At the end of last year I decided to delete my social media for good. I had been drifting in this direction for a little while, and in May I finally took the plunge. Disclaimer: I don’t mean to leave anyone with the impression that I am anti-social media; this is just my own journey.
To tell the full story, I’ll go back to sophomore year of high school: I had just transferred from the school system that I had attended for ten years to be closer to home, and it was the first time in my memory that I was truly new. 15 years old and nervous about making a good impression at my new school, I decided that the surest way to make friends would be to have a presence on “social networking.” It seemed like people talked about Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, so I quickly signed up for all four, and waited. They were a background presence on my phone and in my mind. I didn’t post much on Instagram and I completely failed to understand Snapchat, so I was always more of a passive user. I did end up making friends at my new school, but most of that happened in person: sitting together at lunch, working on a project for class, hanging out in the stands after marching band practice. I wasn’t super involved in social media during high school; it was just kind of there. When I arrived at Williams at the beginning of freshman year, I became a little self-conscious about not understanding social media culture. Would everyone in college ignore me if I didn’t answer their Snapchats fast enough? But as freshman year progressed, I made friends and eventually Williams felt like home—and all of that was based on talking to people. I still wasn’t good at social media, so at the end of spring semester I finally deleted all my accounts for good. It felt right, and I didn’t think much of it over the summer.
Being back on campus this year has felt profoundly different. I’m more at ease just by virtue of familiarity, my classes are fascinating, I love my room and my roommate, and it’s amazing to spontaneously hang out with my friends again in the beautiful Berkshires. On top of all that, I just noticed that this is the first time I’m approaching Williams without a trace on social media. As the semester starts, I’ve heard people mentioning a Facebook poster for a campus event, or someone’s cool Instagram story, and I’ve started to wonder if maybe I am missing out on something. After all, the part of you that you share on social media is a part of you. Am I not seeing that part at all now that I can’t scroll past it, or does social media just highlight a part of someone that is less obvious in person? I have zero regrets about deleting social media; it never worked for me, and I’m glad I realized that. But after abruptly ending a background presence in my life that had been there for four years, I haven’t figured out quite yet how to interact with the world without it.