Swanson: Logging Off

By Gavin Swanson, Opinion Writer

As people living in the digital age, it has become almost required to be active on social media. Facebook has been around for more than a decade, and with the explosion of popularity with Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, social media has more involvement in our everyday lives. For most of us, this isn’t a problem. We all know why we use social media. There’s a nearly addicting draw to sharing your life with others and vice versa. It also allows us to engage with organizations and people we would have never had the access to engage with had it not been for social media.

There are a lot of reasons to engage and participate in social media, but there are times where you find people who don’t use it in a world where even older generations at least have a Facebook profile. I often find myself being this person.

I have a spotty history of using social media. I used Facebook in middle school and dropped it shortly before my freshman year of high school. I picked it up again and made a new profile toward the end of high school, but shortly dropped it again. I had a Twitter account for about two years of high school before deleting it, I made a new one senior year of high school and used it through my time at college before dropping it a few weeks ago. I only created a Snapchat account less than a year ago and dropped it a few weeks ago. I’ve never made an Instagram, Myspace, Tumblr or whatever else has come up or is coming up.

I have such a hard time keeping a presence online because I find it stressful and annoying. To be fair, it’s not always that, most of the time it isn’t, but when it is, I find it to be more trouble than it’s worth. I’m sure any one of us can recall an annoying post or thread on Facebook or Twitter that annoyed you or made you so upset it ruined your day. A vague or passive aggressive quip at someone, an ignorant and uninformed opinion, another rant you know nobody cares about aside from the poster. Do the benefits of social media really outweigh all that it does to get on your nerves?

Maybe you’re this poster. I know how tempting it is to go on social media and post and tweet when you’re in a bad mood. You hate these posts when you see them made by acquaintances, friends and family members  —  but when it’s you that has the bad day or hot take, you find a way to justify posting it, only to regret it later. Sure you can clean things up the morning after, but you’re aware people have seen what you wrote and have seen the edgy side you try to hide.

For me, a big detractor of social media is the one thing people intentionally use it for. I find it disheartening to always be aware of where people are and what they’re doing. This was my problem with Snapchat, because it is a vessel for people to walk you through their day. Back when Facebook was becoming popular, people began pointing out how it may be unhealthy, because it allows you to compare your life with the lives people choose to make public. This is especially a problem on a platform like Snapchat. It was disheartening to go through stories on a lazy Saturday evening where you see people out doing things while you’re just sitting at home watching Netflix.

This is not to paint social media as some destructive force that is ruining lives. Most people can use social media without getting annoyed or hurt, and power to those people. If you feel like your social media use is healthy and it makes you happy, then I encourage you to continue to use it. However, if you think it brings out the worst in you or is a negative element in your life, consider taking a break. I’m not saying never log back into Twitter again, but maybe take a few weeks or months to step away and remove it from your life. I left both my Twitter and Snapchat accounts active in the case I wish to make the return in the future. For now, I’m enjoying the disconnect and the liberty that goes with not having to check every notification and knowing everything about everyone to focus on myself.

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@TheChrony