Now May Not Be the Time to Boycott Social Media


Now May Not Be the Time to Boycott Social Media | Duluth Moms Blog

I was a late adapter to the world of social media. What finally got me to join back in the spring of 2011–which, trust me, was eons past when most of my peers had joined–was knowing that I was likely going to miss out on the news of my friend’s son being born. I saw her shortly before her due date and told her to “keep me posted!” Her frank reply was something like “well, you’ll likely have to hear about it from your fiancé (who she was connected to via social media at the time) because it’s just going to be easier for me to post it on Facebook.” At the time, I was pretty bummed that this good friend of mine (former roommate, in fact) wouldn’t reach out to me individually to share this news.  But, now, nine years later, I’m in a very different place with the value of sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. While I still have what I’d consider a love/hate relationship with social media most of the time, I think now more than ever, people should be connected to it.

Now, I’m not talking about your 86-year-old grandma who spends her days peacefully knitting and watching Jeopardy and is blissfully unaware of what Facebook is. She’s fine—let her be. I’m talking about Patty, your 52-year-old cousin who refuses to join on principal or Kelly, your 41-year-old neighbor who insists on communicating using mass emails. I don’t know about you, but I have had several interactions in the past few weeks with non-social media users where they’ve mentioned things like, “Wouldn’t it be great to organize something like _____ as a response to COVID-19?” The honest truth is that in every one of those conversations, the suggestions they’ve made are already happening—on Facebook, Twitter, etc. For better, and sometimes worse, social media has become a crucial place of connection and information at this moment in time.

If you’re reading this, congratulations, you’re already a social media user. But in the coming days you may encounter people who aren’t who might share their reasons for abstaining and also their annoyance at “missing out on things” because of their choice.  

I would argue there are a few valid reasons for not being a member of Facebook or other sites right now: 

  1. If you deal with anxiety and you find being on social media creates more stress and anxiety for you, stay off. Find other sources of reliable information.  
  2. If your only access to the Internet is outside of your home, don’t join right now. Just stay home. 

There may be other valid reasons for abstaining, but the following are the main reasons I hear which I don’t believe bear weight the same way they did even a month ago.

Now May Not Be the Time to Boycott Social Media | Duluth Moms Blog

“I Don’t Trust Them with My Information”

I get it. It is a little funny that we all share personal information about our lives via these social media platforms.  The reality, though, is that we all get to determine how much information we share. You don’t have to share much in order to create an account and you certainly don’t have to post every picture you take or share every thought that passes through your brain. I have plenty of friends who never post anything.  I see having an account similarly to showing up to an event and having a seat at the table. I can talk or eat as much as I want once I’ve arrived, but it’s important to at least attend. 

“I Don’t Want to Get Addicted”

I really get this argument as it was one of my concerns before I joined.  Let’s be honest, social media is perhaps the most amazing rabbit hole ever created.  That said, there are strategies you can put in place to limit the addictiveness. For example, you can set a timer for 15 minutes and log out once it goes off.  You can set an app limit on your iPhone that will kick you off once you’ve met your limit. You can also choose who you follow and unfollow to limit what information you see in the first place.  So, while this is a valid concern, there are also ways to avoid it becoming a problem. 

“I Don’t Want to Join Because I Want to Be Different”

This argument is the one that I think is the most important to address right now.  If I’m honest, this was definitely part of my reason for abstaining from Facebook originally. In a world where most people “jumped on the bandwagon,” it was kind of fun to be different in this way and not join in. Plus, at the time, I really didn’t know what I was missing.  But I think back to when my friend had her baby. As much as she loved me, my need to be special and contacted directly was pretty low on her list of priorities after having a new baby. Right now, given how fast decisions are being made and news is changing, sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become the easiest and most efficient way to disseminate information. For example, I’ve been added to several new Facebook groups in the past week which are sharing helpful content and I’m guessing you have, too. 

While last month, people may have had the margin to contact those who abstain from social media individually about things, the situation has changed in such a drastic way that the convenience of group communication which sites like Facebook provide trumps anyone’s need to be special and different right now, in my opinion. This pandemic has caused all of us to have to stop and evaluate our priorities. While the crusade to stay away from social media at times can be noble, right now, I’d argue it’s almost silly. There’s no need to recreate the wheel—trust me, there’s already a Facebook group working on whatever idea you have.

Now May Not Be the Time to Boycott Social Media | Duluth Moms Blog

So, if you end up talking to someone like Patty or Kelly in the coming days, someone who isn’t connected to social media and laments not being “in the loop,” encourage them to sign up for an account. They don’t have to share much and they can deactivate once this is all over, but they’ll probably be pretty amazed to see how social media sites are providing people a place to organize, encourage one another, distribute information and band together. There’s a time to be special but there’s also a time to be realistic and jump on the bandwagon and I believe that time is now. Yee-haw!

This article was written by past contributor, Lauren Mitchell. Thanks for returning to lend us your talents again, Lauren!