My month without social media

Well it’s the 27th of January 2016 and I’m about to go back onto Facebook after one month off it. It hasn’t been a hard thing to do for me. Mildly frustrating at times, especially when I know people have posted information about events and stuff on it, but not a difficult thing to do. I went off all “social media” on the 27th of December. I had been thinking about it for some time and decided to not wait until the new year, as my new philosophy is that you don’t have to wait for a significant date to challenge yourself.

So here I sit, 31 days later, with a coffee by my side and a smoke soon to be rolled, as I consider going back onto social media.

Now my initial plan was to get off Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit and 4chan. I found before going off-line that I would wake up and, if I didn’t have to get up for anything in particular, just browse these apps on my phone for hours. I might wake up at 6 AM, but I wouldn’t get out of bed until 10, too busy consumed by flicking through photo’s and thoughts, lols and wtfs.

My close friends know what I’m like. I’ll often lurk 4chan, on the hunt for a funny photo to send to a group Whatsap chat. I don’t have a tv, and I get most of my (somewhat less biased) news from Reddit. I browse Instagram, looking at interesting photos of things that often don’t really help my life. I get tagged in funny photos/movies almost daily on Facebook, and it also helps me keep up to date with events and friends overseas. I’ve found myself scrolling through Facebook mindlessly though, searching for who knows what but unable to turn it off until I reach posts I have already seen. I sporadically go on Snapchat, but often forget about it. I had a Twitter account and occasionally get on it to enter competitions, but I’ve never really used it. All in all, even though I don’t have a tv and some people might consider my social media use to be minimal, I’m still very much plugged in, spending hours each day on these things.

And the one thing I’m wasting is the most precious commodity I have, my time.

Sure, I enjoy browsing social media, I wouldn’t do it so often if I didn’t. But there’s a whole lot of stuff I could be doing if I got up and about instead.

The first day I started off by deleting Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram from my phone. It seemed like the best way to not constantly get updates. I didn’t realise it until the next day, but I’m signed up to get notifications via email from Facebook if I don’t go online, and the only way to switch this off is to log onto Facebook. I started getting daily emails telling me what I had waiting for me. It looked like this after day one.

1

In case you were wondering, I have had my Facebook set to pirate since about 2007 or 2008. When I realised you could set your language to pirate, I saw no reason to continue using English.

As for the email notifications, I think the pokes are from a long time ago. As I often use Facebook on my phone I haven’t been aware of them, so I didn’t really care too much about them. The group updates and message though, that was something I was interested in. One of the last messages I had sent was chatting to a friend who had gone to South America, and so I figured it was him replying, probably something as simple as “cool dude, talk soon”. I’ll find out shortly if that was right or not when I go back online.

The second day began, and it was nice to wake up and just lie in bed collecting my thoughts instead of sponging on new ones. I still had Whatsap, so I could keep in touch with a lot of people and if anything major happened I was still in the loop so to speak. I considered getting rid of it too, but I decided that Whatsap doesn’t count as social media. I confirmed this by googling it and finding out it’s a “cross messaging platform”, so I was happy I could still talk to close friends online.

But the second day this happened.

2

Like Facebook, I rarely post on Reddit. I lurk and occasionally comment but in general I leave it be. At the start I thought it was just one message, and that the Now for Reddit app was sending me notifications every half hour. But as time went on (and I was getting these updates up until midnight) it dawned on me that there was actually some activity on my reddit account.

Second day in and I’m already looking forward to going back online. It’s quite rare for me to get more than two replies to something, so when I saw this I was very curious as to what it was. My response was simple enough though.

Delete the Reddit app and move on with my life. I also deleted the 4chan app too while I was at it, as I didn’t want to accidentally click on it when I unlocked my phone and fuck up my challenge.

I kept a bit of a journal throughout the month and now that I’m at the end of it, I thought I would look back on it and reflect on everything. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with my journal; it’s in the vicinity of 15,000 words and is full of the inane ramblings of a sleep-deprived drunkard who went off social media over the Christmas/Summer holidays. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I didn’t have social media to post these thoughts to whilst I was inebriated.

One thing I did do though was type this sentence every day and attempt to answer it.

Things I would have done if I had social media 

I tried to be diligent in answering this question every day, but honestly there were so many days that rolled into the next that unless I felt strongly about something when I woke up sober, I wouldn’t have posted much at all.

So instead of typing out what happened each day, I’ll gave an overview of each week. At the end of this post I’ll also put up each day’s answer to that question.

The first week went by reasonably well. I found myself almost typing Facebook into the address bar a couple of times when I was online and doing some lazy browsing. Staying off social media isn’t a physically difficult thing to do, as no doubt you are aware. It’s the mental attitude I found harder to shake. The times when we once would have sat around and been actually “bored” or focused on a particular task suddenly came back. But only after I’d discovered I was deceiving myself.

I’ll be honest with you, I browse social media when I’m on the toilet. To the point where if I’m reading a really good article or thread, I’ll consider a sit-down wee. But with no social media I instead browsed Gumtree and Ebay during that first week, resulting in me buying a queen sized mattress, a sleigh bed, a projector, and a keyboard case to turn into a pedalboard case. This was in the 5 days leading up to New Years Eve. I also contemplated getting a radio transmitter, second laptop charger, external hard-drive, an iPhone, a ps4, 4×10 bass cab (then an 8×10 bass cab), Fitbit HR, Rocko’s modern life dvd set, UE Boom bluetooth speaker and oh so many guitar pedals.

I knew I didn’t suddenly have anymore money. I would just compulsively pull out my phone, get an idea, and start browsing the only apps now available to me. Or google something incessantly, reading product reviews of all the above mentioned items. But there were positives in that first week.

Instead of looking up Reddit when I woke up, I would actually get out of bed. Instead of finding myself tired but stuck searching for dank memes on 4chan at 3 am, I read more books and fell asleep at a more reasonable hour. I hesitate to call myself a musician, but I play and create music almost daily. I certainly found myself playing a lot more over this past month, to the point where I created and almost uploaded an album of loud guitar feedback orientated songs, interspaced with voice messages from missed calls when I was experiencing altered states of consciousness and unable to answer. That is to say, I was hungover and asleep.

To give some context to what the world was doing during this first week, day 5 was New Years Eve, so a lot of people were off work and enjoying their holidays. With me still using my phone and Whatsap, I managed to find myself out and about drunk quite frequently during this time. A lot of that first week is a blur, with an entry on the 1st about how I am actually rather glad I don’t have social media to deal with as well as my numbed out, thought blocking brain. I couldn’t type anything of this calibre that day, but I did decide it would be a good idea to record a monologue of me talking in homage to Hunter S in the hope that a seed of wisdom would sprout.

No such thing happened.

Looking back, during the first week, I wasn’t really missing social media. I was playing a lot of music and spending time with friends. The biggest thing I missed about social media was actually Reddit, as I wanted to have a discussion about a new guitar pedal I had (Boss DD-500 for anyone interested) but without Reddit I didn’t know where to go. I eventually signed up to thegearpage in a quest for answers, but forums just aren’t the same as Reddit.

Onwards to the second week.

Here’s what my emails said by the end of week 2 (Day 14)

3

The second week was tough. It started out alright, the first 4 days. I even wrote on day 9 “Things I would have done if I had social media? No idea. I don’t miss it”. Fool that I am, it’s always when we feel at our strongest that we are at our weakest, or so my continuing attempts to quit smoking keep pointing out.

The reason I suddenly felt out of touch was because I watched the Netflix series making a murderer with my friend Matty. As we marathoned sode after sode, he started to tell me how anonymous was getting involved. About how 4chan and reddit were going crazy with conspiracy theories and anger-prompted posts. I felt torn then, I really wanted to go online and see what all the fuss was about. Knowing how short the internets attention span is, I also knew that by the time I went online, most of the initial force would have gone, with Avery becoming something akin to Kony.

But as I reminded myself, the point of a challenge is exactly that, for it to be challenging. I wouldn’t gain anything from going online, I would only be proving to myself that I can’t finish something I’ve set out to do. There’s nothing gained by me going offline, except for some foolish self-deception of having achieved something. It’s not a life changing experience, it’s just something to do.

Also during this second week I was missing Facebook for a much more simple reason. I wanted to get in contact with Partridge Guitars, as Justin is hopefully going to be building me a guitar. I have been planning this with him for a good 2 or 3 years now, and I almost sent him a message before I went offline. But I also have recently gotten a fretless bass guitar and have been messing around with different strings on it, so I’ve sated my “need” for a new instrument for now. But I really did want to get in touch with him and just touch base in case he went offline. You know gut instincts? Well I had that happen and I didn’t listen to it. I’ll find out when I log back on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the 9 messages I’ve got is from him.

One last thing I would have done, I probably would have added or at least looked up DJ Khaleed on Snapchat. My friend Daniel showed it to me, and I couldn’t believe it. Ridiculous but positive, I am unsure if I think he’s a genius or an idiot.

Onto week 3.

Here’s what my email told me on day 21

4

Week 3 passed. I had 4 jams in 5 days, so productive from a musical point of view. I also recorded everything and edited it, in-between working the odd shift here and there. I work casual and am quite lucky that I don’t have to work full time for my lifestyle these days. As for social media, there were 2 significant events that happened.

The first was David Bowie dying. I’m not a huge Bowie fan, but sometime late last year he brought out the videoclip for the song Blackstar. That has been my go to song for the last few months, and I was really looking forward to the new album that came out on the 8th. When my friend Scott got my attention post-jamming with Sam, he said “David Bowie is dead, I know you won’t believe me but it’s true”. He was right, I didn’t believe him until I’d looked it up myself, and I was a bit stunned. Not heartbroken or shattered or anything, but there was that moment of disbelief. It was something I would have posted about on Facebook for sure, and also read everyone’s thoughts on the loss of him.

In some ways I’m glad I avoided all of that. For me it was a moment, which I then moved on from. Sure, David Bowie got talked about more often in conversation, but I didn’t have to scroll through sadness before I got out of bed the next morning.

The other event was Alan Rickman dying. My ex was a huge fan, in a kind of disturbing way which I liked. I found out he died when I went online to look up a guitar pedal before I went to sleep one night, and there was a news thing at the bottom of the Bing page. Ok, so I wasn’t looking up a guitar pedal, I was changing the search settings on Bing from moderate to off, but either way I saw Alan Rickman had died and was again stunned. I would have posted her a message on Facebook then and there, as we do still talk occasionally but it was too late to be sending her a message to her phone.

But, as I reflected later about both of these issues, what would my motivation be for posting on Facebook? Why would I want to post about David Bowie or Alan Rickman? Sure, I knew who they were, but neither of them really impacted my life to any great degree. Is it some kind of self deception? Am I posting this in a way to show off that I’ve found out this information before anyone else? That I’m “ahead of the trend”? Or is it instead genuine sympathy that, in David Bowies case, I had just started getting into his music and then he died? I think it’s important to know oneself, and I did gain some insight into this by my lack of posting.

The final thing that I missed out on that week was purely social. One of the 15 group updates, I later found out, was about a 30th birthday party that was on the Saturday night. I had copied down any important dates prior to going offline, and I got Will’s number and messaged him on Whatsap during the week to get details of his party. Then when I actually went to the party, I discovered that it was in fact smart casual. Nothing major, except I rocked up in a band tshirt and scuffed/ripped pants, my usual attire, whereas everyone else had on shirts and pants and that kind of thing. He had posted about the dress code only that day, but it appeared that almost everyone “got the memo” except me. Luckily, alcohol is my friend in those kinds of situations, and within 3 beers things like attire and social niceties were in the back of my mind.

Week 4

Week four and I again didn’t miss it too much. Most of the days there wasn’t anything I wanted to post about, and as I’m more of a lurker with reddit and 4chan, it’s mainly the entertainment factor I was missing. When I worked a nightshift for instance, it would have been nice to browse through some subs whilst I had some time to spare. Instead of that, I had to self occupy and I had forgotten my book. Oh woe is me isn’t it, my poor, hard life. I guess not having social media made me reflect on what I would be doing if I worked a different job, and that alone was comforting.

But I often have a habit when I work of looking up things to buy. I forget that the money I’m earning during the shift is essentially already spent on food and rent, and I instead start dreaming about what I will buy when I get paid. In this case, it was guitar pedals. And that was almost my downfall. As I was researching a pedal, I clicked on a link before I actually read what the address was and, sure enough, I realised it was Reddit a moment later. I hit back and didn’t go onto the page, but it reminded me that I have to be more diligent and can’t just relax and click on anything anymore.

There were 3 things I would have posted throughout the week. The first would have been a rant about people driving slowly in the right hand lane, as that has been bugging me from christmas. I don’t gain anything from posting something like that though. Some likes? Someone providing an anecdote that collaborates with my view on bad drivers? It’s all kind of pointless really.

The second thing would have been more creative. Scott and I set up some guitar pedals with a phone attached, and then called Alan, our fellow Drone Hell member. We then ran his voice through the effects and loops and he heard that played back at him. It was pretty funny, Scott was laughing so much he couldn’t get off the floor. If I had Facebook, I just would have posted call me, and seen what happened.

The third thing I wanted to share with the world was eye opening. I went to Sugarmountain Festival and got my mind blown by Kate Tempest. I’ve spent the last year going and seeing bands that I don’t know; I really think it’s a good experience to just have no prior expectations and let someone take you away with their performance. Kate Tempest was next level. She yelled at us for 10 minutes at the end, reciting a combination of poems into this one giant theme. I had rocked up to the festival after having looked at one of her song and decided to check out english hip hop instead of some stale, kind of predictable 80’s esque rock. Fucking wow. I would have been a huge fanboy if I had access to Facebook that day, as I was well into my cups by the time the show ended.

The final few days

So these last few days I haven’t missed social media at all. If I was going to post anything, it would be a track from Kate Tempest just to share her with the some of the world.

Here’s what my email said this morning.

5

One interesting thing I noticed was that the emails were inconsistent. I was watching the number of “warnin’ shots” grow rapidly at the start, but then suddenly it hovered around 96, and would not reach 100. It’s even dropped down to 95 in the most recent email. It’s also suddenly come up with 1348 portrait claims. What the fuck? I know I look interesting and people want to take photo’s of me, but that’s pretty excessive.

I’m sitting outside, the sun is shining and I’ve got a smoke rolled, I think it’s time to log back on.

……..

At the start only part of the notifications loaded. I had to keep scrolling down and viewing things so it would delete the notification and load up more. It wouldn’t load up anywhere before January 2nd, so a few things have been lost to the ether. As for the notifications, there was a lot of bullshit and some funny stuff too. Lots of events I’ve missed and more coming up. The message I got on that first day was a friend telling me about an interesting musical instrument Facebook group, and none of the other messages were life changing. My gut instinct was right about one thing though, the guitar page has been deleted in that month I was away and I have no idea what is happening there.

I think I need a break from Facebook again though, I started to see videos and click bait within 20 minutes. I had a bit of a scroll, saw some funny shares and stuff but all in all, blah, not missing much at all.

*Update

It’s the next day, just went 11:11. I’ve had social media back for about 24 hours, even if I didn’t get onto Facebook for a while I did check out Reddit & 4chan early on.

My impression? It’s like falling back into the arms of someone you know you shouldn’t be with.

I felt a bit drowsy last night around 1:30 so I went to bed. I then lay in bed till past 3 am browsing 4chan, looking for funny pictures but instead reading somewhat mysogonistic bullshit. Not cool. I then woke up late and feeling like shit, so I went back onto 4chan to see what was happening after a sleep. A month off can work like a “circuit break” but it’s then up to the individual to recognise these patterns of behaviour and do something about them.

I’m recognising that I should browse Reddit and 4chan less, and that for me, they are much more appealing than Facebook.

Here’s the day by day answer to the following question.

Things I would have done if I had social media 

Day 1. I would have shared a link of Alan’s Electric I footage. He filmed them playing a song on my birthday and at the end Mauro says happy birthday Fuzzy. That was pretty cool.

Day 2. I would have added Mauro to Instagram and checked out what the fuck these Reddit messages are. *As it turns out, they were about a post I put up in a guitar pedal subreddit about getting the Boss DD-500 pedal. Each message I’d gotten was an individual update, not just something generated from the app, so there was a fair bit of reading to catch up on.

Day 3. At this stage nothing except for check to see what these email updates are about. I haven’t created something and put it on the net, so I don’t feel obliged to share anything online. Maybe I’d post that cartoon I saw about climate change, I had intended to do that before I went offline.

climatesummit

*here’s the cartoon. I did not make this.

Day 4. Checked Alan’s link for a song he sent me on Facebook. He messaged me telling me to check it out, and I couldn’t cause I didn’t want to go onto Facebook.

Day 5. I’d be curious to see who the friend requests are (I had 2 friend requests by then). Otherwise though, meh. Oh and the group updates. And the messages. The warnin shots will be just me being tagged in funny videos and stuff most likely (I had 37 warnin shots). If that’s day 5, what’s this going to be like in another 27 days?

If I had social media I’d also probably have posted something about my bed or the projector. Did I even mention that? I bought a fucking projector! Got it working late last night pissed before I went to bed.

Day 6. Posted about the song I uploaded onto Soundcloud. (If anyone is interested, you can listen to it up the top or open it in a new window). At the moment I don’t think I’ve had any listens apart from me to see if it works. I’ll give it some time and see what happens (at time of writing it’s had 5 plays in 25 days). Part of me is happy I can’t share it, so I’ll see if people randomly find it. Part of me also is tempted to never post about it on Facebook, and just let people find it in their own way.

Day 7. To be honest, I didn’t miss it at all today. I was busy doing stuff and I didn’t have time to spare. Would have been good to have it so I could have looked up bands I’d liked on Facebook to see if they had any gigs on that night.

Day 8. Probably not much. I’d have spent some time browsing it on the couch or in bed instead of doing something else. Actually no, I’d have posted about the DD-500 on Reddit and possibly gotten an answer. Instead I’m contemplating signing up to the gear page just so I can find out about this pedal.

Day 9. No idea. I don’t miss it.

Day 10. I would have used Reddit at times but instead I read my book. Like I lay down for a nap and reached for my phone, before remembering there wasn’t anything on it… even though I’ve still got internet on it and thus everything. I did look stuff up but not as compulsively. The other thing I would have done was looked up the DD-500 on Reddit and tried to learn about the presets.

Day 11. I’d had gone on Reddit and probably Facebook. I would have posted a photo of Matty’s  perfectly rolled smoke. I should have gotten a photo, it was great. I would only have checked Facebook cause I’m curious who these messages are from, and where Justin Partridge is at. He probably hasn’t messaged me, but he might have. Still 20 days to go though (it turns out my gut instinct was right, because he has pulled his page off Facebook and I haven’t been able to get in contact with him as yet). I also would have posted this thought to AskReddit “would insomnia be considered a skill in a zombie apocalypse?”

Day 12. Fuck. This was one of the first days that I really really found it hard. I’m no SJW. But I have fucking empathy. Knowing that there were probably raids going on, theories being spun, just knowing the internet and how fast our culture moves made me kick myself I wasn’t on Reddit. I was close to going fuck it, I’ll just use Reddit or 4 chan but no Facebook, but ultimately I’d be cheating myself. That’s the point of the challenge, it’s not meant to be easy. When I eventually do get back online, I’m guessing that a lot of the hype and drive will have gone out of it, and the internet culture will be onto the next big thing. It’s unfortunately how our society works. Steven Avery will become the next Kony, forgotten within a couple of months.

Luckily I still have the internet so I could still research theories, but I almost Accidently clicked some reddit links just from a Google search.

Day 13. I would have been looking up murderer theories on Reddit, as well as checked my Facebook stuff. I’ve really got a lot of stuff lined up now, and some of them are to do with events or group chats or something that I’m curious about.

Day 14. I would have added this dude on Snapchat, as it’s intriguing. I also would have looked at Facebook, as I’ve got 81 warnin shots or some shit, and it’s been 2 weeks now.

Day 15. Possibly nothing. I can’t think of anything in particular I would have wanted to do today online. Maybe started a group chat with Ryan, Kimmy, Scott and I. That would be about it though.

Day 16. I probably would have known David Bowie died a bit earlier. Sam and I were in a jam and when we finished Scott told us. That was sad and unexpected, as he has just released his new album Blackstar on the 8/1. I’m probably going to get it I reckon. If I had social media I would have posted something about that and looked it up on Reddit.

I also would have messaged Will on Facebook and worked out the details of his party. I messaged him on Whatsap though and got the details so it’s all good.

Day 17. Nothing that I can remember

Day 18. Browsed it looking stuff up, mainly Reddit.

Day 19. Left a post on Tegans wall about Alan Rickman.

Day 20. I may have found out about the gig being on earlier and not missed the Electric I’s set.

Day 21. Not gone to that fucking party underdressed! I had brought down my pants with rips in the back from being too long and a t shirt, nothing too offensive but some band or something. Then when Dave picks me up, he is in a shirt and Emma is in a white dress. I comment and say wow, you guys are dressed up and then Dave said it was smart casual, said Will updated the Facebook thing earlier that day. If I had social media, I would have known. Very first world problem I know, but it makes me realise how quick we all operate as a society these days. I never thought I’d care about what I wore to a party, I’m definitely 30 now I guess.

Day 22. Nothing that I can think of

Day 23.  I would have researched guitar builders and pedal builders. There’s nothing I want to post and share with the world right now, I just want to do my thing without distractions. Truth be told, I don’t even miss it, just occasionally when I want to send someone a message on Facebook or if I’m waiting for something it’s great to have Reddit in my pocket.

Day 24. I would have browsed Reddit while at work. And checked out Facebook, by now there must be heaps of stuff to catch up on. But then again, I’m getting a lot of stuff done by not constantly wasting time on it, so I’m happy I couldn’t. I might have posted something about people driving in the right lane and how they are shit drivers.

Day 25.  Not much really. Nothing to post. Maybe put up a comment “call me” and seen if anyone called me while I had the phone hooked up, tried to fuck with people and make some funny recordings.

Day 26. Would have clicked on a website that was talking about pedals. I looked it up and a link was for Reddit, I didn’t realise till I had clicked it. I hit back before it loaded, but it looked like it could have been a wealth of knowledge. So be it.

Day 27. Possibly made a Facebook page for our band, the Yoghurt Painters. Just like a group chat where we could all collate and talk so it’s not just Whatsap.

I also would have gone on Reddit, as I didn’t bring a book to work. I’ve got my comp and that’s it. I only brought work pants down at the last minute, as I did not expect to get called in.

Day 28. Fucking Kate Tempest. I would have posted about her, raved on about her, found youtube clips, anything. Also would have posted to see who was coming to sugar mountain.

Day 29. Posted Kate Tempest stuff.

Day 30. No idea, nothing in particular

Day 31. Posted patterns by Kate temple. Fuck it’s amazing.

The only thing that I still would be tempted to post about a month later from that first week is the song I created and uploaded to soundcloud. But I’m not going to post it anywhere but this blog. Hopefully someone actually finds it one day, as I think that song kicks arse.

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One thought on “My month without social media

  1. Pingback: Writing a book in a month | Soundscrape

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