In an era where technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are reshaping our daily lives, it’s important to re-evaluate our relationship with digital tools, especially social media. AI and tech innovations have transformed the way we interact online, offering new platforms for connection and content consumption. However, this digital evolution also presents challenges, such as the overwhelming presence of social media, which, despite its benefits, can adversely affect our mental health and personal well-being. As we navigate this tech-savvy world, finding a balance between staying connected and preserving our mental health becomes crucial. Embracing alternatives to traditional social media platforms can offer us more conscious ways to connect, learn, and share, reflecting the need to adapt our digital diets for healthier interactions in a technology-driven society.
It’s no secret that social media can be detrimental to your health and overall quality of life. From scrolling Instagram long into the night to being harassed by strangers on Facebook, you might find yourself more anxious than entertained after logging into most modern social media apps.
Numerous studies and leading medical institutions have highlighted that social media, with its addictive nature and often vitriolic interactions, can worsen anxiety in those predisposed to mental health issues. However, many of us may crave the enlightening dialogue that takes place on the internet, which can expose us to new ways of thinking and help us better contextualize modern society. Others might lack an in-person support system that can replace social media, or they may have issues meeting with others who can understand them for a variety of reasons, such as living in a rural area, having a disability that makes it difficult to leave home, or a busy schedule that precludes social outings.
If you’re finding it hard to disconnect without feeling isolated and unheard, consider these options to help reduce social media usage without becoming a recluse.
Usenet, which far predates modern social media like Twitter or Facebook, is a social network that relies on a system of servers and Usenet providers that host conversations from millions worldwide.
With Usenet, you download discussions sorted into newsgroups, which cover everything from LGBT rights to women’s fashion; you curate your own experience by subscribing to newsgroups that match your interests, helping tailor the information you receive.
One of the reasons that Usenet is so helpful for those going on a social media diet is because there is less instant gratification; you receive everything all at once in a download, then read at your leisure without the urge to respond immediately. If you so choose, you can upload your contribution to the discussion, but it won’t be instantaneous, which encourages you to be thoughtful with what you write and avoid knee-jerk arguments that you’ll later regret. It’s a great option for those who still want to stay connected with those who share their interests but who have difficulty disengaging.
Get Into a Blog Group
This is for those with a passion for sharing their long-form thoughts but who still want to be engaged with others. A blog group, similar to a webring, is a group of interconnected blogs by different people who share a common interest and who all link to one another on their page. You have complete control over your blog and what you choose to post, but you’ll also be able to get updates from others who have shared their perspectives, commenting and forming strong relationships with them over time.
While Usenet is a digest of many peoples’ opinions, blog groups are a smaller and more intimate experience, with the primary focus being on developing your own posts and uplifting others in the group when they write. It’s an excellent option for anyone who wants to share their opinions but may feel overwhelmed and stifled by social media, especially given the fast-paced, chaotic nature of these addictive platforms.
There are blog groups for any topic you can think of, usually hosted on places like WordPress or Blogger; all you need to do is find a blog group you like and ask to join. You can then develop a great collaborative relationship with others in the group, who can lend you insight into your mutual interests while encouraging your perspectives.
Join a Penpal Club
If you want an even slower and more mindful option, you might consider joining a penpal group, where you’ll be matched to someone who shares your interests; they may be across the world or only a few miles over, depending on who else has joined the service. This way, you get to develop meaningful relationships, often over many years, with a small group of people, getting to know them and developing your communication skills. There’s nothing more exciting than opening your mailbox to see that there’s a letter waiting for you, handwritten with love from someone far away, and it can help open you up to different perspectives as they start to share their life with you.
The modern world is chaotic and complicated, but we all long for a sense of belonging, which social media often falsely provides. You can still connect to others without overwhelming yourself through utilizing these methods, creating a richer and more authentic experience in the vastness of the Internet. With time, you may find that you don’t even miss places like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook, having found a brand new friend group that digitally uplifts you every day.