Epistemic Status: Personal
I’m not a Puritan. I eat dessert, enjoy a good cocktail, and socialize a lot. I like fun, and I don’t think fun is wrong.
So I really understand the allergy to messages of ascetic self-denial.
But lately I’ve found it necessary to become more like this:
and less like this.
More balanced, deliberate, reflective. Less needy, emotionally unstable, dramatic, and attention-seeking.
Why is it worth being less of a drama queen? In some ways, equinamity is a lot less fun.
But, ultimately, being a drama queen is a dependent’s lifestyle. It makes you unable to function on your own. As a practical matter, I am not a dependent, and so I sometimes need to do things — in real life, outside of my own head, where the actual state of the world matters.
I also think it’s wrong to constantly interrupt things other people are doing to change the subject to All About Me.
And, basically, that’s what social media does. It distances you from reality, makes you focus on a shadow-world of opinions about opinions about opinions; it makes you more impulsive and emotionally unstable; it incentivizes derailing conversations to fish for ego-strokes.
I don’t dislike petty bullshit — I enjoy it all too much. I could happily spend eternity picking fights and chasing drama if somehow that were feasible.
So I asked myself “is there, ultimately, anything wrong with living in a world of screams and shadows and impulse pleasures? Do I actually care about anything else?” And the answer was “Unfortunately, yeah. I have to literally sustain my own life, and there are people I genuinely care about. So…ok, reality matters.”
And if reality matters, obviously you shouldn’t be doing stuff that makes you into a moron.
Life after social media isn’t hard, in my experience. Life without one pleasure isn’t miserable, because there are other pleasures. The brain’s pleasure mechanisms are damnably homeostatic; you adjust to about the same amount of average happiness, regardless of how intense or mild the pleasures in your daily life. I miss the drama of social media now and then, but not most days.
I think if you consider yourself reality-oriented or “serious”, then quitting social media should be overdetermined.
I’m a little more ambivalent about all that — I’m the kind of person who might plug myself into the Experience Machine — but I think as long as we live on a planet with limited resources, a pure life of fantasy is suicidal, and at least sometimes we have to deal with reality. And we should at least not mislead, or dissipate the efforts of, people who are trying to deal with reality.
Plus, even for dreamers like myself, I think there might someday be a better Annwfn than Facebook.