I was having a casual conversation with a friend when he mentioned this notion of me going rogue. He was referring to my departure from most social media, but I hadn’t ever thought about it like that.
The definition of rogue in this context is:
Behaving in ways that are not expected or not normal, often in a way that causes damage.
My intention wasn’t really to detach from the social network, only to decondition myself from the horrible habits I’d developed.
I found myself spending hours at a time scrolling. I was conditioned to seek the dopamine response that came with it. My mind understood how accessible it was, and subsequently developed a habit around it. I found I’d be scrolling away while eating, in between sets at the gym, and even during lectures. It was worst when I’d first wake up, or before I went to bed.
Now, these were the clear patterns I wanted to disturb. I’d say I’ve accomplished this, for the most part, but there have been some damaging second-order effects.
My departure coincided exactly with the beginning of the pandemic. I’ve removed myself from the online social network—but I’ve also removed myself from the only social network.
As such, my ability to build and maintain communication lines has diminished. At the time I departed from social media, it was reasonable to believe that in-person communication would be sufficient to socialize. A few weeks later the pandemic hit. I had to make a decision—rescind the commitment I made to myself to break these patterns or succumb to maintain social relations.
I’m still not sure if there was a right approach.
Additionally, I believe my predisposition that online networks are the only way to socialize is false.
In the last few months, I’ve had a few serendipitous encounters, despite my desire to detach in this way: run-ins on walks, encounters at the grocery store, and even, stopping at the same stoplight.
Sure, the encounters end a little differently; instead of saying “Goodbye!”, one vehicle turns left and the other proceeds straight—I still categorize this as a social event (or maybe I’m delusional).
A part of me has enjoyed these social interactions. After all, their scarcity makes them a little more special.