Social Silence

Absence of social media encourages more meaningful relationships and conversation

More stories from Hailey Novak

Social Silence

Everyone has expected my semester without my most used social media accounts to be really difficult and dramatic, and most people have inquired about the negative side effects I’ve experienced.

So for all of who you are curious, I’m going to tell you the most obvious and important thing I’ve learned so far from doing something that may not seem that life-changing on the surface.

Without the distraction of strangers, acquaintances and people I dislike crowding my social media, I’ve been able to clearly see who my real friends are. (Stay tuned, it gets less cheesy).

Social media makes it really easy to be passive aggressive, to humble brag and especially to complain. It’s also an outlet we use to communicate to an audience that we’re not guaranteed to receive a response from.

Without it though, I’ve been forced to engage almost solely in face-to-face contact with others. When I share my thoughts and feelings, I’m sharing them directly with someone who is going to give me a response, rather than the cyber world where everyone appears to be there but you’re not forced to engage directly with anyone.

Simply put, my list of “followers” has shrunk dramatically, and I’m actually more than OK with it.

While certain communication is more fit or convenient for social media than others, like sharing a video on Facebook instead of showing it to all of your friends individually, a lot of people are so plugged in that it’s replaced all other forms of communication.

Why walk over to your friend’s house to tell them about your day when you can just Snapchat them from your bed, right?

Since I don’t have that option, I do make that effort now when I normally wouldn’t have.

So the other day I was doing just that. I walked the 20-foot distance over to my friend Sam’s house and sat on her kitchen counter as I caught up with her about our weekends and the admittedly crappy day I was having.

I could have tweeted about it to my couple hundred followers to get it off my chest, and a month ago I can guarantee you I would have. But I made the effort to have a more meaningful conversation face-to-face instead, and it made me realize how this “no social media” idea was more than just a mere challenge for myself.

I woke up the morning after our conversation to find a small envelope on my couch with “Hails” scrawled in familiar handwriting on the front. I opened it up to find a pink card with an encouraging message written in gold, sparkly glitter. (Yes, it really was as cute as it sounds)

Long story short, the card contained some much needed encouraging words from my friend/neighbor after she realized how I had been feeling.

Hands down, I would take one little handwritten card like this from a friend over a bunch of favorites on a tweet any day.

As I read the card before class that morning, it not only turned my day around, but it sunk in how the people I call my close friends has changed. I only realized how much impact personal relationships are affected by communication and how much they can change when I removed surface level interactions from my life.

Taking the time to have real conversations with others has prioritized who I give my time to, and more importantly, who I make time for.

While the followers have disappeared, the non-cyber relationships have grown, which is something I hadn’t even considered when I first made this semester -long commitment.

So if you’re still wondering what the negatives are, I can tell you they are few and far between.