Stepping off the social world
I became addicted to social networks. What’s addicted for me? Opening apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from time to time and scrolling on their home page up and down for minutes. I was at that point when unconsciously ended up opening the apps. Do I have free time? Then let’s open Facebook. Is the project taking a lot of time to compile? Let’s check what’s going on on Instagram. A lot of context switching during the day…
Adding up, I became crazy using Snapchat and Instagram Stories, posting videos talking about my life, I’ve done this, and I’ll do that, and this weekend I’ll be in this other place. Was I trying to feel socially active? Was I trying to be an influencer? I didn’t track it but I could say I spent at least 1 hour every day in social networks. Besides the context switching, staying in the loop boosted my ego and made me feel bad sometimes. I travel somewhere, and I have the need for sharing your trip, because why not, everyone is doing it. I had a bad day, and you scroll your Facebook timeline all the way down, and everyone seems happy, why should I feel so bad? These places are not spaces where you usually talk about bad things; these are things that we usually keep for ourselves.I cared more about my social Pedro than the one in the earth.
Moreover, it brought me some anxiety, in particular with Twitter. Many things are going on there, that I felt bad if I wasn’t in the loop, and I didn’t open Twitter for days. I felt that I’d missed a lot and then spent half an hour reading what I’ve missed. I also became addicted to reading short pieces of text, status on Facebook, Tweets… When I tried to relax and enjoy reading larger pieces of text, I struggled to keep concentration and get the ideas out of the chapters. Most of the times I couldn’t concentrate on the content, and my brain kept thinking about what was going on the Internet.
I then jumped back in time and think about me a few years ago, when I rarely used Twitter, when I didn’t open Instagram in weeks, and I didn’t care about the updates on Facebook. I had no distraction; I enjoyed more every single thing that I did. I could do some jogging, read a book, or enjoy a dinner with some friends, having my mind present, and in only one context. Because I didn’t give a shit about my social presence. It happens to me nowadays, that I try to keep a conversation with someone and it is like trying to talk to a wall, just throwing words out of your mouth that go nowhere. It also happened to me trying to follow someone’s speech and not being able to stay concentrated. I felt terrible. I think about all the tools, which are coming out to make people more connected, but they are getting the opposite. I used to think that I was more connected by posting more on Facebook, or by Tweeting about the ultimate tools that I was using as a developer when I wasn’t.
Why was I doing it? From the developer side I was unconsciously trying to find some recognition in the community (Person X has done app Y). That opens up more opportunities but also some pressure. People set expectations, and you set yourself under pressure to satisfy these expectations. I tried to stop using Twitter, but after a few days, I thought… but all developers are using it, in a few years I’ll be unknown if I don’t use Twitter, where all the things are taking place. Is there something bad about it? Not really, I enjoyed building apps and tools being unknown. I enjoyed more doing stuff as an unknown developer than as known one. Now I care more about sharing than about doing. I felt that I became a sayer instead of a doer. Communities and companies are misusing the terms good developer and known developer nowadays. I’d like to be more unknown, use Twitter less, and if in a few years someone recognizes me, that he/she does it because of the work that I’ve done as a developer, not as a Twitter rockstar. Hopefully, newspapers, books and technical blogs will stay with us for a long time.
I wondered the same question for Facebook and Instagram. I mostly use them for my personal stuff. I share the achievements, trips, and the cool things that I do. I use it mostly when I’m travelling. I share the things that I do abroad, waiting for these likes, (or loves) on Facebook. I like when I see people liking the photo and commenting on it. But these things end up leading to ego: “Don’t forget to share the cool thing that you’re doing right now, either your awesome trip or the food at the fancy restaurant”. When I did show off my ego using these tools I ended up regretting. What if I do focus on the moment itself and forget about sharing it? Yeah, no one will know about your life unless you live in the same city where they live, but trust me, catching up while you grab a beer with your friends is worth it.
I uninstalled these three apps. I don’t have that easy way to use them from the phone. Since I did, I’ve spent more time reading and focusing in things other than the social activity. I also sleep better at night since checking social networks is not the last thing that I do before going to sleep. I’m not saying with that that you should do the same. The problems that I mentioned come from the way I use these tools and not from the tools themselves.