10. 9. 2022

Gossip | English version | To be continued: Once upon a time without social media

by Ana Murcho


We challenged ourselves to go a week without access to apps like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, BeReal and the like. “Oh, that's a piece of cake!” we said (somewhat smugly) the day we sealed the bet. “Anyone can do that”, we decided, oblivious to the fact that it's a long swipe from theory to practice. Did we speak too soon? When we take social media out of the equation, what about our connection to the world?

Spoiler alert: this challenge was not surmounted. The person charged with disconnecting, of shutting down, of "saying no", failed. In her (my) defense, there were times when such an ordeal would seem so simple to perform that its success would be a given. Today's times are not those times. The reason is simple: last May I decided to go one level up on the complicated social media scale. After Facebook (where I haven't published for precisely two years), Twitter (a difficult relationship, I have already deleted the account a few times), Instagram (the Holy Grail, the “place” where everybody gets together but nobody sees each other, like in a schizophrenic café where there are no tables no chairs, no people, just handles) and Raya (I gave up after a year and a half, the monthly fee did not compensate for the below zero use I gave it — however, if any reader actually knows how it works, I may try again), I finally installed TikTok. In my understanding — which can be excused by the generational gap that makes those born in the far 1981s a zero when it comes to technology — TikTok was a “scene” of uninteresting videos. Why waste time watching strangers accept “challenges" and mimic goofy choreography? Why yet another application? Despite the far-fetched belief of Sillicon Valley gurus, who stuff us with new forms of “free” entertainment every year, the day is still 24 hours long. But it wasn't just that: TikTok seemed like “a pandemic thing”, a craze of impatient Internet users who don't know how to be alone. Wrong. TikTok was, and is, nothing of the sort. And that is how my days became four hours shorter — writing it down is even more humiliating than saying it out loud.

Now, as anyone who has TikTok knows, it is impossible not to open the app 3847693184 times a day to “see something.” It doesn't even have to be “a thing” of interest to us. It just has to be there, waiting for us, to discover yet another reason to lose hours of sleep. Proof: the night I surrendered to TikTok I stayed until seven in the morning exploring that brave new world — whose offerings are, in my opinion, frankly more interesting than those of competitors. All this to say that, months later, faced with the hypothesis of turning my back on everything virtual, I didn't hesitate. “Sure!”, I declared, with the presumption that it would be peanuts. I had done it, more than once — three times, to be precise. Every time I “disappeared” it was of my own volition. I needed to “clear” my head. A month without social media was such an easy thing that I upped the ante, and in May 2018, I went almost 90 days without Instagram. When I “returned” my account had been hacked, so I didn't want to risk it again. Now, I decided, the only option was to “stay off”, something as prosaic as using my phone for dozens of things but ignoring the call of anything social media. The end result: I effectively managed to be off. But for that to happen one condition had to be met — I had to be asleep. There is not much to take away about this failure. I am as dependent on these applications as my colleague sitting next to me. I like to discover, to share, to “be up to date” on everything, whether it's a new fashion editorial or an artist I didn't know; whether it's a picture of Cristo Rei or a juicy rumor about a celebrity I'll never speak to — and that can't defend itself, so many are the posts, which multiply at the speed of light. I, Ana, am addicted to social media. I live without it, but I no longer see myself without it. Speaking of which, I should download BeReal.