media silence I could fool myself, because the only thing that really matter was just me. I could easily imagine that things went different. That everything was in sync in the world, that everyone was happy. I did this not because of selfishness, but because I enjoyed my ignorance. It was refreshing not having to interact and listen to everyone. The isolation was pleasing, because I did not have to listen to anyone’s option. I only had to listen to myself. I did not have to read about people’s fears and worries, about people dying or becoming sick and old. I was happy, so was the world!
6) Oh God did I just write that! I started feeling really guilty about my Social Media isolation, I feel that I was relishing my ignorance too much. There were people out there that needed my likes, that needed my helping support through the dark times. Sure they likely had other friends, and people willing to re-tweet their profound statements of truth. I felt like I was the Scrooge of the internet age, unwilling to pay attention to the needs or wants of the masses, and that I had every ability to click the thumbs up, or click on the heart, I could support their anger with an angry face too!
7) On day 8, Facebook started emailing me spam. Knowing of my absence, it gave me little statements, like “Susie added a new photo.” Or “Henry just updated his status.” In the subject line would be a glimpse of the item, like Susie is topless at the nude beach, or Henry added “I my god I won the lottery…” and while tempting to click on the button that came with the email, I felt satisfied each time I deleted the email. I vanquished the temptation like when I get those emails from Red Lobster, about their shrimp specials.
8) I started reading articles on solitary confinement. Of how people go crazy and start carrying out conversions of people that were not there, and making up stories to pass time, and how time itself became contorted and warped. And I started wondering if I was living in an alternative universe that I could only see, and I started getting really weird. I quiet trimming my facial hair and grew a long beard.
9) I started asking my wife, what was going on in Facebook. At night while she strolled through here social media pages, I would pepper her with questions. “What are you laughing at?” “Why are you crying now?” “Have they declared war yet?” “Any riots today?” “Has California become a separate country?” Mostly she was just say things like “Elizabeth had a new baby and its really cute, but you can’t see the pictures.” I felt lonely.
10) My internet browser kept tricking me to check out Facebook, every time I enter in a search that begin with the letter F, such as “Fudge Recipes That You Can Dip Your Body In” It would suggest www.facebook.com. < Oh my god! Even my blog has betrayed me it automatically added that hyper-link itself!
After my isolation, I finally decided to return to Social Media, you need me. You need my likes, and hearts, you need my Re-tweets, and my Birthday message on your timeline.
In the end, I wonder if this absence will be like my eventual death, that Facebook will continue to tempt my cold dead body with spam email, going endlessly into my email inbox, weird…. But..
I’m Not Dead Yet!
So I will start making posts on my Social Media feeds, because I know that you all missed me!
You did know that I was gone, didn’t you?