The Social Detox Diet

You’re hungry for a real social experience. Yes, even if you’ve spent the last few hours hooked on your phone. You know how I know this?

Because you’re still doing it!

It is ENDLESS. Just when I end up scrolling to the top of the twitter page, or the Facebook page, it gives me a notification that there is just one more new update. Just. One. More.

To be honest, most of it is depressing, even if it isn’t depressing. I know…you’re on a beach enjoying the weather while I’m in cold Canada. That’s great, you look like Henry Cavill or a Victoria’s Secret Supermodel while you’re on the beach. I’m trying to get there. What’s that? Another 10 THINGS EVERY 20 YEAR OLD NEEDS TO DO NOW TO MAKE A MILLION DOLLAR ABS article? Crap, I’d like million dollar abs, and I guess I need to do this. Oh no! I don’t do most of the things on this list!!!!

Every Snapchat requires a response.

It’s making us insane. It’s a steady diet of junk that means nothing.

I get it though. “That’s how friends communicate,” you say. “You’re being anti-social!!!”

But I quit Facebook late in August 2013. I haven’t been on since. I like it. I quit Snapchat. I like it. I browse instagram on my computer, and not on my phone so there is impulsiveness to share. I like it. Steve describes it beautifully:

Facebook creates a false and unsatisfying sense of socializing.

Being active on Facebook had the effect of filling my social bucket. But it was essentially a false fill, like drinking salt water instead of fresh water. Instead of providing a real sense of connection that satisfies, it made me think I was out there being social, but I’d still be “hungry” afterwards. Facebook activity could never recharge my batteries in the way that face to face interaction could.

When I dropped Facebook, I began feeling genuinely more social when I’d go out. Even when running errands, I’d notice myself chatting and joking around with people more often. When I was active on Facebook, I wouldn’t do that as much because I had the false sense that I was being social by interacting with my online posse.

KNOWING ABOUT someone through their updates is not the same as KNOWING them. And pictures and videos cannot capture the distinction. I’d now like to share with you a few other points that have resonated deeply with me. By the way, you can replace Facebook with MOST other social networking sites.

Facebook communication is mostly low-priority noise.

When I dropped Facebook, I noticed that the communication volume in my life dropped significantly. However, I felt no drop in the level of significant and meaningful communication. What I seemed to lose was mostly a lot of noise.

Generally speaking, communicating via Facebook is a shallow experience. You read streams of brief messages from a variety of people, but the messages don’t contain much depth. Most are trivial and mundane. Some are clever or witty. Very little of the information you’ll digest on Facebook is memorable and life-changing. Using Facebook can still give you a feeling of connectedness, but the long-term benefits are negligible.

Facebook essentially gives you the emotional sense that you’re doing something worthwhile (i.e. connecting with people), but when you step back and look at your actions and results from a more objective perspective, it becomes clear that you’re really just spinning your wheels.

Friends lose their individuality and become part of a collective.

Facebook compacts so much communication into a single stream, and this can have a depersonalizing effect. As I continued to use the service to interact with people en masse, I gradually began thinking of my online friends as a network, stream, or blob, as opposed to valuing each person as a unique individual.

When I’d post a status update, who was the intended recipient? Which friend was I updating? In truth I wasn’t sharing with anyone in particular. I was simply sharing with the collective.

If I posted something on a friend’s wall, I wasn’t just communicating with that friend. I was communicating with their posse too. If I used the private messaging feature, it was just one message among dozens. Friends were becoming like interchangeable drones.

Facebook is computer interaction, not human interaction.

The reality of using Facebook is that you’re just typing and viewing insignificant bits of information on a digital device (computer, cell phone, iStuff, etc).

The next time you use such a service, pause for a moment and do a reality check. What are you actually doing? Who’s with you? How is this advancing your life? What if you do this for 20 more years? What do you expect to gain from it?

You can call it social networking, but it’s not really a social experience if you’re actually alone sitting at a computer. Real socialization is face to face.

There’s a tremendous richness to in-person socialization that just doesn’t translate over the Internet, at least not yet.

A ***hug*** isn’t a real hug. A smiley isn’t a real smile. All you’re doing is pushing buttons.

I’ll go so far as to say that Facebook isn’t social networking. It’s anti-social retreating.

If you want to disagree with me about this, you’ll have say it to my face. If you try to tell me off by typing something on a digital device, you’re only proving me right. Evil, I know.

Facebook is ruled by addicts.

This is probably obvious, but the Facebook “friends” that you’ll interact with most frequently will tend to be those who are the most addicted. They post more status updates and comments because they spend a lot of time on the service. So you end up giving the most attention to those who are the greatest addicts.

In short, you end up spending the most time interacting with the people who are the worst influences — highly unproductive people who don’t value their time. This can have many adverse effects, such as causing you to become more addicted to the service and to feel the urge to post more often just for the sake of posting.

If your strongest connections on Facebook are the most addicted, how is that going to influence you over time? The closer you become with those people, the more you’ll get sucked into spending more time on the service.

After I left Facebook, I asked myself, Should I really be giving so much attention to the greatest social networking addicts?

While even the biggest addicts can be very intelligent, helpful, and growth-oriented, their addiction tends to sap their ambition, causing them to make little forward progress in life. It should come as no surprise that many of these people are financially stagnant. It’s hard to improve your finances when you devote so much time to non-income generating activities each day.

So if you’re still reading this (and have you noticed that our attention spans are getting shorter because we are getting used to consuming only bite sized bits of information?), here’s my challenge: socialize in real life.

If you’re a passive reader of this site and we haven’t met, send me an email at dpvtank@gmail.com or leave a comment. I’d like to walk the talk and connect to more people in a real individual way.

In the meanwhile, consider going on a media detox.

I’m a big advocate of testing. If you’re an active Facebook user, and you go 30 days without it, you’ll gain a much clearer understanding of its role in your life. In my case it was obvious within a few days that the benefits I got from using it weren’t worth the effort, but there were other subtleties I didn’t notice until weeks later.

If you can’t do it, then it becomes clear that these tools are ruling you. Are you really in charge then? Despite how connected you are, aren’t you dependent on the number of likes, favs, or retweets you get? So are you in control?

Test it out. Try it out for 2 weeks. No social media. And let me know how it goes.

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