Why I quit Social Media

Sarmad Khan

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People ask why I write. The truthful answer is: I don’t know what else to do. I’ve already been doing it for a decade, and it’s how I make my money. Starting a new vocation doesn’t appeal to me. (I like to avoid high-risk, low-reward effort at all times.)

That’s not to say my writing’s great. It’s better (and more profitable) than my music — but in much the same way that a Mazda can scorch a Hyundai over a quarter-mile.

The first person to ever tell me my writing wasn’t any good — aside from angry Internet comments — was someone very, very close to me. And it cut pretty deep. So I stopped writing because the idea of doing something that actively turned off someone so close to me is a fate worse than a thousand lashes. That person left my life. When she did, I started writing again. A lot.

I began pouring my every waking thought onto paper, writing about monsters that scare me. And, like the very best monsters in all the most thrilling films, the monsters I fear the most are the demons who hold me under their possession. And after a lot of spilled words and stray thoughts, I was able to reach an uneasy conclusion: I had a disease. I was full of shit. And, then, I looked in the mirror and realized — in no small or uncertain terms — that I was the shit I was full of. I suppose this essay is an atonement. Or a correction. Or an acknowledgment, at the very least. Whatever it is, it’s all I have: As I said, I don’t know what else to do.

I bring this all up to talk about social media.

For what felt like an eternity, I felt a need to be heard. I felt a need to be seen. And for a long time, I quenched this thirst by posting incessantly to social media. 20,000 Facebook posts. 50,000 tweets. I did it because I was lonely, and also because and the idea of talking to people in real life scared me — because in real life I can’t edit or curate myself the way I can on my touch-screen. I could always be clever. I could always be interesting. I could always be liked, adored, envied, and admired. But I was sharing too much of myself — the wrong parts of myself — and then I lost my actual sense of self. I became lonely because I realized that the real me had vanished and fled to unreachable, unknowable depths. I couldn’t even remember my life before I started filtering it through the lens of status updates.

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