I’m trying to delete my social media accounts but it turns out that it isn’t as straightforward as you’d think.
Like Donald Trump, freed this week from the responsibility to censure himself, I’m finding it hard to let go.
I’ve considered that it might be symptomatic of something deeper. A reluctance to end things. My family can see the connections
“You don’t finish things,” my daughter observes
“You can watch a film until the last ten minutes and then leave the room and never know what happens without worrying about it.”
“The house is littered with half-read books.”
This is also true.
“I suspect if we drilled down we’d probably find it related to some sort of death anxiety. Fear of the end,” I tell her, pushing a half-read book I borrowed from her recently under a pile of unopened letters.
A year or so ago I read a book (all of it) by Jason Lanier called “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now”. It was incredibly persuasive and, for a while, I became evangelical.
I told my children they ought to read it. My son ignored me and my daughter said,
“It sounds like the sort of book written by someone who wants their kids to stop spending so much time on their phones.”
After a week or so I’d put the book on the shelf but I had not deleted my social media accounts. Instead, I turned to Twitter to see what other people thought of it.
I’m tired of living in an echo chamber of my own opinions, although it appears that I’m not all that keen on hearing anyone else’s, especially the ones that come from people who don’t have a profile photo of themselves and a user name which hints at darkness.
I’m irritated by the bigotry and myopia. I am also frustrated by people’s insistence on answering the same question that has already been answered more than a hundred times in a thread they’ve either not read or don’t care about.
Social media makes me sad or angry but I still keep hanging around like a shameful rubber-necker at a car crash.
It’s not all bad of course.
There was the hilarious thread about Jason Clarke’s soiled chinos or the myriad photos I see of places that friends live reminding me of calmer times connecting me to something that often feels a world away.
What’s toxic is the realisation that I use social media as living punctuation.
Dipped into at the end of a task, before the beginning of another.
Aimless scrolling with adverts for products I’ve recently browsed reminding me I’m being watched.
I delete the Twitter app from my phone, and I feel uplifted.
I get rid of Facebook and Messenger, impressed with my own chutzpah.
I begin to sense freedom and a future oozing with possibility.
But before I get to the point of actually deleting the accounts themselves I get a message from my daughter which stops me in my tracks.
She’s sent me a link to an Instagram post of a Golden Retriever sprawling on a lilo in a swimming pool, and another one of a Labrador stuffing his head between two cushions to retrieve a tennis ball.