Sunday Op-Ed: Start the year off fresh and live your own life by turning off social media

I’m gonna get on my old man soapbox this Sunday. I know I’m turning into an old curmudgeon but it is what it is and I need to speak my opinion. We just started 2018, so you still have time to make resolutions that can improve your year. Some of you are using social media way too much and you need to live your own lives.

I’m not big on social media as I think it’s a huge waste of time. It’s not that I don’t have friends (surprising right?). I have plenty of friends and family that I keep in touch with on a regular basis, but I never do it through social media. I figure if someone needs to tell me something important they will go beyond Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter to tell me. It’s not difficult considering they have my phone number and can call or text me.

Beyond letting me know about social events, I quite frankly don’t care what people are posting on their social media pages. I don’t care about photos about food, vacations, pets or even kids. I prefer to experience those things in real life and not in photos. I’ve interviewed several of my friends and family who are addicted to social media and some of the answers I got as to why they use it so much are crazy to me. They like to look at what everyone else is up to. They like to send dumb group messages to each other. They like to post about what is going on in their lives. They like to post photos of how good they look. None of this stuff really matters. Live your own life rather than wasting your precious time on Earth following what everyone else is up to.

I have friends who annoy the crap out of me when we are out to dinner and they make everyone pause when we get our food so they can get pictures, and then post them on Instagram. When did dinner become a group social event? Why do I need to wait to eat so 50 people who aren’t at the table can look at what we are eating? What happened to just enjoying quiet time over a nice meal with the people who are present?

I’m in the middle age demographic at 37 years old. That means a vast majority of my friends use Facebook, aka the “old people” social network. I regularly get asked if I viewed my friend’s vacation photos. When I respond no, because I don’t have Facebook, their response is instant that I need Facebook. I logically think to myself, why do I need Facebook? If my friends really want to show me photos, shouldn’t they take time to show me in person so we can discuss it? If the answer is no, then the photos probably aren’t that important. I’m also not the type of person to reconnect with people I haven’t talked to in 20 years. I think the time is proof that those relationships are well beyond their expiration date.

Staying on Facebook, I seriously can’t stand all the hate, politics and racism that exist in user comments. If Facebook mimicked real-world life with all of the negativity, I am 100% certain this world would have nuked itself by now. Facebook provides a route to express one’s thoughts behind a screen with no real repercussions. If someone I didn’t know walked up to me and randomly made a racist comment to my face, they’d probably get a reaction that they weren’t ready to deal with. Real life has its consequences but Facebook enables more hate and useless that simply isn’t needed in this world.

Going a step further to those who love to take pictures of themselves in the gym or on the beach showing off how great they look – stop it. It’s annoying and your lack of self-confidence is disappointing. Do you really need people to validate how good you look because you can’t accept yourself? Get some help. Love yourself and if you want to be judged on looks, you won’t go far in this world unless you’re a supermodel.

I know my viewpoints are very critical and there are positives to social media. However, for many of you, it has gone well beyond normal usage when you simply don’t even know why you need it. There have even been studies that show too much social media can increase loneliness. Some studies have shown social media can be bad for teen health. There are real consequences to overdoing social media.

Try taking a break from it. I’ve challenged several of my friends to think about why they’re on social media, and they are considering taking a break. The reality is most people probably will read this and think I’m an old man, which they might be right. However, ask yourself, is social media really doing you good? If the answer is no, you know what to do. Try picking up the phone and making a phone call for once. All of the providers offer unlimited minutes these days so call mom, dad, your brother or sister and your closest friends. See for yourself how much more gratifying real conservations are over making dumb jokes on Snapchat is.

 

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