I Deleted My Social Media and Didn’t Tell Anyone (Except You)

I deleted all of my social media accounts a month ago and I didn’t tell […]

Connor Gwin / 7.15.19

I deleted all of my social media accounts a month ago and I didn’t tell anyone. 

Well, two qualifications.

First, I deleted LinkedIn (honestly, I don’t remember ever signing up for LinkedIn) and Twitter, but I only deactivated Facebook and Instagram because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and I haven’t downloaded all my pictures.

Second, I did tell my wife and now I am telling you, the Internet.

I didn’t post anything on my accounts warning people that I would soon digitally disappear in part because I wanted to be like Jesus (hello Messianic secret…), but really because my goal wasn’t attention and because no one actually cares. 

Social media promotes the lie that everyone else is very concerned with the mundane details of your life. It’s not true. People only like your pictures so that you will like theirs.

Social media also promotes the idea that everyone is on the platform and that nothing happens if it is not documented online. If you don’t have a profile, you don’t exist. If you don’t take a picture of an event, it didn’t happen. Neither of these things is true. For proof, see all of human history prior to 1997.

Before you click back over to your Facebook timeline, hear me say this: I don’t care if you have social media. “You do you,” as the motto of our zeitgeist goes. If scrolling through your high school classmates’ newest foray into the keto diet brings you joy, go for it!

Here is my (completely unoriginal) observation: social media was making me miserable and for good reason. It is scientifically developed pharisaism. It is works-righteousness that I could carry in my pocket and (metaphorically) inject directly into my bloodstream.

From the first time I logged onto a social media platform in the late aughts, I was hooked. I loved it. I loved every part of it. It lit up my dopamine receptors like the Fourth of July in a small town with a shockingly big fireworks budget.

Of course, I am prone to addiction. I’ve written about that before. I am hard-wired to love anything that alters my emotions. As the saying goes in the rooms of AA, “I’ve never met a feeling I didn’t want to change.” If I’m sad, I want to be happy. If I’m happy, I want to be happier.

And social media was the answer. It was salvation, nirvana, fulfillment.

There is nothing quite like bearing my soul in a blog post and watching the like and share numbers rise. In the days following a new post, I could be found refreshing the page over and over again to see new comments and new likes so I could feel that sweet relief of enoughness, the cool wave of dopamine washing over me. 

It was streets of gold and harp music. It was heaven.

But like everything I’m addicted to, it only works until it doesn’t. 

I realized that I had created a version of myself online that didn’t match who I actually am. I was saying things that the flesh and blood Connor Gwin would not say. I was passionate about things online that I didn’t actually care about in real life.

Of course, social media is real life and it has connected the world in unprecedented ways. I can hear you raising your hand to protest so I’ll concede that there are many benefits to these tools when they are used in certain ways.  

I deleted my social media because the tools of connection that I signed up for almost a decade ago were laying up heavy burdens too great to bear. These tools are just tools that were designed by human beings, and one thing we know about human beings is that we have a propensity to f*** things up. (Is my low anthropology showing?)

Our human operating system runs a program that will lead us to the selfish, destructive choice nine times out of ten. It should be no surprise that a human-designed tool has gone from the great hope of connecting humanity when it was created to a source of crippling anxiety, judgment, and ad sales in ten short years.

I deleted social media not because I think I am better than anyone but because I know I am worse or at least as bad as everyone. I know that social media plays on my most base desires and drives. I know that the red of the notification circle glowing up at me from my smartphone screen looks more like salvation than almost anything in my daily life. This is why I deleted social media. 

Everyone has a story in our age of authenticity. The problem is that we think we are the authors. Social media leads us to believe that we can create and destroy identities and worlds but that power is only for God. Social media promises salvation but too often damns. It offers a golden calf that can ultimately (and Ultimately) do nothing for us. 

But don’t let me tell you what to do. Again, you do you.

Keep scrolling or put your phone down and look out the window. 

Share this post or don’t.

I don’t want this piece to add any more shame or judgment to your cup that is already overflowing with the expectations of the world. If using social media brings you joy and connection, mazel tov!

I do want you to know this: at the end of your life, you will not be concerned with the number of likes you received or what your social media story looked like. When you breathe your last breath, no one will mourn your brand identity.

God does not know that person.

God only knows you (including the you you hide) and your story because he is its author.

You have nothing to prove and nothing to filter. You can’t lose God’s grace because you didn’t earn it. The balance sheet was tossed out and the veil was torn when Jesus Christ died and rose again.

I should be very clear that deleting (or deactivating) my social media accounts doesn’t make me any more righteous than my participation in social media, for as Paul wrote, “There is no longer Luddite or influencer, for we are all one in Jesus Christ.”

Truthfully, I do not feel miraculously better without social media. I have not become more efficient or focused. I am still slightly anxious and generally bored a lot of the time. The difference in the past month is that in the midst of my anxiety and boredom I find my real, live self and I find God waiting patiently for me to look up.

Featured image by Luci Gutiérrez for The New Yorker.