A couple of weeks ago, I made the decision to quit social media. Here’s what happened. After the Supreme Court announced their decision to overturn Roe vs Wade, my Instagram and Twitter became flooded with posts of hate from both sides of the issue. Comments and posts from one of my friends perplexed me, particularly because of the vitriol and hatred she used to describe people who didn’t agree with her. I sent her a message after I noticed she no longer followed me on social media, asking her for some clarification as to what she was saying in a genuine attempt to try and understand someone who thought differently from me.
The response I got back was immediate, hateful, and absolutely crushing to me. This person was a friend I had worked with for three years, someone who met my wife, went out to dinner with spouses and friends, and met my kids. They offered to babysit for me, invited me to an out-of-state wedding, and even helped plan events for the 501(c)3 non-profit organization I created in honor of my late mother.
This same friend told me she thought I was “pure evil,” “trash,” and more names I won’t repeat here. Shocked, I reiterated that I was trying to understand more of where she was coming from and wanted to have civil conversation, and she doubled down on name calling and attacks on my character.
The way she talked to me made me feel two inches tall and like I was something less than human. This kept me up for many nights. I still find my self thinking about it. And I decided right then and there, I was done with social media. Done with people who dig in their heels and refuse to have civil debate in an effort to learn and grow.
Not to mention the hours I would spend doom-scrolling through Twitter or watching reels of people I didn’t even know on Instagram. It was long time for me to give up social media, and whether or not it is a permanent thing, I’m happy with my decision for now.
It may be a baffling course of action, particularly for me, as in my professional life I work in advertising and my role here at Boss Rush is largely related to being up-to-date on gaming and entertainment news as well as sharing posts written by my colleagues and friends. Things have just gotten so toxic online that it was taking a toll mentally and physically. I couldn’t get out of this cycle of needing to know what was going on and then hating myself, those I follow, and everything that is happening in the world right now. The only solution I could think of was deleting the apps from my phone and setting up blockers on my computer.
What happened next was expected—I got better sleep. I stopped getting in arguments just for the sake of getting into arguments. I felt happier. But then some unexpected things started happening.
I would find myself picking up my phone, only to put it down seconds later because there was nothing for me to look at. I went on vacation last week with my wife’s family, and I left my phone in my room—something I’ve never done. I’m engaging with my kids and wife more. I’ve started sketching and doodling in a journal. I’m creatively motivated to write again. I started, and finished, a book and am now on book three of the series (Red Rising; HIGHLY recommend). And, I’ve rediscovered my love for mobile games.
Ok, the first changes are much more important and healthy and beneficial. But the secondary changes have really been fun for me, especially because I have limited time to play video games being the father of three (soon to be four!) young kids. It’s like I’m remembering all of the wonderful things this mini-computer I keep in my pocket can do. The games I’ve been playing are so different, unique, and most of all fun. I’m having a blast trying to get a perfect run in Super Mario Run. I’m trying to get better at drifting and finding shortcuts in Mario Kart: Tour. I’m constantly trying to beat my previous score in the instantly addicting and deceptively challenging music/puzzle/rhythm game Beatstar (my review can be found here).
There’s also the classics like Candy Crush and Angry Birds, intellectually stimulating puzzle games like Tetris and Sudoku, and the guilty pleasure match-three game Disney Emoji Blitz, that lets you win new Disney character emojis to use when texting people.
There are so many new and old experiences I can’t wait to try out on my phone, and I’m thankful for the time I’ve freed up by deleting social media apps. I still find myself reaching for my phone to tweet something or post a picture—just this week I went to the Houston Dynamo/Austin FC soccer game with a friend and took a selfie in front of the field. I immediately went to post it and then laughed at myself and put my phone up, and just enjoyed the game. A small, but revolutionary change in my life.
As for the incident that caused me to leave social media behind, I’ll just say this: I wish we could live in a world where we agree and disagree with people civilly. Where we use each encounter to learn more about the world, our view of it, and the roles we have to play. Where we approach each conversation not as an opportunity to prove your point or prove the other person wrong, but as a dialogue between two intelligent human beings who are both just trying to do the best they can. Oh, wouldn’t the world be so much better if that were the case.
Mark Pereira is a senior writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find old tweets of his on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows. But hopefully he hasn’t tweeted anything in a while and is enjoying some time just playing video games and enjoying the world around him.
Image Source: Alex Green
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