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This is a guest post by Mehret Biruk from mehretbiruk.com.

In June 2017, she deleted her last standing social media account, Twitter, and wasn’t on any social media platform for three years. Here’s what she learned about staying connected with people without the aid of social media. 


Introduction

While I am by no means an expert on how to maintain an exuberant social life, I did manage a modest social life sans-social media. This is despite being kind of bad at maintaining constant communication with people.

Without a doubt, social media platforms make communication instant and effortless. 

With a click of a button, we can connect with hundreds, if not thousands, of people who share our interests, values, and views to build connections. We can show our love, support, and care through a quick like, a comment, or by sharing their posts.

When you remove that, communication becomes challenging.

It’s not as easy to stay updated on all the nitty gritty details of the lives of people in your life, and for them to stay updated on your life, without social media. It requires a bit more, okay a lot more, effort to show you love, support, and care about someone in the real world.


One of the dilemmas for people considering deleting their social media accounts is the question how do I stay connected post social media?

Since the spread of social media platforms, most of our communication has become digital, and specifically online and text based.

How do you communicate and stay connected with people without Facebook providing easy and instant access to your family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances?

There is no simple solution here.

In my experience, however, there are a few things you can do to maintain a modest social life without social media – group chats, going old school, and acceptance.


Three Practical Ways to Stay Connected Post-Social Media

Group Chats

The group chat is a new, context-specific, decentralized social network, structuring and enabling our social life, and providing interpersonal nourishment.

Group chats can be formed with any of the social groups that you belong to, including family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or interest-based communities. They are accessible and available on a number of apps and platforms, including iMessage and WhatsApp.

You can send/receive invites to family events, make plans to hangout with friends, organize a work meeting with colleagues, and, most importantly, share hilariously inappropriate memes with your friends via a group chat.

If you haven’t done so already, it is time to embrace the group chat.

Take the initiative to create one for your family or friend groups.

If you don’t have a friend group or a strong family tie, join a group chat online. Don’t forget to actively participate in the group chats that you are part of.

Go Old-School

Do you remember the good old days when people used to meet up in person and hang out just to catch up on life? 

Me neither, but it’s really nice.

While in-person hangouts require significantly more effort to plan, and the willingness to leave your house when you’d rather be doing anything but that, real life connection is so good for our soul.

When it is safe to do so, make the effort to hang out with people in person. Trust me, most people will be delighted to get your invitation for an in-person hangout. 

My favourite part about hanging out with people in person is the physical contact, whether it’s shaking hands, hugs, or the ability to make eye-contact while conversing. It is just so real and so human.

What About During COVID?

Thanks to the digital space, many communities have flourished online. There’s no lack of communities, no matter what your interest is, to join online. Eventbrite and Meetup are the two platforms I use to find events I’m interested in. 

If you can’t find one, create one.

I started Toronto’s Digital Wellness Meetup group looking to meet other like-minded individuals who were also interested in digital wellness and life-tech balance. It’s working out really well so far.

A phone call is another way to stay connected the old fashion way. A call can be almost as good as meeting in person. Again, you just have to initiate it and most people will be delighted to hear from you.

There is always going to be some awkwardness, a lull in conversation or misunderstanding when communication is in real time, but it gets better the more you do it. It is so worth it.

Acceptance

Life is simply different when you disconnect from social media.

Accept that you will miss out on things simply because they happened on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Accept that no one will call you to tell you about what they had for lunch, or the lyrics that just pop into their head. 

That’s okay.

You won’t text your friends what you had for lunch every other day either, because that’s just weird. That’s okay, too.

Accept that communication will be different, sparse and far between, especially with those not so close to you.

It’s just the way of being off social media.

Accept it.


One thing is for certain; the way we communicate with one another has dramatically changed since the proliferation of social media platforms.

As such, life is different when you quit social media. There won’t be likes, comments, and followers in real life. There is only body language, conversations and real-life narrations of the living.

Truth be told, I don’t think I would have had a better social life for those three years if I had stayed on social media. Although I am now back on Instagram, I don’t find myself feeling any more connected to people, or that it has improved my social life in any significant way.

The connection I have outside of social media will always feel deeper and more meaningful than receiving or sending a quick like, or an emoji reaction.  

Finding ways to stay connected offline is a process.

It is also dependent on your personality, the culture of the place you live in, or your relationships, among many other factors.

Whether you decide to stay on social media, or say your final goodbye to Instagram, always cherish the moments you get to connect with people, make sure to have the best time possible, and be open to different ways you get to meet new people and expand your social experience.


If you like this post, sign up for Mehret’s curated weekly newsletter on life-tech balance and digital well-being. Five ideas delivered right to your inbox. Every Tuesday. Subscribe here.

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