How Much Is Too Much? When To Know It’s Time To Step Back From Sharing Online
Could you be a digital ghost?
It’s the year 2022, and many, if not most of us, share a lot online. From what we had for breakfast, to our weekend walks. Our hot-takes can be found on our Twitter feed, our ‘felt cute, might delete later’ snaps on Instagram, and our dodgy meme reshares all over Facebook.
With the internet’s official birthday just past (that’s the 1st of January, btw), a significant amount of us have not lived in a time when cyberspace didn’t exist, and frankly, that’s a bit scary.
In the past, I’ve come tantalisingly close to deleting all of my social media and going off the grid. Why I haven’t actually followed through with that is a conversation for a different day, but the reason that I’ve wanted to is because, I’m addicted – I know, groundbreaking, ‘millenial depends on her smartphone’.
Yes, I have to use it for work purposes, but do I need to scroll through TikTok while I wait for the microwave to ping? No, respectfully – that’s madness.
The idea that I’ve interacted with social media for longer in my life than I haven’t, setting up my first Bebo page when I was 12, is a lot to take in. Mostly because I was an idiot until, maybe, last year? And even at that, I’m sure future me will think present me is an idiot still now. So should I be handed a public platform to share the thoughts, images and interests I have at a certain time in my life, I don’t think so. But like I’ll let that stop me.
Social media detoxes are so overdone at this point they’re the ‘no owning a television’ of the new age. However, as cliché, as they are these days, taking a quick detox, can often restore your sense of calm and clarity and is definitely worth giving a go if you too are struggling with your place on social media.
But I’ll take your detox and raise you one better – an internet vanishing act. The idea of erasing ourselves from the internet entirely is a foreign concept to many of us, our digital footprint feels as permanent as the streets we walk in, we’ve lived and breathed social media for the best part of our adult lives and imagining a time when we don’t share our thoughts and actions with the world in real-time feels against nature’s wishes.
And despite popular belief, it’s doable to go offline, and for good too – it’s not easy, but definitely possible.
With a decent amount of spare time on your hands and a hefty dose of determination too, you can slowly, one by one turn off the green light on every platform you’ve engaged with. Many recommend starting with the big five, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn, seeing as they likely have the highest reach and therefore the most dirt on you.
You can do this by deactivating and permanently closing down each account. From there, you can clean up the leftovers with tools like ‘Account Killer’ and ‘Just Delete Me’, which is as good an erase as any.
If you want to take things even further, say dusting away any emails you’ve ever sent or sites you’ve ever clicked on there are more, albeit complicated, steps you can take, which you can easily find with a quick Google search (and then, you know, delete it afterwards).
I’m not coming at you with a hefty dose of absolutism, how could I? I work in digital media ffs. All I’m saying is that there is life offline, and if you’re feeling icky about your relationship with the internet, and the idea of there being multiple, expired versions of you floating around out there, it’s absolutely possible to not engage with it anymore.
Leaving your internet persona behind doesn’t make you any better than the person who always shares their perfectly ripe avocado on their Instagram story, but it can ease an anxious mind, protect your personal information, and help you to find yourself too.
Not all of us can afford to go offline, nor do all of us want to, but knowing that it’s a possibility to do so is freeing in and of itself, even if we never actually follow through with it, we can tweet about the intention anyway.
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