If you don’t use it, get rid of it.
I have always flirted with minimalism. For instance, I’ve never owned a microwave. This last year, however, I have really focused on removing material possessions from my life. It has included selling excess furniture that sits in unused rooms, as well as my vast CD and DVD/Blueray collection. I was surprised at how much money I made, enough to buy a new windshield for my car, an iPad, and more. The greatest benefit, though, is just how much bigger my house seems, and how much simpler things feel around here. I get it, it’s not for everyone. I am now taking on the task of decluttering my social media.
Social media has been the proverbial elephant in the room for me for a long time, taking up too much space, and me whacking my figurative knee on it every time I move. I admit I have had a tumultuous relationship with social media. I even quit all social media many years ago. The home screen on my phone never looked so empty. However, I got lured back into when I started a local outdoor club. It then became more pervasive in my life as I decided to share my photography. Soon I was on nearly every social media platform.
I recently opened up to other photographers about how they network. Most of them didn’t cite social media. In fact, most of the meaningful exchanges that I have had with other photographers stemmed from me taking the time to email them directly. It’s surprising how many responses I get, some quite lengthy. I then decided, I am going to leave Facebook (for the second time). It is a time sink, a fruitless chore, a source of anxiety, and a front for terrible advertising. Below I am going to outline why Facebook services no useful purpose in my life, and perhaps encourage you to also walk away from Facebook too.
The Emotional Minefield (aka the News Feed)
Every single day I see a stream of angry posts on Facebook, most based on racism, gun control, and political affiliation. I always find these posts disturbing, even if I am on the same side of the argument of the post. Most use vicious language, cite questionable data sources, and have a polarizing “you’re either with us or against us” stance. Since Facebook consists, for me, largely of people I actually know in real life, these posts hit even harder. One particular style of post is, “If you think/voted for (insert subject matter/politician), then you’re an idiot/evil/human garbage.” This is probably the most useless and profoundly passive aggressive thing a human being can do. Unless you have a large diverse following on social media, the only people who will see your post are your friends and family. Your post won’t have any affect on people, other than to alienate any and all of your friends who disagree with you on the topic by calling them, indirectly, horrible names.
I Won’t Miss Out on Stuff
I have, in the past, depended on Facebook to keep me updated on things, from discovering new photographers to upcoming album releases by bands I love. Over the last four months, however, I have been using an RSS reader to follow various blogs and websites. The reader (I use Feedly) places all the stuff I want to see – and only the stuff I want to see – into a wonderful magazine style layout through which I can scroll.
No One Will See My Photography
This is probably my greatest concern, but lately I have been asking myself, “Why?” Admittedly, most of my website traffic comes from Facebook, but most likes and comments on my website come from other WordPress users. It’s not about having the biggest audience, it’s about having the best audience. As someone who does not sell his services as a photographer, I can say that Facebook serves no purpose for me. After all, I shoot for me, and I would still shoot even if no one ever saw my stuff.
I Won’t Lose Contact with Friends and Family
I have a very small circle of friends and family, and you know what? I rarely, if ever, interact with them on Facebook. We keep in touch by texting and hanging out in person.
More Free Time
Finally, but most importantly, I know that by leaving Facebook, it will free up so much more time. I look forward to using this time to improve this website and my photography.
Hopefully, this has encouraged some of you to question the purpose of Facebook in your life. Still not convinced? Then check out Dr. Cal Newport’s TEDx talk on why he thinks you should quit social media. If you do follow me on Facebook, and still want to keep up, you can subscribe to this blog via email, RSS feed, or find me on Instagram.
All images shot on Portra 400 with a Nikon F100 at Cape Spear, Newfoundland, developed and scanned by Indie Film Lab.