Breaking up with Social Media - Part Five - It's not Me, It's You!

Social Media, at its inception, never seemed like anything more than a silly distraction to me. Yes, it was cool that so many more people were getting into this thing I loved called “The Internet” but to me I never saw these people as really getting what was special about the Internet to me so I never took sites like that seriously. At least that was the case at first. I had a strange love for the Internet but over time I learned how to stop worrying and love The Facebook. Sure the interactions were more vapid and self serving and less thoughtful or self-aware. I just figured that most people did not have a need to find themselves the way I did online, and good for them for already having their shit together. Instead I looked at social media as a place to get a hold of people I wanted to chat with that no longer used AIM and I would continue using my own website and Livejounral to continue loving the internet like I always had before.

That did not last for long.. Unfortunately Facebook became so popular that it more or less killed almost every other site that people used to connect with others online. Including blogging sites like Livejournal and any chat service that was not Facebook. As the world I loved online began to dwindle I too leaned harder into Facebook and started taking the content I would have previously posted elsewhere and started posting it on Facebook.

Only, things were not the same. You cannot post a long blog post (like this one) to Facebook and expect anyone to read it. At most people are going to read the title and maybe a few lines throughout and then make some kind of comment about the part that they read while ignoring the rest. Over time I stopped writing blog posts as instead of the thoughtful conversations I would get into on Livejournal with other writers I got nothing but homogenized life advice from people who did not even care enough to read what I had posted. The catharsis I had from the internet was going away. I could no longer be myself online as I had no place to do that anymore. Sure I can still post to my own personal website (and still do occasionally) but there was no longer any community to interact with. Meaningful conversation vacated the internet to be replaced with nothing but self-promotion and judgement. Online Ian no longer had a home and Family Ian had to move online to keep up appearances.

For years this has felt like a betrayal of myself. If I am not being authenticate online then what is even the point? I told myself I needed to keep up appearances so that if I ever got around to finishing a book I was writing I would have this large audience of online friends to share it with. I told myself that having a well kept online persona would help people get to know me with my best foot forward. I thought that these things mattered, but in reality I was just jamming myself back into a closet that I have always hated being trapped inside.

Now Facebook is a company that is actively harming the world. Nobody can question anymore the harm that the site inflicts upon democracy. It enables our worst tendencies as humans and silences voices that are not mainstream. So I have recently begun to really question why I am still on this site, can whatever I gain from being here actually make up for what I am supporting financially by allowing Facebook to sell my data for profit?

I don’t know that I can make that case. I don’t think there is enough to gain to make it worth it to continue to be on social media.

So with much pain I am breaking up with Social Media. I am sorry Facebook, it is not me, it is you. I fell in love with the internet when the internet was different. Back when it was accepting of who I was and allowed me to flourish as an individual. But as the internet has changed me so to has the internet changed, it is no longer the accepting place where I can be myself. I don’t really have any place I can be myself any longer (other than when I am home alone) and that is very sad. I would love for their to be a day where someone like me can find a place in the world again. However that place is certainly no longer Facebook or Social Media. So I must say goodbye to my online life, and move on to being myself in other ways. It was a good long run while it lasted but unfortunately there is nothing really left for me here.

I imagine my Facebook profile will still be online for a while but I have already removed most social media from my phone and I do not spend enough time online at home to really have any sort of presence anymore. If you are reading this and want a way to get a hold of me here are some great options!

Email: Ian@GreenGlassesProductions.com
Phone: (616) 841-5527
Google Chat: Ian.Bulock@Gmail.com

I hope this was an informative look into why I am quitting social media. If you want to know more about me check out my blog (you are reading it right now) there are plenty of other things to learn about me here. I would love to get some feedback from anybody that might have read this far. Maybe we can start our own online support group return some of that former glory we are missing online!

With Love <3 Ian

Breaking up with Social Media - Part Four - Becoming Ian

Over time I matured, and the internet matured with me.

Another huge change in my life happened that also forever changed me much like my love of the internet changed me in the years prior.

I mentioned how I had grown up in a small town that more or less repressed the person I felt I was inside. Well, in 2001 that all changed as my Dad decided it was time to move out of that small town and into a very liberal college town instead. This move happened as I transitioned from Middle School to High School. At first this felt completely traumatizing to me, as my personal anxieties have never made it easy for me to handle large changes in my life. However as I began to meld into this new school and this new life something kind of remarkable happened. I found that I no longer needed “Family” Ian while at school. People here accepted me for who I was. Being gay, or nerdy, or a weirdo were no longer things that I would be picked on for. Teachers would encourage these types of behavior and push me to be more of myself, I found new friends who were into all the anime and video games and computers I was into.

Online Ian met the real world. It was glorious and possibly the best time of my life. There is nothing more affirming than to be able to be yourself and be loved for it. This is what I got at East Lansing High School and is when the version of myself that was born and developed online really solidified into that main version of myself that I would become.

I still spent a lot of time online during this period, but almost all of the socializing I would do would be mostly with people I knew in real life. The popular method of online chat by this point was AOL instant messenger, which I used constantly when I was online at my computer. I had built my own websites before, but now I was building websites together with real life human friends that I knew in person. I began to become very self reflective during this time. Being accepted by strangers, again, but this time in real life made me start to question what had gone so wrong in my hometown, and question what was so wrong with my family. I had always loved to write and so when I found the site Livejournal I knew it was time to start getting all of my shit out.

My first blog post, from the day after my birthday 2002.

My first blog post, from the day after my birthday 2002.

I started a blog where I would talk about my feelings, my thoughts, my fears, my anxieties. I had discussed these kinds of things in chats with people before but never in a long form method like this where my thoughts could fully form and develop. This was again, a very trans-formative thing for me. I met even more new friends on blogging sites that also had an interest in figuring their complex emotional shit out, and we helped each other with encouragement and support to navigate what was going on in our minds and our lives. Having a place you can go where you can go as deep as you want to into your own messy mind and be still be accepted by other people is amazing. I cannot imagine the kind of person I would be today if I never stopped back then as a teenager to try to decide who I was as a person and discover why I thought the way I did about the world. In a way Family Ian was still alive when at home and at Church, Online Ian became just Ian and that version of me would continue to develop further with these new outlets for self-analysis.

At this point a new presence was starting to take hold on the internet. The advent of social media websites was upon us, and things would change forever.

Concluded in Part Five…