The Social Ramifications of Disconnecting
Going through the mechanics of deactivating your social network accounts is the easy part. Learning to live disconnected is much, much harder.
Not that there aren’t benefits, of course, the primary one being that you get control of your life back. For most folks, we’re talking several hours each week formerly spent obsessively checking your various news feeds and pinboards, now freed up to use however you deem best. And, even better, you no longer have to suffer through the self-important ramblings and whinings of your hundreds of faux friends; when you’re disconnected, you don’t have to listen to anybody you don’t want to.
For many users, however, disconnecting has some definite downsides. For starters, you’re truly disconnected – and will probably feel that way. What are your friends up to? What are your family members posting? What are you colleagues talking about today? When you’re not on the same social networks, you simply won’t know. Not that you absolutely, positively need to know, but still. It’s lonely out there when everyone is social networking except you.
Being disconnected also means you won’t get to share your own whinings and pining with others online. If you’re used to posting about every little ache and pain and perceived slight life deals you, well, you better get used to going it alone. If you’re not socially networked, you can’t go trolling for sympathy there.
Nor can you take advantage of some of the true benefits of social networking, such as sharing family photos and alerting real friends and family to real life events. You’ll have to resort to old school email or – horror of horrors – call them on the phone when you have something important to impart. Yeah, that’s right, you’ll have to personally interact with people again. Let’s hope you remember how.
Finally, when you consciously disconnect you’ll realize how social networking permeates our modern lives. This is probably more true for younger users than older ones, but still; as a society we’ve come to rely on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media for basic day-to-day communication. Leaving the grid will be difficult, for you and for the people you need to communicate with.
In short, disconnecting from your social networks and going back to the old ways of communicating will take some work – but could be worth it. You’ll forsake the advantages (and disadvantages) of instant communications but regain a sense of self and a lot of free time. It may be a worthwhile tradeoff.