This is a guest post from Mehret Biruk, over at mehretbiruk.com. She writes about digital minimalism and spending less time online, and more time in the real world!
In June 2017, I deleted my last standing social media account- Twitter. I wasn’t on any social media platform for three years.
Here’s what I’ve learned about staying connected with people without the aid of social media.
While I am by no means an expert on how to maintain an exuberant social life, I did manage a modest social life sans-social media despite being kind of bad at maintaining constant communication with people.
Without a doubt, social media platforms make communication instant and effortless.
With a click of a button, we can connect with hundreds, if not thousands, of people who share our interests, values, views, and build connections. We can show our love, support, and care through a quick like, a comment, or by sharing their content.
When you remove that, communication becomes challenging.
It’s not as easy to stay updated on all the nitty gritty details of the lives of people in your life, and for them to stay updated on your life. It requires a bit more, okay a lot more, effort to show you love, support, and care about them.
One of the dilemmas for people considering deleting their social media accounts is the question how do I stay connected post social media?
Since the spread of social media platforms, most of our communication has become digital, and specifically online and text, based.
How do you stay connected and communicate with people without Facebook providing easy and instant access to your family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances?
There is no simple solution here.
In my experience, however, there are a few things you can do to maintain a modest social life without social media: group chats, going old school, and acceptance.
3 practical ways to stay connected post-social media
Group chats can be formed with any of the social groups you belong to, including with family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or interest-based communities. They are accessible and available on many number of apps and platforms, including iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.
You can send/receive invites to family events, make plans to hangout with friends, organize a work meeting with colleagues, and, most importantly, share hilariously inappropriate memes with your friends.
If you haven’t already, it is time to embrace the group chat.
Take the initiative to create one for your family or friend groups. If you don’t have a friend group or a strong family tie, join a group chat online. Don’t forget to participate actively in the group chats that you are part of (note to self).
Do you remember the good old days when people used to meet up in person and hang out just to catch up on life?
Me neither, but it’s really nice.
While in-person hangouts require significantly more effort to plan, and the willingness to leave your house when you’d rather be doing anything but that, real life connection is so good for our soul.
When it is safe to do so, make the effort to hang out with people in person. Trust me, most would be delighted to get your invite for an in-person hangout session.
My favourite part about hanging out with people in person is the physical contact, whether it’s shaking hands, hugs, or the ability to make eye-contact while conversing. It is just so real and so human.
What about during covid?
Thanks to the digital space, many communities have flourished online. There’s no lack of communities, no matter what your interest is. Eventbrite and meetup are the two platforms I use to find events I’m interested in.
If you can’t find one, create one. I started Toronto’s Digital Wellness Meetup group looking to meet others who were interested in digital wellness and life-tech balance. I have met a few people from the group.
A phone call is another way to stay connected the old fashion way. A call can be almost as good as meeting in person.
There is always going to be some awkwardness, a lull in conversation or misunderstanding when communication is in real time, but it gets better the more you do it, and it’s so worth it.
Life is simply different when you disconnect from social media.
Accept that you will miss out on things simply because they happened on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Accept that no one will call you to tell you about what they had for lunch, or the lyrics that just pop into their head.
You won’t text your friends what you had for lunch every other day either, because that’s just weird. That’s okay, too.
Accept that communication will be different, sparse and far between, especially with those not so close to you.
It’s just the way of being off social media.
One thing is for certain; the way we communicate with one another has dramatically changed since the proliferation of social media platforms.
As such, life is different when you quit social media. There won’t be likes, comments, and followers in real life. There is only body language, conversations and real-life narrations of the living.
Truth be told, I don’t think I would have had a better social life for those three years if I stayed on social media. Although I am now back on Instagram, I don’t find myself feeling any more connected to people, or that my social life has improved greatly.
The connection I have outside of social media will always feel deeper and more meaningful than receiving or sending a quick like, or san emoji reaction.
Finding ways to stay connected is a process. It is also dependent on your personality, the culture of the place you live in, or your relationships, among many other factors.
Whether you decide to stay on social media, or say your goodbye to Instagram, always cherish the moments you get to connect with people, make sure to have the best time possible, and be open to different ways you get to meet new people and expand your social experience.