When I disabled the facebook account I had used since 2006 or seven, I didn't think too far ahead. I never gave myself alternative options for building relationships, with other folks who had forgotten (or never learned) ways to relationship without social media.
Future me would never tolerate such reckless disregard for basic planning. 🙄
It's been over 7 years since. How have I fared?
1. It's not more difficult to have a social life.
The folks I interface most with now don't use facebook groups to organize. They message, call, tell me in-person, or use a dedicated tool.
This is how I learned that evite still lives.
What I don't have is a social life which allows me to engage simultaneously with a large number of friends.
2. Surprise is back on the menu.
I get to be genuinely surprised by things that people tell me, because I didn't find out in advance through a feed. When my friends wanted to tell me they were expecting their firstborn, they did it over brunch. The happy news went well with hollandaise egg english muffin, and a walk in the sun.
My birthday messages and cards come from a few people who find their own ways to remind themselves that it's my birthday. Rather than from an algorithm nudging humans to send me validation with a tap that prefills a greeting and sends it into my notifications.
I've never cared for birthdays, so I give myself permission to be cynical here.
3. I've discovered how to "slow" relationships.
Slow relationships aren't difficult. What they are is, more deliberate. Instead of broadcasting, it's more focused. Text messages, voice messages, voice calls, video calls, and email—use any combination of these with which you're comfortable.
I'm also experimenting with more themed conversations, like those which you could find on a forum or bulletin board. The concept is that you choose and opt-in to those conversations.
I think a new spin on book clubs would appeal to me, and possibly others too. (2022: I was wrong, Paperstraw is dead 😢)
I chose to not use social media for personal relationships because I wasn't sold on the value prop: we'll collect all your friends and family in one place for you. We'll make it nearly effortless to stay in touch.
More friends in less time isn't a solution I'm seeking.
I'm not advocating unnecessary friction. I'm saying that more focus and deliberate effort can be transformative for some of our interpersonal lives.
For a person who uses technology to make faster and easier as many activities as I do, my relationships are an aberration.
Each relationship takes more time. Yet, I'm much more satisfied with those relationships.
My cousin ended her latest email to me with: write back when you have a chance, I miss long meaningful email.
You're talking to the right person, fam.