Why are you (on social media)?
“Microblogging pills” (MBP) are short posts containing random thoughts that cross my mind. Without necessarily any context or story behind them, raw and unedited.
One of my friends does not want kids. She doesn’t even want to get married. There’s no specific reason for that, or more specifically, there are a plethora of small reasons for that. That lifestyle is just not for her. Being in her late forties, however, and being a woman in Spain, she has had to endure all kinds of comments and questions from her family, friends, and work colleagues about that.
– Why aren’t you married? Are you a lesbian? It’s also OK, You can always adopt children with your partner.
– What are you waiting for? You are not going to get any younger.
– I would like to have grandchildren, why are you prioritizing your career over your life?
She is understandably pissed off about it. At a certain point, she decided to answer with a question, so whenever someone asked her “Why aren’t you married?” she would ask back “Why are you?“. When someone asked “Why don’t you have kids?” she would answer “Why do you?“.
Why aren’t you on social media?
I am not on social media. When someone asks me for my Facebook or LinkedIn profile, and I say I don’t have one, everybody asks “Why aren’t you on social media?”.
It’s a difficult question to answer. There are a plethora of small reasons mainly related to humanism, ethics, and privacy. Social media is the new smoking, not sitting. We know our data is being collected, profiled, and sold to third parties for targeted advertisement. We know we are the product, or more precisely, predicting and manipulating our future actions is the product. We know it’s bad for our mental health, for young people, for our focus and ability to work, and even for our democracies. We know social media is used to spread fake news and even empower genocides.
You can’t really answer all of that in a couple of minutes when someone is not really interested, but merely shocked by that fact, so I used to say something like “well, it’s for privacy reasons you know” or, lately, “they don’t add anything valuable to my life so I stopped using them”.
People then usually look at me like I am some kind of paranoid weirdo, an anti-social psychopath, or I have something to hide. You can see it in their eyes. Most people just look at me like that and quickly change subjects.
The worst for me, however, are the guys who really want to find out what’s wrong with me. Expose the anomaly. And they do all these stupid questions. Far beyond questioning why you are not “like everybody else”, they try to convince you that social media is useful because it allows them to stay in touch with their family and friends (like we didn’t do that before social media existed). These people sound to me like one of my friends in the early 00s. He smoked, and he was always trying to convince me that smoking was not that bad, and telling me how it helped him make friends at work, etc.
It pisses me off. Everybody tries to be cool at dinners talking about how bad Facebook and Instagram are, but they will look at me like I am from outer space when they find out I don’t have any social media account for real.
Why are you?
So I have decided to use the technique of my friend and start asking them back: why are you? Why are you on social media?
And I know that can be a very annoying question. Because deep inside, they know they are not there to stay in touch with their family or friends. They can visit them, call them, do a video call with them, or even write them an email. They are not there because “you need to be there”. I am not on social media and I have a perfectly normal life. They don’t need to be on social media because you can’t get a job without a LinkedIn account, or a business, or a relationship.
They are on social media because everybody else is, but they can’t think of a real reason why. And they know it.