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I hear parasocial relationships—the ones that resemble real relationships, but only when viewed from one angle—are not that good for your nervous system. To make the obvious explicit, they are fundamentally asymmetrical.

With the help of social media, I sometimes forget this: No celebrity I follow actually knows me. (Maybe a few minor blue checkmarks will occasionally heart my comments.) Yet the longer I follow a celeb, the harder it is to remember I don’t actually know them, either. 

Humans are wired for relationships, for reciprocity. We expect it, and in the absence of, well, proof of its absence, we just sort of fill in the blanks—with something like friendliness, because while we have a factory setting for “one-sided worship of a goddess” we don’t like to flip that switch too often. And that’s why I kinda feel like Sam Irby is my pal.

It is not saying anything new to point out that we all now have far too many elevated people living, as it were, next door. We’re all aware that keeping up with the Joneses was already hard on us peasants in our feudal past, because the saying “Comparisons are odious” dates from the 1400s. (That was before people could use Facetune to make it look like those were real pearls hot-glued to their wimple.) 

And now of course we’re supposed to be keeping up with the Kardashians and the Hadids, Beyoncé and the Biebers and also all their moms. It’s what the writer Freddie de Boer has called the “horror of multiplicity.” Celebs may be the 1%, but they occupy a much bigger slice of the social attention pie. 

Where does that leave us? Down there on the bottom tier with the Joneses, I think. Here we are in this artificial, overstocked fish bowl, comparing ourselves to algorithms and holograms—because we can’t help it; that’s part of the horror—and we suffer from the comparison. 

And as they said in the slightly less horrified 19th century, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

It would also not be anything new to say, “Delete your social media apps now!” It would be very old and hand-wringing indeed. So I shan’t say that. I will let Jaron Lanier say it (read his thoughtful little book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now). And I will also say that when I read this mini-festo a few years ago, I left Facebook and didn’t look back. It’s been a massive life upgrade.

Unlike Lanier I’m still over on a couple other platforms, where I’ve begun reducing the horror of multiplicity by purging a lot of blue checkmarks from my feed. I find myself asking: Do I know this person? Can I even tell who they are, or is their avatar some anonymous infant or pet? Would I follow them if they weren’t famous? And what is their “influence” on me, anyway? Do they make me want to cook or knit, or do they make me despair about … everything?

Most important, are they here to make me laugh? Because yes to videos of cockatoos swinging in face-mask hammocks. Yes to all medieval tassel enthusiasts. Yes to impassioned pleas for taking the “t” off “tsunami.”

Because as they tell me in the 21st century, laughter is good for the nervous system. Feeling like I need to be six inches taller and 20 pounds lighter is not just to be one of the cool kids is not.

So tell us where you’ve landed in all of this. Have you decided that life is hopelessly intertwined with social media and resistance is futile? Have you curated your feed to a fare-thee-well and unfollowed anybody who makes you feel bad? Or have you gone medieval and left an app or even social media altogether? Or something else? Tell us—yes, irony noted!—in the comments below.

Image credit: The Beauty Unmask’d, James Wilson, after Henry Robert Morland, 1745-1794, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

About The Author

Max Daniels is a research-based life coach whose weekly emails make us laugh with recognition and rethink everything we thought we knew. Her new book is Meals at Mealtimes. What a concept!


  • I’ve thinned out media interactions, and have set timers for how long I play on my phone. Time is precious, and yarn doesn’t knit itself

    • I have to set timers. Would much rather knit than doom scroll Twitter. Resolved!

  • I gave up all social media. Anyone that matters I communicate with directly eg. Email phone face to face. The rest are just interference. I find these relationships fulfils day supportive. Exception. MDK.

    • The only social media thing I do is Ravelry (I don’t count blogs…), and I very rarely comment on that, just look for patterns and hints. It wasn’t a leaving, they just weirded me out from the start so I never used any of them. If my family has news they email or text or even telephone me (How’s that for old fashioned!). Keep the data miners guessing, that’s my motto!
      My husband and I were just joking yesterday that when we rule the world, we’ll reinstate the blue laws and extend them to the internet, so one day a week everyone on the planet would just have to STOP.

    • Error correction-Except MDK I have cancelled all social. Fulfilling and supportive relationships are maintained thru email phone face to face.

      • Same. I deleted Facebook from my life years ago and have never been on the others.

        Social media isn’t just soul destroying on an individual level. The algorithms push content designed to outrage us – because we tend to click on such things more often – and this pushes us ever farther apart.

        Old style platforms without algorithmic boosting of content are not as bad, but they also tend to keep us hanging out with people just like us. This narrows focus and reinforces existing viewpoints, instead of opening us up to new things.

        • Amen to that! It’s far too easy to end up in a Twitter bubble with people just like me, or even more extreme. Civil, face-to-face discourse encourages a pull to moderation and compromise. Politics on social media encourages polarization.

      • I second this. I have spent about one hour total in the past year on FB. Everytime I open IG it annoys me and I close it. Tried Twitter a few years ago and deleted it after a week. Useless. I write, cook, knit, and take care of my family and my three very close friends.

      • What a profoundly sane and healthy approach to actual life and the people in it. Huzzah.

  • I never joined the social media world. My Facebook account sends me an email when one of my children or other (blood) relative posts an update but otherwise I do not “do” Facebook. There are too many other beautiful things in the world.

  • Never had Facebook. Not sad. Left Twitter after the hell of he I will not name. So much happier. Only IG a few minutes a day but sick of all the advertisements. It may be on the chopping block.

  • The closest thing I have to a social media account I have is MDK and Ravelry. Never to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok et al… is too short and relationships are sustained in person. Call me medieval.

    • I’m part of this group too! An old boyfriend payed me an unknown compliment a few years back saying it was very hard to find me as I don’t have any social media presence! I love technology, but only when I control it and not vice versa!

    • I agree!!

    • I would go with Enlightened vs medieval. I go with MDK and Ravelry. If I want to reach out to a company and the only options are FB, IG, Twit or Tikt, they won’t hear from me (or get business from me).

    • Preach, Max, preach.
      Right on darlin’…right on.

    • Amen.

  • The only social media I have ever done is Ravelry and MDK. Never been interested in telling the whole world my business. And if I’m not in touch with someone in person, why would I want to waste my time talking to them online? I’ve never understood why people bother. The fact that I’m not on Facebook drives my sisters crazy though.

    • Agree completely!

  • Finally I can feel good about all these stupid dog videos that I’m laughing at!!! (I have been known to say, I’m only on Instagram for the dogs…..).

    • I love the talking huskies ( not all of them) but several. They talk almost as much as I do.

  • I tend to follow relatives and friends rather than celebrities. I have reconnected with people who I lost touch with due to distance, changing lifestyles, changing jobs, etc. It’s been great to renew old friendships and keep up with those people who I care about. I throw in a couple of knitting/spinning, art, and cooking groups to keep me inspired.

    • Exactly. And found & keep up with cousins I have never met, or who are too farflung to meet up with otherwise.
      Lots of knitting, fabric, fashion/costume, gardens, beautiful creations of all kinds. But heavily pruned (such a good word, much better than “curated” ugh, sounds like a medical term).

  • Social media is useful, fun and informative, BUT this does require a discerning approach to the follow button. Maybe it’s because I’m nearly 50, and not nearly 25 that I don’t find social media to be horrifically dangerous to my self esteem (horrible colleagues or misogynistic bosses are infinitely worse I find/have found). My experience of social media is maybe because I follow people who “seem” to be honest in their approach to using it – maybe because they’re also (mostly) not nearly 25….
    I love a good scroll through Insta (it’s my favourite SM), check on FB only when notified to see what old schoolfriends & family are up to & have decided that I’m probably too old for Tiktok. Twitter is excellent for an alternative take on current news & there’s some fabulously cranky about-50-ish women on there who are excellent resources for all things (peri)menopause. My own rules of non-engagement on twitter keep my bloodpressure stable 😉

  • Confession: I was on Facebook for a while, limited to good friends and family. It’s a scary place at times. I discovered one old friend from grammar school on (and we’re in our early 80s now) is a zealous supporter of he who shall not be mentioned. Another friend posted photos of her meals whenever she dined out. How did they find out that I’m a knitter? I was deluged daily with ads and sites about knitting. So…first I paused it and would occasionally check in. Nothing changed, and the lightbulb went on. I deleted my account and have never looked back. Thanks, Max, for your column. Social media is an addiction and a time waster.

    • I’m on Facebook but only because it’s how members of my very far flung family have and stay connected. We’re scattered across the US AND IN Australia, South Africa, the UK, and Russia. We keep up with each other in ways never before imaginable and to me it’s nearly miraculous. Also keep up with former students from my 40+ years as a professor. But the rest of it? Nope, my index finger’s adept at scrolling! So for me, neither addiction nor time waster—instead, connections that otherwise would not be made or maintained. Use Ravelry for pattern purchases only. No bother with others except for MDK and then only when interest is piqued. Basically I would rather read a book!

      • The only social media I embrace is MDK, and podcasts from Andrea Mabry, Candace English and Franklin Habit’s blog. People who know me frequently ask how I have the time to embrace so many hobbies, do volunteer work and hold down a full time job and my answer is always that I don’t do social media. People seem dumbstruck by this. I don’t know how so many people got sucked into thinking social media is a healthy thing to lean into

  • I’ve been on Facebook (but only Facebook) since it’s inception. And my use of it hasn’t really changed. It’s a way to keep in touch with far flung family and friends, especially helpful these past few years. I did add some knitting/crochet groups but those come and go as I lose or change interest. The only celebrity I follow is Franklin Habit

  • I tried Facebook and found it to be a huge waste of time so it was instantly deleted. I use Instagram for knitting sites.

  • Hmmm I don’t follow anyone I don’t know or who knits. I unfollowed a few that I didn’t like as well ( knitters not friends) Oh there are the huskies I follow too. They are fun.

  • I unfollowed a lot of celebs especially when I noticed most of the content was a sales pitch! I stopped following the news and politics because it started to make me crazy! Now I like mostly knitting and gardening and decorating it is relaxing and a way to escape

  • My general rule is if it doesn’t leave you feeling good, don’t do it. This applies to social media and my news feed.

    • Yep! No Facebook, only Twitter stuff that I see will be recommendations from MDK or Clara Parks’ respite. Live is so much better when I can walk away from the screen and just breathe (and knit, of course).

  • The only celebs I follow are knitting celebs. And yes, when I go to Rhinebeck I tell my friends who that person is and who this person, but I have to remember that they don’t know who I am!

  • I have not let myself get into the major social media platforms. I know that they would become a rabbit hole that would waste too much time in.

  • The best thing about social media is the specialty groups. I belong to several knitting and birding groups, and also one cooking group. I’m only on Facebook and limit my friends to actual friends and family. Even so, many times I step away from it for a bit.

  • I have deleted my social media accounts, my life is better because! I have seen so many of my young friends who’s life is ruled by likes, bolstered by nice comments and likes. And then destroyed by criticism and comparison. Newsletters like MDK and others I choose to subscribe to keep me informed.
    I think in so many ways social media turns us inward and makes us compete for love and attention, we become self-centered and shallow, relying on others lives and opinions for our self-worth…a sad state to be in really.

  • I am an “IG only” at this point, but can get sucked right down the rabbit hole of that if not careful. I have not had my TV on since mid-June and that has been HUGE!!! Finding I do not miss it at all, but the darkness of winter may be a challenge.
    I am disappointed to realize after reading this that Kay, Ann, Franklin, and others may not actually be “my friends”.

  • I am a Puerto Rican Latina living in an aggressively hate-filled state. Social media is my only access to the outside world. Having said that, when I retired earlier this year, I took a month off of all social media. During that time, I made note of who & what I missed. At the end of that time, I created a new FB account with a handful of humans (started at 4, but am up to 10), & a bunch of groups (knitting/needlework, Latina, Latinx, witchy, & local interest). Instagram is still fun. Twitter/Reddit/TikTok are still on my phone but I rarely engage. A few friends/associates have moved their interest groups to Mighty Network & I really prefer that platform. I am brutal about silently blocking anyone who threatens my peace. Also, I left off all notifications. I scroll when the mood strikes me. My dream is to have enough of an in-person community to not need invisible friends

  • Never been on social media. Ever. Happier for it.

  • I only follow creatives who inspire my own creative practice. I never follow celebrities. Other than that, I only have people I know in my social media.

  • Never a FB user, or Insta or TikTok or Twitter, etc. The things I’m missing out on are drama, political division and self-loathing? No thank you. I prefer the real world with real interactions.

  • TikTok – never.
    Facebook – gone with no tears.
    Instagram – gone with less regret than I expected. Miss seeing other weavers and knitters tho.
    Twitter – still exists in my universe only because of Olive and Mabel. Profound thanks to their human Andrew Cotter.

    IRL, many more projects completed. Also took up drawing and watercolors. Feel like I stole back time!

  • I have a knitting problem. I just broke my left index finger, which I use for continental knitting. It is in a cast with my middle finger. Any way I can knit?

    • Try Portuguese knitting

      • I second this, I think you just flick your left thumb in Portuguese?

        You can also learn to throw, which will not tax your left index finger. You can use your left thumb to slide any stitches off the left needle if needed. Heal soon!

  • Never was on Facebook, never tweeted, or Instagramed or any other social media of the kind. Influencers don’t influence or interest me. There are other ways to keep up with what’s going on and what matters. Also fortunate enough to have my loved ones close enough that I don’t need to try and stay in touch via the means. I do love ravelry however.

  • I got scammed on IG so I deleted the App. But I miss my knitting friends very much.

  • Many claps and hurrays, thank you for writing this. I had an early lesson of one-sided adoration. I was quite young and my parents took me to see Captain Kangaroo at a downtown auditorium. I honestly thought he could see me in that sea of faces! I always love your articles, thank you!

  • I have a FB account but rarely (as in maybe once a quarter) post anything. I do have family and work friends that tag me once in awhile so those posts I look at.
    Have an Instagram account and I might have actually looked at something in the past. Not sure what my user name and password are. Never tweeted.
    On Ravelry and the Lounge but not often. Electronic time, in any form, takes time away from knitting, gardening ,and everyday living.

  • I enjoy most of my interaction with social media, especially Instagram – except for the copious adverts and “suggested sites” the algorithm insists I want to see. I don’t and find them irritating. I use messenger to communicate by text, photo and voice with family and friends but only extremely rarely look at Fb because I find that it is bad for my mental health and, probably, blood pressure. I have never been on twitter for the same reasons. I look at Instagram a lot but often cull sites I’ve been following: I don’t follow any celebrities or influencers and rarely sites who use product placement and advertising to promote themselves. I have notifications muted on everything except family and 1 or 2 friends on messenger. I use a junk email address for all social media so that I never see any of the nonsense that gets sent to it.

  • I moved Facebook app to the very last screen on my phone, to make it less mindless to access. It’s been a good move because I do enjoy keeping up with far flung friends and relatives, but hate when I find myself dumb scrolling through it! But, I have been getting SO much garbage and “selected” content I may leave. No Tik Tok or Twitter, am intrigued by Instagram but don’t really want another potential rabbit hole SM account!

  • Amen!

  • The only good use for social media, in my opinion, is to keep in touch with family members who are geographically far away. I dislike talking on the phone, so social media fills in the gaps. I sometimes miss letters, but social media includes photos, which I love.

  • So one of the bright spots of some social media is forming some sort of connection. Seeing patterns, learning new techniques and meeting like minded women.
    At the MDK Getaway a few years ago several of us realized we knew each other mainly by our IG names, so we added them to our name tag. It was so good to actual put a person with a name. I think many of us thankfully still maintain those connections.

  • I am on several platforms and I enjoy them. Each one has special groups that interest me, chicken group, prepper group, world view and alternate views group. Some groups are completely over my head and I don’t follow or have them on my feedy reading list. I follow people because they do something that I might be interested in or they are a source of beauty. I have found grade school and high school friends, and blogs on how to become self sufficient. For me its as if I had access to all these friends and family around the world. I like that.

    I admit to not following celebrities, current fashion trends, or negative reinforcement groups. It is not a life I choose to be part of and really don’t know or care about these people. I do other things during my waking hours, knit, watch old movies, sweep the floor (dog hair!) naps!

    Life for you and me will be different, l like that. I can find information, news, different perspectives about the world I currently live in. I can interact or not. It is just an option

  • I’ve now had Facebook longer than I didn’t have it. Social media is fully entrenched in my life. Now, that being said, I’ve carefully curated so that only family and things that bring me joy are on all my medias. Instagram is mostly knitting…

  • I never really used Facebook, but recently stopped Instagram. Freed up a big chunk of time and stopped buying things that I didn’t know I didn’t need. I realized I’m not missing anything and feel great about it.

  • I don’t use social media at all and never have and don’t feel the least regret. I keep in touch with my (real) friends by seeing them, texting, phone, and emails and let them tell me directly what’s going on in their lives. I don’t understand the need for people to express their opinions on every little thing and especially things that don’t concern them — like other people’s lives. This would simply be considered rude when I was young. Put down your phones and look around you!

  • I just had the privilege of wandering Musee le Louvre for three hours. I was stunned by the number of people who walked through rooms with their cell phone in front of them taking a walking video of the paintings, not even looking up to see the wonder of a Vermeer, Rembrandt, Caravaggio or the Winged Victory. I think this is parallel to many of the social media connections. Feels like you’re connecting but you don’t have to feel it.

  • I have FB, IG and TikTok (which I haven’t opened but need it to see some videos without a lot of hassle). I gave up Twitter the first time I was put in Time Out for telling the truth about an inflated Fox News nobody. Now I have gotten rid of the negative people on all those platforms. I don’t follow back anyone I don’t recognize. I don’t follow anyone who doesn’t bring joy to my life.

  • I was “purged” from Facebook 3 years and while I miss keeping in touch with far flung cousins who do not write letters or emails, I don’t miss it. My daughters would like me to use Twitter…maybe…

  • I enjoy FB because I have family and friends across the country. The only celebrities I follow are knitting designers and yarn dyers which is a far cry from following the Kardashians! I don’t follow fashions or sports or politics so my FB usually opens with a gorgeous stranded sweater of some awesome beauty! So for me, FB is just part of my knitting!

  • No social media purist here. But your article has inspired me to pay attention to what’s on my feed and whether it’s serving me well. In the past, I’ve gotten good at “snoozing” and unfollowing Facebook “friends”. I don’t follow too many celebrities (unless you count a few authors I like or knit designers I want to keep up with). Sometimes even with personal acquaintances, I’m better off not paying attention for a while.

  • “Celebs may be the 1%, but they occupy a much bigger slice of the social attention pie.”
    Actually, not if you don’t let them, and I don’t let them. I don’t follow them, I don’t care what they wear or eat or do. I have mostly left Facebook, still like Instagram for the connection with my hobbies and my love of far away places. Dislike the freakin’ Reels so I don’t watch ’em. That’s about it. Social media IS here to stay, but how much of our mind it co-opts, how much we are influenced by it, is entirely up to us.

  • I volunteer at a small historical village as the loom house curator where I spin, weave, knit, sew (on treadle machines) on my days there. I only started on FB and IG to use that as a small way to publicize the village. My friends list/followers is quite small and for all I can see other fiber people or people volunteering/working at other historical sites. I, too, set limits on how much I am on. Lately, it has been only once every two days or only late in the evening as I am gearing up for our fall festival later this month and there are too many looms to get set up for demonstrating.

  • I use social media ony own way and for my own reasons. Keeping track of friends and family, interacting with them, and sharing good things like humor and art. I only follow a few people I don’t actually know. Those folks tend to share interesting thoughts about their work and lives, not in a “promotional” way but just as people living life.

  • Ravelry – is the social/knitting media for me. Is MDK a social media? if so that is another for me. But the common variety –
    I never started with facebook and coterie because I find the concept misrepresented the true reality, intrusive and too much of a self advertisement… I was right in this original perception… Following celebrities? nope, there is enough in ordinary media trying to assault you with their “news”. Do people find their own lives not worth enough and must “follow” someone else’s?

  • Gave away my TV 18 years ago. Unsubscribed from multiple feeds which have caused distress or moved to trash without my opening them over the last few months. Guess I am a happy troglodyte.

  • I left Facebook over 5 years ago, and Instagram over 3 years ago. I have never looked back or missed it for one minute. I informed my adult children and my siblings, if they have anything important or pictures to share, they can text, email or phone. My 5 siblings and I are scattered all across the US. We stay in touch with a long running sibling text, and a scheduled sibling zoom every two weeks. My grands in Seattle we have done the same, I have a scheduled FaceTime with them every Tuesday night.

  • I live alone. I joined Facebook to keep up with friends. That didn’t work, and I go there maybe once weekly. I do use Instagram and my friends keep me updated. I just found my county library delivers, so I am happy. I enjoy solitude and it isn’t a bad thing.

  • Gave up Facebook. I don’t do twitter or Snapchat either. These things just rob you of your time. I’d rather be knitting!

  • It was interesting to read some of the comments; I only started using Facebook when one of my kids went overseas and it was the simpler more reliable contact at the time. I have never ‘followed’ anyone. So for me social media is just a family friends kind of thing and that’s it. Don’t have any interest in any of the other apps. Funny, sometimes I think about the ubiquity of our cell phones and remember life before it was attached to me like a wart!

  • I’ve never gotten into most social media platforms – just never got around to it and now they seem more trouble than they’re worth.

    It’s funny that someone has been making impassioned pleas to drop the “t” off “tsunami” – I’m pretty sure it’s a Japanese word and they wouldn’t drop the “t” when they pronounce it.

  • Cui bono? I truly believe that social media serves no one except social media companies and ad agencies. We have had a way to contact loved ones and business associate for a long time via the phone or the USA mail.

  • I stopped regularly using Facebook several years ago and finally decided to delete my account entirely at the beginning of the COVID pandemic when people I love dearly went ballistic and mouth foamy over wearing masks and social distancing and started lashing out on facebook saying things to people that they would NEVER have considered saying if the FB environment hadn’t created a place in the world where you can safely be the worst version of yourself. I want to be able to continue to love my Loved Ones. That means I need to not know their deepest darkest most horrible selves. Because at the end of the day, I don’t believe that deep dark horrible twisted person on Facebook is who they really are. If anything, they are hurting and Facebook is taking advantage of that pain and using it to create the monster I see on FB. Facebook is purposefully bringing out the monster in all of us because horror films sell tickets.

    So I am out and I deleted my IG account at the same time because I will not support any branch of Facebook’s business if I can help it. I do miss IG, because I used it for knitting stuff only. I miss not seeing pics of what knitter peeps are doing and I miss not know what knitter celebs are doing, but I’m willing to pay that price.

    I am still on Ravelry and I read knitting blogs and comment when I feel like it. I don’t feel like blogs and commenting is really social media. Maybe it was the beginning of social media, but now it is too quaint to be truly considered social media. I’ve always told people who don’t know what Ravelry is, that is it like Facebook but uplifting and wonderful and not awful and soul destroying. Of course, I know even Ravelry has had their troubles, but I think they try to keep things from turning into a hatefest.

  • Curate. Thin. Delete. (Rinse & repeat)

    The only big media platform I use is Facebook. There are “real world” groups I belong to that use their FB pages to communicate, update, and inform members. They stay. My biological family is scattered across the U.S.and we use FB to stay in touch. Ditto real-life friends.

    But… I never “friend” anyone I don’t know IRL. I have no hesitation in blocking or hiding those ubiquitous forwarded posts that don’t interest me. (Religious posts, political posts, more & more generic videos, memes or “what celebrity are you?” games that ask you to respond with personal information, etc). And I’ll put a 30-day snooze on even close friends who are currently whipping some hobbyhorse that I Just. Don’t. Agree. With.

    Ravelry stays. Blogs like this one stay, though in all honesty, the MDK posts that have virtually no content beyond “buy our cool new product” get short shrift. (And what IS a “shrift”, anyway?)

    No Twitter, no Instagram, no TikTok, no whatever is new & hot & all the kids are on it — I’m too old for that B.S., and frankly I don’t CARE what the Kardashians are up to.

  • I have a very active on Instagram. Having no interest in the Kardashians or the Hadid sisters, I never did follow them. With Instagram I get to look at plants and watch dancers from all over the world. I love silly dog photos and videos. I post about my pets, cooking, plants, and nature. There are many, many non celebrity accounts to follow, and it means that other people will see my photographs and might even laugh at my videos. @valeriethered

  • Although I have an account on both IG and Twitter, I’ve not visited either in a long, long time. Will not ever access TikTok; I do NOT open anything that has that icon on it. Yes, I use FB and generally enjoy it with the exception of a couple of lifelong friends who are politically insane. Oh, well – life goes on. Thank you all for your variety of subjects that you address. Keep it going.

  • Hmmmmm. I’m not currently on social media because I found myself going down rabbit holes and loosing hours to the mindless scroll and constantly being up to date on the news was not the best for my mental health. I’ve gotten off most platforms, but the reasons I was able to stay off is because I’m in several very active group chats with people who I love very dearly, who keep me entertained and keep me (virtual) company. They’re basically friends in my pocket. We all met on various social media platforms, and have transferred to being real, actual friends who I spend time with in real life. They’ve brought me so much joy and really kept me sane during the pandemic. And frankly they’re all on various platforms and will forward a funny or informative tweet or tiktok, and I’ll go and check their posts to see what they’re posting about, so it’s not like I’m fully disengaged (for example I also love the tiktoks of a certain Queer Medieval Pageant Planner who’s obsessed with tassels).

    There are ways that social media wasn’t good for me, but it also introduced me to some of the most important and fulfilling relationships in my life, either directly or indirectly. I’ve never struggled with making friends as an adult, because I’ve met people on social media, or my friends (most of whom I met on social media) have friends I can meet.

    Social media is not designed for the end users, ultimately. It’s a way to monetize your data and sell it to advertisers. But despite that, it can be used as a way to enrich your life and bring you joy. You just have to find the people who are on there (whether your knew them previously or not) and interact and form relationships with them.

    • This last paragraph! It’s important to remember that when it comes to social media, YOU are the product, no matter HOW strictly you set your security and controls. They wouldn’t give it to you for free if they weren’t getting something from you in return. So you have to decide what that’s worth. A few kitten reels a day in exchange for knowing how much I watch Frasier reruns? Sure, that sounds about right.

  • Thanks, Max. I left Facebook a year or so ago. Haven’t looked back.

  • Oh yes, I purged about three years ago. No FB. A few Instas. I keep on top of it as there is such a thrill in hitting that unfollow button! I’m with the team that calls friends several times each week, texts, sends emails and WhatsApps with joy and smiles and “howareyoudoings?” I talk to strangers in stores and smile at the houseless. Life is about real human contact and the rewards are enormous. Thanks for your amazing point on guidance.

  • Having spent my working life on computers, with a father who was on ARPANET and loved it back in the day, I was of course intrigued by the early days of the internet. Web 1.0 had that engaging innocence; it was fun meeting people around the world with similar interests on bulletin boards.

    That of course did not last long. When Facebook started changing its terms of “privacy”, I bailed and was informed that I could not in fact remove myself from their databases. It was an early heads-up.

    No regrets about abstaining from social media, but I sure regret what it has devolved into. Still spending too much time reading online, but am training myself to bail immediately when anything starts to feel like clickbait or agitprop (which is most of it). It’s an ongoing process.

  • I only use IG and ravelry these days. I long ago deleted FB and really only miss it for the birthday reminders and marketplace (a great way to get rid of furniture). I definitely curate who I follow on IG. If it doesn’t bring me joy, it’s gone. I dropped not 1 but 2 internet friends for posting pictures of their kids poop on the floor or lawn. Because, really?

  • I gave up Facebook years ago. I don’t miss it and never will. I’m having to take two classes this semester and the whole class revolves arount posting to each other and. “Discussing the material and questions the professor posts. It is ridiculous. The books are on Cengage. I ordered the hardbacks.. it won’t crash like my computer just did. I lost 6 hrs of work. So now I knit, eat chocolate and drink Ginger ale, to calm myself. Exhausting.

  • I just turned 60 and am finally comfortable in my own skin. Would I like to lose some excess ballast, yes, but just for me. I can look at social media and know that it’s only a snippet of someone’s life.

  • I have family members that I continue to friend on Facebook only for pics and family news but sometimes I have to put them in time out. And I’ve stopped reading their political/religious posts. I’m on no other platforms. Facebook is time suck enough.

  • My only social media is FB (it’s still the best way to stay in touch with a few very distant friends) and Ravelry. I’ve never joined any other platform, as FB alone is too exhausting most of the time. I have cleared my ‘friend’ list to people I actually like interacting with, and I am not ashamed to say that makes it a pretty short list.

  • In my house, Kay and Anne have been known as my “imaginary friends” for a decade or so. Yarnharlot is another one. A bit of humor and fiber love to start the day.

    Ravelry is my only social network and they are super responsible about privacy and security.

    My only celebrity selfie was with Anne and Kay at a NYC yarn show. Just to prove to my spouse that they exist. Anne had to help my find the front camera button.

  • On reading this, I immediately went to my public library app and downloaded Jaron Lanier’s book. Thanks! I need to take this to heart.

  • I read MDK every morning instead of looking at social media.
    Well, MAYBE I look at my little grandson on Tik Tok after.
    But Facebook is strictly for 3 time a week “HB CGS SFYL” (happy birthday congratulations sorry for your loss) messages. After that I go outside!

  • I limit my Facebook feed to personal friends only. I know Facebook sends dozens of “Friends” suggestions but I do not respond unless I actually know the person and have an existing relationship with them. If I get a Friend request from someone I do not know or have a real relationship with, I delete it. I also restrict access to my feed to “Friends Only.”

    To be sure, I get flotsam and jetsam on my Facebook page but I delete it immediately.

    These two methods have kept me from having many of the problems that plague others.

    Just my method and it keeps me relatively sane.

    Best wishes, Nancy D

  • My favorite move regarding anything I see online, or in print, for that matter, is to remind myself before I even engage, that ALL content is heavily edited and curated. We only ever see the endproduct of all that effort. From there, my self image remains pretty much upbeat and intact.

  • Funny is where it’s at. If I follow you for the funny, and then your page gets serious – I’m out. I don’t have time for the problems of people I don’t know – I know enough people with problems in real life.

  • I have deleted Twitter (never posted, only joined to to follow our local high school’s sports scores) and didn’t want to be counted as an official user. I still have Facebook to watch my church’s services and to get the latest info for my LYS. Occasionally get on Instagram to catch up on the happenings of family members and the occasional friend that I haven’t seen in a long time. So, basically a minimal social media user.

  • I haven’t been on FB in ten years, and that was my last social media interaction. I never signed up for Twitter, never signed up for TikTok, never signed up for Insta. They all leave me feeling like I ate too many Cheetos. I can feel bad on my own; I don’t need any help. I do have a laptop; I don’t have a phone. I do scroll through knitting reddit; I don’t have an account.

    Reading the comments here is nice- the vast majority of the general public, as far as I can tell, think I’m insane (though they can never quite elaborate on the why….?). It’s nice to see so many others here have taken the same route!

  • Such an interesting essay. I am not on any social media (except for goodreads, which I don’t keep up with anyway). I know I miss stuff, but on balance, I think it is better for me. Fewer comparisons, more reality. I have friends that I can connect with in real life or on FT, when distance precludes real life, and that’s enough. I think more social media would also serve to increase my desire to spend money and best not to do so.

  • When FB was new – I asked my then teenage daughter if I needed an account. She replied “ no Mom you’re a loser and losers don’t need FB accounts!” I have been thankful ever since. She doesn’t think I’m a loser now and no longer Has a FB account so you know who was the loser?LOL.

  • I’ve cut right back on my Facebook use due to the amount of moaning about the news by my uni friends (bit of an anxiety trigger). I’ve never actually left it though, but I’m considering it. My social media vices are Instagram and YouTube but I’m very selective about who I follow and what I watch (it’s like eating – what you consume via your eyes and ears affects you).

  • I first joined Facebook when it was time for my 40th reunion. It allowed me to find and stay in touch with fellow classmates, who are scattered all over the globe. Same for cousins who I don’t see often. About 95% of my IG feed is knitting related, and the other 5% are kitties and huskies! I set a timer when I open FB, no more than 20 minutes, then I’m off. IG is more difficult, cuz I’m love with all the beautiful yarns and knitting projects I see there.

  • I don’t use social media much anymore. No Twitter, but a little Instagram and FB. I’ve unfollowed all haters, grumps, and anyone who ruins my mood. If someone says something nasty to me or one of my friends, he or she is added to my list of people who can’t see my new posts. It’s become a pleasant space, but sadly, a few of my favorite people are no longer there because of the bad stuff. I would never delete my Facebook account because it’s something of a travel diary.

  • Well Max & MDK people, I have found that over the years, this very site ranges widely enough to keep me adequately informed about lotsa Stuff Going On. I’m not sure if anybody else in my life notices, but I certainly am aware of how many sentences I start with “I learned from my knitting ladies blog that…“ And it’s only getting better with the help of Max & Suzan & Franklin & Brandi & DG & Sonya & Jeanette & Kaffe & Patty! So yeah, this is my spot for How the World Turns.

    Off FB years ago because they lied about sharing our data, then kinda apologized & then did it again, lied…who can trust them?

    I just turned 60 so the whole digital world was never my starting place. I see my phone & laptop as tools to help me but not as main sources of contact & connection (ok except email & texting but that’s not SM).

    I also do not watch news anymore & I don’t think this is medieval, it’s something that helps me maintain my sanity. The so-called news is not really news, it’s 99% bad news. My inner guidance for years (especially recent ones) has been “If there’s something I need to know that’s going on in the world I will find out about it.” Sometimes I go looking, because I live in wildfire country (as do most of us on the West Coast), and there are personal safety things you just have to watch out for. As a career nurse I know how to find trustworthy info on health related stuff.

    When I heard the Queen died it was completely by accident, but my response was to call my 94-year-old uncle that I hadn’t connected with in over a year. Gotta stay in touch with the elders! But celebrities? I got enough to do managing my own life. Oprah may be one exception.

  • Just never did social media. Never missed it. Don’t understand the majority of what the article talks about. I have real friends and spend time working on those relationships.

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