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Why I Pulled the Plug on Social Media and Deleted My Accounts

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If you can’t find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram anymore, it’s because I permanently deleted all my accounts.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a political post. Mass censorship and fact-checking were just the icing on the cake. The truth is, I’ve been wanting to delete my social media accounts for a long time and I’ve done it before.

The last time I temporarily deleted social media, it was a personal decision. It was too addicting and distracting, but that can be overcome with self-discipline.

This time the social media companies played the leading role in my decision to leave them behind for good.

I don’t like the platforms Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become in terms of security, privacy, bias, ads, algorithms, censorship, dishonesty, hypocrisy, and more.

Enough is enough.

Does This Sound Familiar?

Every day I wake up eager to see what the algorithms decided to show me this morning. Spoiler: it’s advertisements.

Then, I willfully let each platform harvest my data and breach my privacy while I make a sandwich.

In the evening, I remind Twitter which trends I’m not interested in (like it matters) and waste precious hours scrolling through memes in the explore tab of Instagram while I ignore my family.

I’m just being honest while I make a point here. I don’t want to paint the picture that I’m some kind of social media junkie, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t addicting.

You know they intentionally design these apps to be addicting so they can exploit you for money, right?

It’s common knowledge that they use extensive data mining algorithms to leverage the most personal and private aspects of your life into profit.

Yet, every day I put up with this nonsense because…?

Social media isn’t fun anymore โ€” and it’s definitely not social. It does more harm than good in my life. It’s not essential to my business or career. I’m not comfortable using these platforms and I can make better use of my time elsewhere.

Choosing Which Platforms to Abandon

If you’re not a big social media person, this article might sound a bit dramatic. But if you’re active on social media, you’re probably curious about the impact this will have on my career, business, and personal life.

As with every major decision I make, this is not one I took lightly or made hastily. However, I can understand why it might seem like this was an emotional and impulsive decision, which is, in part, why I’m writing this article.

So I want to explain why I chose to abandon certain platforms and what I’m planning to replace them with, if anything.

Facebook

This one was easy. I never use my Facebook account and I don’t like anything the company stands for, so I deleted it. I’m not planning to replace Facebook at all.

Good riddance.

Twitter

Twitter was difficult for me to delete. The account was dedicated to helping freelancers learn how to succeed โ€” a noble purpose.

It helped new people discover my website and it’s how I stayed up to date with what was going on in the design and technology industries. I’ve met some amazing people through Twitter and I’m going to miss interacting with them.

My Twitter account had also seen steady growth in the last two years, but to what end? Why am I trying to fight an algorithm to get more Twitter followers?

My account had 1,427 followers at the time of deletion. What would 5,000 or even 10,000 followers have done for me? At what cost?

There was no good answer.

Twitter is perhaps the most brazenly biased platform of them all. It’s also home to some of the most vicious and hostile people on the planet. I’m a pretty easygoing person, but I’ve blocked 212 accounts on Twitter โ€” all while tweeting about something as innocent as freelancing.

Everything seems fine until you accidentally offend someone โ€” then the self-proclaimed “tolerant” and “accepting” crowd comes for blood.

It’s also a tremendous amount of work for very little reward.

Only 4% of my website traffic has come from Twitter in the last 5 years. That’s about 3,000 visits out of 75,000. So, I’m not concerned about it affecting my career.

I’ve downloaded all my Twitter data and will be repurposing it into articles, newsletters, and content for The Freelance Institute โ€” which are all places I’d prefer to invest my time and energy anyway.

Meet other freelancers, ask questions, and learn about freelancing! ๐Ÿ˜„ The Freelance Institute gives you everything need to become a successful freelancer, all in one place. Get the best advice by talking directly to experienced freelancers. Ask questions, make friends, share resources, and more! Join The Freelance Institute

I deleted my company Twitter account as well because I never posted there. For now, I’m keeping The Freelance Institute Twitter account active and letting someone else manage it.

Instagram

My personal Instagram was essentially a digital scrapbook. I used it to document special moments and share memes with friends and family.

But you know what? I can accomplish the same thing with a microsite or separate blog โ€” and without the invasion of privacy.

I’ll miss laughing at memes.

But I won’t miss the explore tab and the fact-checkers. I won’t miss getting ads for products I’ve only spoken about. I won’t miss the reels or the shopping tab they’ve made front and center. Instagram has become an advertising platform, just like its parent company Facebook.

I’m only seeing a tiny fraction of content I care about anyway, thanks to the algorithm.

Guess what? That’s not why I signed up for Instagram. I want to see photos from people I care about, not memes and ads.

Yet, thanks to the addicting design of the platform, I waste 10-15 hours a week using it. It’s the first thing I check when I wake up and the last thing I check before going to bed โ€” for absolutely no reason other than it’s addicting.

I also deleted The Freelance Institute and Matthew’s Design Co. Instagram accounts because they simply aren’t necessary. I’ll be designing and building a new website to host content for The Verse Project.

YouTube

I rarely use YouTube (even to watch videos), so this one is easy for me to delete.

I haven’t done it at the time of this writing, but I’m moving the few videos I have on YouTube over to Vimeo instead. With tools like Zoom and Loom available, I can keep short tutorial videos there and share them directly with my audience.

More well-produced content can be hosted on Vimeo and I can still watch YouTube videos without an account when I need help with something.

Choosing Which Platforms to Keep

Google and Apple

If I’m going to practice consistency and maintain “symmetry of logic”, it stands to reason that I’d delete Google or Apple as well.

They’ve done just as much censoring, fact-checking, privacy-breaching, and data-harvesting, right? There are two reasons I’m keeping Google and Apple:

  1. They aren’t social networks. They aren’t addicting or a waste of time.
  2. They’re deeply integrated into my life (Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Maps, iPhone, Macbook, etc)

It’s not realistic to abandon either of them completely, but I can adjust how I use them. I switched my default search engine to DuckDuckGo as a first step.

Pinterest

I really like Pinterest. It’s going to make leaving Instagram much easier. As more and more people move away from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I think Pinterest will flourish.

Dribbble

Dribbble is sort of like Instagram for professional designers. I can spend more time posting there, which will also help boost my career!

LinkedIn

Honestly, I never used LinkedIn, but maybe I will now. I have over 1,200+ connections there. It might be worth using LinkedIn more strategically.

What I’m Doing Instead

I’m going to save vast amounts of time and energy by not having these accounts. At 15 hours a week, I could save up to 780 hours per year.

Here’s what I’m planning to do with it:

  • Write more articles on this website
  • Publish more emails to my newsletter
  • Mentor freelancers in The Freelance Institute
  • Prioritize my design business
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Spend more time reading books
  • Spend more time outside
  • Spend more time on my hobbies & interests
  • Prioritize my health and fitness

I think there are a lot of people (maybe even you) who feel this way, but never had the courage to take action.

I’m not saying you should (this was a deeply personal decision for me), but if you’ve been considering moving away from social media, I hope this article gives you some insight and perspective that can help you decide for yourself.

Unless social media platforms are your primary source of income or play a major role in your career, it might be easier than you think to move away from them.

How Does It Feel?

Liberating. I feel free. Like a massive weight of expectations and status quo has been lifted off my shoulders. Part of me is expecting to go through some kind of “withdrawal”, but once the muscle memory of tapping app icons wears off, I believe this decision will change my life in a major way.

What do you think? Could you break free from social media? Send me an email or join me in The Freelance Institute!

About Matt Olpinski
Matt runs his own web design and development company Matthewโ€™s Design Co. and teaches thousands of freelancers how to succeed through his personal blog, newsletter, and community for freelancers โ€” The Freelance Institute.
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