How To Stay Social Without Social Networks
In a world where it seems like everybody is on social networks, Leo Jay Shire presents how to break up with social networks without breaking up with your friends.
Full disclosure: I am both addicted to and terrified of the Internet. I spend hours of my day on it and usually have at least one social media tab open. But I’ve always been a little freaked out by social networks. I mean, people put their whole lives on there. We’ve all got mini biographies of our entire lives floating about on the World Wide Web. After reading Lottie Moggach’s ‘Kiss Me First’, a book about a woman who fakes another woman’s online presence after she dies, and seeing Rookie Mag’s informative (read: terrifying) breakdown of popular social network’s privacy policies, I’m officially spooked by social networks. But if I get rid of it, I’m paranoid that my social life will go with it. So, for my own benefit and yours, I’ve written a guide on how to stay social without social networks.
1) Ease yourself out gently
We’re the generation that grew up with social media always being around.
- If you’re really attached to your social network accounts, going cold turkey straight away might be too intense. After all, we’re the generation that grew up with social media always being around. We don’t know anything else. Why not set yourself small challenges? Try a day without checking Facebook, or delete all the social media apps from your phone so that you can only check them when you’re at a computer. Gradually increase the length you spend away from social media, so that finally reaching the ‘delete all’ stage isn’t so daunting.
2) Embrace the phone call
- You know those friends you have that you obsessively Snapchat and Whatsapp? I’m going to chuck an idea out there: how about, you know, actually ringing them? I know that phone calls can be a source of anxiety for many people (myself included) and sending Facebook chats and Snapchat pictures is an easy way of interacting without stressing over what your voice sounds like, awkward silences, or leaving a voicemail. That said, chatting on the phone to someone you feel comfortable with is a really nice way to spend half an hour. It also keeps relationships strong. Imagine how touched you’d be if a friend rang you for no other reason than just to see how you were doing. And, if you’re on the phone, you’ll be too occupied to stress over the fact you haven’t checked your social networks in a while.
3) Invest in a journal
Getting in touch with your inner self might make you feel more comfortable in social situations.
If you’re a blogger, you’ll be used to writing down your everyday thoughts and feelings. So get a diary. Yeah, it won’t replicate the same feeling that people are listening to what you have to say and it’s not going to bring friends running towards you, but getting in touch with your inner self might make you feel more comfortable in social situations (and will also be fun for your future self to re-read in ten years time when they’re utterly embarrassed by present you. It’s an inevitable fate for us all: our future selves think we’re losers). Similarly, if you’re an Instagram fanatic, buy a digital camera. Post pictures in a scrapbook. Most forms of social media didn’t come out of thin air, they’ve been inspired by real-world practices that we’re, well, out of practice of.
4) Find a hobby
Go out and do things with actual human beings.
When I get home the first thing I’ll do is check my laptop, or my phone, or both. I will check Twitter, then Facebook, then Instagram, then I’ll check them all again. And probably again. Imagine all the time that could be saved if I just… didn’t? I always kid myself that I only spend so much time on social networks because I have nothing else to do. This is a lie. I have nothing else to do because I’m spending all my time on social networks. Giving them up is a good excuse to pick up something new. Take up a sport. Learn a new instrument. Buy some crayons and draw. Join a club. Go out and do things with actual human beings, instead of creeping on the online ones.
5) Get to know your paperboy
Twitter is my main news source. If I didn’t look at my timeline for a week I’d only have a vague idea about what was going on outside of my own life. Without social media it’s easy to feel disconnected from what’s going on in the world, but it doesn’t need to be like that. Humans have been sharing news for centuries without trouble. Instead of relying on a newspaper’s Twitter feed, why not head down to your local corner shop and arrange for your newspaper to be delivered? Admittedly, newspapers are quite pricey (spending £1.50 a day adds up) so alternatively, bookmark your favourite news sites on your web browser or even your favourite Twitter users (just don’t sign up for an account).
This might sound like a stupid tip, but I think it’s the most valuable. Most of us are completely out of practice when it comes to socialising sans social networks. When was the last time you had a conversation without checking your phone once, or went round a friends’ and rang their doorbell instead of texting them that you were outside the door, or even just held eye contact with someone for the whole time you were talking? Staying social without social networks means re-vamping the way you communicate. They say it takes 21 days for behaviour to become a habit, so keep at it.
Will you ever give up social networks? Have you given it up already? Perhaps you’ve never had it in the first place. If you do plan to follow this guide, tweet us a goodbye before you leave @rifemag