AI Generated Image of a Garbage Truck dumping social media icons into a landfill.

The Purge

It’s been about 10 years since I deleted by Facebook account and now just about a month since I removed the Instagram app from my smartphone. My last remaining social networks are YouTube and LinkedIn. Occasionally, I’ll search for or contribute answers on Reddit, which I’ve found to be the Internet’s User Guide to the World.

Since deleting these networks I’ve found that I spend more time reading trusted media outlets like my local newspaper (The Tennessean), The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Economist. Most of these outlets no longer offer comment threads which helps me avoid the poison of cynicism, hate, and prejudice rampant in social networks.

When I was in college, The Facebook seemed like a promising platform to connect others, share plans, and learn more about one another. However, in order to pay the bills, its ad sales required it to spur behavior and addiction and since then it has devolved into what it is today. That said, it still provides tremendous value for millions of users, still connecting them over extensive time and distance.

While Instagram served as a fair “in-between” for me, I found over the last year that I was engaging less and less with the people I care about and more with countless memes and humorous clips engineered to captivate my attention. This was great for Zuck’s ad platform, but not the reason I had adopted the platform nor what I most enjoyed using it for. As a test, I uninstalled Instagram from my phone several weeks ago and have found that I’m not missing anything and instead finding myself with more time to restore my attention span.

Another thing I have observed since removing Instagram is that I’m no longer approaching real-life situations as opportunities to capture content and “catch the likes.” In retrospect, Instagram had almost become a Pokemon of sorts, with me chasing likes and reactions, trying to document every single event, sunset, laugh, and smile of my family. While I’m still capturing countless photos and videos, my motivation is to preserve the memory rather than to prove to the world how much fun we’re having.

I’m gifted in my ability to travel across the continent, what my career affords me to bring to my family, and all of the enriching experiences I had in my youth. I’m hopeful that without these time sucks I will be able to spend less time-consuming content and more time creating valuable content that serves others in one way or another. This isn’t a commitment to more writing, but an exploration of a new style of exploratory writing. A test of sorts to see if this is something that helps fill the gaping hole of time previously wasted on funny video clips and things designed to rob my attention span.

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