I’ve been on a social media diet lately, for all the usual reasons. Too much negativity. People talking without listening. Fake news. The usual garbage.
And I’ve seen the same results others have. More productivity. Less mood swings. Much slower to judge people in real life for things they say online. More time to spend actually conversing with family and friends.
There’s definitely a downside. I’ve missed out on a lot of actual good stuff from people I genuinely care about, but I’ve gained a lot back too.
None of this is really new to anyone who has ever reined in a social media addiction.
There’s something else though. Something I hadn’t quite expected that’s proving to be really fucking cool.
I don’t care what people think about things any longer.
Or, let me phrase that differently.
I’ve stopped seeking validation of my own thoughts from smarter, or louder people.
I’ve always had my own thoughts…”Trump has a urine fetish…that’s gross and a reason for snarky banter,” for example. Then I would run to Twitter to see what people I looked up to thought. If they seemed to agree with my sentiments, I felt validated. Safe.
“Oh good, (insert name of writer at random internet publication here) agrees with me. He even made a joke about Trump’s gold obsession.”
And I would feel better.
If they disagreed, or took a different spin, I felt betrayed. In some cases I changed my mind, but only after some serious mental gymnastics.
This little pursuit of validation was a comfort mechanism. I did it to feel like I was keeping step with the tribe.
In reality, it was the same confirmation bias that disgusts me about the Fox News/MSNBC crowd. I didn’t want to hear the truth, I wanted to hear “you’re right,” whether it was true or not.
I recognize it now, and I can stop myself. Most of the time.
It’s really, really hard to be left alone with your own thoughts and opinions. I know why most people in this country don’t apply a ton of rigor to their personal belief systems.
I don’t blame them. It’s hard to be unclear about where you stand. Whose team you’re on.
It’s weird to wake up one day and realize you believe the exact opposite of what you did yesterday. And that some of your tribe (or even your family) is going to be disappointed.
But it’s good, and should be encouraged. Screw what other people think. Do you. Respect all thoughtful positions but decide ultimately for yourself.
Stoicism makes for a boring social media feed.
I go on Twitter maybe once a day. I haven’t logged into my Facebook in a month. When I think of it, I pop open Instagram on occasion.
I may never be crazy active on social media like I once was. For now this feels really good.
But when I do go back into it, it’s with a clarity and sober consciousness that I’ve never experienced before.
And I don’t need anyone else to tell me that’s okay.