In this new year, I’m giving up social media

I shouldn’t have to go on holiday just to get away from the internet

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So we’re coming into the new year and with that comes the inevitable; resolutions we know we won’t keep. In the lull between Christmas and New Year the question of what we want to change about ourselves became more prominent than ever.

This year, I want to be able to give up or at least reduce the amount of time I spend fretting about social media. It’s easy to focus on my next carefully curated Instagram post or what I retweet on Twitter, forgetting that in reality these things are irrelevant.

One particularly pertinent video that was recently popularised online featured a psychologist talking about how our addiction to technology, and specifically to social media, is affecting our relationships and social interactions. Ironically, this video was shared all over Facebook and Twitter. Although few people go as far as the psychologist in comparing this addiction to that of alcoholism, smoking and gambling, it’s hard to dispute that the relief I feel when I get wifi abroad is on the cusp of unhealthy.

For this new year, I thought going on holiday would be a perfect start to my social-media free resolution. In the two hours between leaving the hotel and arriving somewhere with internet it’s unlikely that I’ve missed anything significant, and my friends probably don’t need  to see the cocktail that I got at the restaurant on Snapchat. However, a part of me felt the need to ‘share’ my life to remain relevant. This is where the problem lies; we need to make sure that when we’re absent in person, we are forcefully present online.

Perhaps the most problematic part of social media is that it distorts our view of the world. In making a decision we consider not only what we want, but what is most instagrammable and what will make for the best post. I have felt myself do this on many occasions, distracted from reality by the photo opportunity that is presented to me. It’s more important to get a good picture with lots of likes isn’t it? To make sure that it looks like I’m having a good time, rather than having a good time in the first place.

How many times have we judged a person or, more commonly, assessed ourselves, by how many likes we have on our profile picture or our following vs followed ratio on Instagram? Perhaps more than we’d like to admit. How many times have we stalked someone in place of taking the risk of actually engaging with them? I’ll stick to a ‘no comment’ on that one. The effect of these things is a lot of judgement, a lot of knowledge about other people and where they went on holiday in 2011, but little more than that. We forget that their online representation of themselves may be not be a representation of them in real life.

Cover photo worthy?

I suppose this is the background to my New Year’s resolution. Deleting and reducing the use of some of my social media apps is hardly a monumental change, but hopefully in doing so I’ll be able to look for more than good captions and banterous hashtags.

And maybe I’ll learn to order a fancy drink without letting the whole world know about it; maybe I’ll just enjoy it for myself for once. The truth is, on social media we put the brightest and best parts of our lives and ‘hide from timeline’ the rest. But that’s hard to remember when we compare ourselves, lying in bed covered in Sudocrem, to the models posing on the beach in St Tropez.