Jay Little - Software Obsessionist
The Great Social Media Retreat

01/30/2022 21:58:21

A few weeks ago I changed my life on a whim. I deleted my Reddit and Twitter accounts. To be fair, I have deleted my Twitter account before, so perhaps that one isn't a big deal. My Reddit account on the other hand was practically a prized possession. So what caused me to delete it?

People. All of them. Myself included.

After years of battling misled Purism cultists on /r/Purism and weeks of battling LTT fanbois on Twitter over my criticism of their maligned Linux Gaming video series, I finally stumbled onto the conflict that was the straw which broke the camel's back: I strolled onto /r/Anbernic and made the mistake of blasting Anbernic because the brand new RG552 retro gaming handheld I purchased from them was totally dead on arrival.

Let's be clear: I was pissed and I had an axe to grind. My post was a rant and it's primary purpose was to help me blow off some steam. It was absolutely not meant to be constructive. But on that day, after many missed opportunities, I finally learned the most important lesson one can learn on the Internet.

People are dumb animals who form tribes. If somebody wanders into the middle of their encampment and takes a big steaming dump in the middle of it, regardless of their need or the circumstances involved, the tribe will attack. They will not be kind. They will shoot to kill.

Needless to say the thread was a train wreck and my negative responses absolutely did not help the situation. At some point while I was in the midst of typing out an exceptionally vile response to a participant who argued that my criticism of Anbernic was illegitimate because nobody had any context as to what I was doing with the device (spoiler: literally just trying to get it to power on, even once), I realized that this wasn't the kind of person I wanted to be anymore.

And yes that response is so vile, even by 4chan "standards", I won't even post it here. Needless to say I deleted the text before posting it and logged off of Reddit. It was clearly time for a break. During the next day I was chilling at the local cigar bar with a good buddy and telling him this sordid tale and he responded by telling me that he barely had any interaction with Reddit at all and he was pretty happy with that state of affairs.

That's when it hit me like a bag of bricks: I don't need to do this at all. I have spent so much time on social media platforms fighting pointless battles that at some point I forgot that this was all bullshit. So two weeks ago, right after getting home from the cigar bar, I effectively nuked both my Reddit and Twitter accounts from orbit at the same time.

The truth of the matter is that social media, in every form, makes me fucking miserable. It never starts off that way of course. It starts off by hooking into every known positive primal psychological trigger we have by giving us a sense of a belonging. It shows us groups of like minded people discussing topics we are interested in. It gets us involved in the discussion and makes us feel like we are valued and part of something.

The honeymoon period for social media is much like the first time you have a drink or smoke or indulge in some other narcotic. It seems so great and it seems to have no real downside at first. But the nasty truth is that the longer you stick around and the more involved you get, the more addicted you become. Over time, if you maintain any sense of self-awareness, you'll undoubtedly realize that there is a definite correlation between your growing misery and your daily activities.

We start to look for new content on these platforms constantly because they are engineered to keep always looking for the next new thing. On Reddit this behavior manifests in endlessly scrolling your feed, cruising /r/all or searching out new and random subreddits. Twitter is very similar in terms of looking for entities to follow rather than subreddits to join.

Two weeks after kicking social media to the curb, I find I have an absolute ton of time on my hands. It's kind of stupid honestly. I never realized how much of my time was being devoured by content harvesting or arguing with other idiots on Reddit and Twitter until I quit them both.

In addition if you've read my recent criticisms of Linus Tech Tips, you know I also used to be a huge fan of them. I spent tons of time watching their content on YouTube. Kicking them to the curb, along with a wide variety of other "Tech" YouTubers that I realize are effectively just selling us crap, freed up quite a bit more of my time. Needless to say, I'm not spending nearly as much time on YouTube nowadays either.

In any event, if you are feeling frustrated with life online, my recommendation is that you try to cut back for a little while, maybe longer. See how you like it. You might find that it is exactly what the doctor ordered. I know I did.

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