Consciously Uncoupling: Why a Former SMM is Taking a Break From Social Media

It is with an exhausted and frustrated spirit that I have decided to separate from most social media channels – especially you, Instagram. I have been trying for quite some time to be a “good blogger” by sharing content almost exclusively on there in order to see what might be possible between us. As such, I’ve come to the conclusion that while you were once my happy place, it’s time for me to go back to my private, personal accounts. The influencer life (not that I achieved that status, nor expected to) isn’t for me. I, however, won’t be going so far as to delete my accounts – no matter how tempted I might be. I do work in digital marketing after all, so it’s important for me to still have access to these channels and to keep up with what the latest developments. I am a person first and foremost, so I need to do what’s best for my peace of mind. The decision to consciously uncouple, and remove my professional profile was a difficult one, and I ask for your respect and privacy at this time. Thank you.

Okay, real talk time.

I am so, so, SO tired of social media. It probably is a lasting effect of the seemingly never-ending pandemic, but it’s true. The profiles I was following as LattesLinksLegos were #KCBloggers or #KCInfluencers for the most part, and they just seemed to be so far removed from reality and best practices that it made my head hurt from rolling my eyes nonstop.

A case study on ignoring social media best practices

We all remember what happened on January 6, yes? Ok.

As soon as I saw what was happening in D.C., I went into PR/SMM mode and messaged my manager recommending we pause any social media we had planned for the day. Since she’d been in meetings all day she had no idea what was going on.

After giving her a quick run down she completely agreed; this was not the time for brands to do any sort of posts. #MarketingTwitter was in agreement, and this was happening with big brands across the board.

For those who aren’t as familiar with this sort of a situation, if brands continued as scheduled, they could really only be seen 1 of 2 ways: incredibly tone deaf or jumping the gun and commenting #TooSoon.

Unfortunately, I stumbled across a few KC personalities who didn’t know these best practices.

What not to do: Fail to fully modify a previously scheduled post

A KC fashion blogger I followed had a pretty large audience, and so she has the clout (or financial means) to partner with a professional photographer to take all of her photos. As a result, she has a pretty large stockpile of photos to choose from. Great for a person who does that as a living, right? Well…

When I was scrolling Instagram that afternoon, I stumbled across the picture she shared after reading about the developing events. It struck me as a bit odd, so I didn’t like her post or comment like I normally would have.

The photo was perfectly lit and her styling was impeccable, as always. The issue was that she was sitting on a window seat, smiling at the photographer through the window’s reflection. Like, full on pageant queen smile. Even though she wasn’t looking directly at the camera, it was hard to miss.

Not only that, but she still had the company who made her sweat suit tagged in the image and was using their branded hashtags at the end of it. It didn’t match up with the main message in her post at all, which was a prayer she had shared from her father’s funeral.

As someone who had to live and breathe social media for work for years, I could tell what had happened. She had previously created posts she could choose from, so she chose one where the photo was in a spot that has a deeper meaning to her and added the prayer as a comment on how she was coping with the day’s events. She just might have had certain obligations she had to fulfill with a partner for that particular image (like the tagging or the hashtag), so she did it. Not the best execution, but it is what it is.

The next day, I happened to notice that she shared an all text post to her Stories (unusual for her). In it, she was going off about how hateful some people could be and how she was getting so much blow back from a post she’d shared that meant a lot to her. Instantly I knew the post she had to have been referring to: The window seat pic.

After a lot of internal debate, I sent her a DM. In it, I explained that I knew that I might risk being blocked for the message, but I wanted to help her understand what the issue was.

Her initial reaction was anger (which, let’s be honest, if you have a practical stranger telling you how you fucked up – however nicely or well-intentioned – is understandable). But as I continued “talking” with her, she could see what I was saying was true.

Unfortunately, unlike me, a lot of her audience decided to comment publicly on the oddity of her original post. In an attempt to save face, as I suspected, she had gone back and eventually removed the branded hashtags from her original post and all that was left was the tag (for those not as familiar with Instagram, these aren’t visible unless you click on the photo) and the prayer.

The issue with editing after the fact, is that it made it look like she never messed up in the first place. What would have been better, would have been to make a post in her timeline acknowledging the mistake and promising to do better in the future. She’s human, mistakes happen. Brands have to admit when they mess up all the time. By posting an angry and defensive story, it just kind of pointed more to her mistake.

In the end, she apologized for her vitriol and thanked me for helping her understand what had happened. Hopefully, she’ll be able to avoid this sort of issue again in the future. I just wish she hadn’t been forced to learn that lesson in such a brutal way.

What not to do: Ask for memes for a photo the day-of an attempted coup

This instance was one I found on Twitter, and it was just in poor taste.

As photos from the AP and Press-Ganey started flowing into news streams from the Capitol Building, most people started sharing them as a testimony to what sort of a historical situation was going down. Some people even went so far as starting to identify the insurrectionists involved.

One of the easiest to remember pictures was of the Q-anon believer who happened to be dressed like a Viking (I believe he refers to himself as a shaman, but I don’t want to contribute to his online reputation by linking to anything about him). Anway…

A local PR firm owner happened to share the picture on Twitter. But she wasn’t doing so to try to figure out who this asshat was. Nope. She asked people to send her the best meme using his picture. And the person who “won” would get a virtual fist bump (I guess she was planning on sharing and tagging it with her followers?).

This was a person who definitely should’ve known better.

I was the bigger person with the tone-deaf blogger on Instagram and didn’t comment on the picture. I couldn’t help myself here, I really couldn’t.

My response: Too soon.

I was proud of myself. I avoided my go-to Twitter language of GIFs, and I didn’t do snark by using a hashtag.

My 2 word comment received more interactions than her entire post. I don’t think she received a single “entry.” Eventually, she wound up dirty deleting.

With Twitter, it’s easy to feel like your comment is just going to get washed away in the never-ending stream. And that does happen sometimes. But you still need to think before you Tweet. Because even when things are deleted, the Internet is forever.

I didn’t do it, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if someone grabbed a screengrab of that Tweet and will use it in the future as to why that PR firm shouldn’t be hired for a project. Talk about a bad look.

Finding myself beyond social media

Ok, so back to where I started.

Like I said, I can’t delete social media in it’s entirety because of my career. And it’s been a part of my life for almost 16 years now, so there’s a lot of historical record on how I’ve changed as a person that I’d hate to lose entirely. So where does that leave me? Aside from at a crossroads.

Consciously uncoupling from social media.

By definition, consciously uncoupling is “ending a relationship, but in a way that is viewed as a very positive step by both parties, who mutually believe their lives will be better for doing so.” Granted, social media (Instagram in particular, because that’s the one I probably wasted the most time on) doesn’t really care about me or what’s beneficial for my life, but the definition still seemed apt, because I’m willing to peacefully co-exist with it.

As such, I’ve taken a few steps so far in the process.

  • I’ve closed and deleted my blog-specific Instagram profile – Like I said before, most of the pages I followed there were other “brands” in Kansas City. As such, there wasn’t much genuine interaction and engagement. They collected followers and did “like for like” follows to expand their reach by promotions and giveaways. These sort of pages are always easy to distinguish because they have a lot more followers than people they follow. The reason? They do like for like and then go and delete the ones they followed after a set amount of time. It makes them seem more … popular, for lack of a better term.

    Genuine connections and authentic interactions have always been one of my favorite parts of social media. When you’re just constantly pimping out branded or sponsored posts, that element doesn’t happen. Not to mention, it becomes really easy to exist in an echo chamber of validation and become disconnected from reality.
  • I privatized my personal Instagram profile – In short, if I don’t know you, you have to request to view my pictures. Not only that, but I’ve started cleaning up the list of who I follow from that page. I’m removing the celebrities (again, no real interactions there) and any profiles where I don’t feel joy by following them. If you’re a parenting meme page, or someone with beautiful and inspirational messages, I’m far more likely to follow you than if you’re posting pictures on the regular without masks in restaurants or bars, or hanging out with people who I know aren’t in your bubble. And if you use your channel to primarily hawk your MLM and talk about being a #BossBabe, hard pass. This goes doubly for people I know in real life. Y’all definitely know what you should be doing to stay safe right now. Seeing your pictures of attending pop-up holiday-themed bars or going on vacation drive my anxiety up, and make me question your judgement. I’d rather not see you being stupid since you apparently refuse to listen to advice from experts. So, I’m not going to see them. It’s better for both of us in the long haul.
  • I’m going to start spending less time on my phone – I’ve already started trying to do this, and my battery life is thanking me for it. Last month and December, when I was spending way too much time, energy and brain power on social channels, it was a common occurrence for me to have to plug up around dinner to recharge. Since I’ve primarily started using my phone only for listening to podcasts during work or checking things like email or bank accounts, that’s a rarity. Of course, there are still times where I slip back into old habits and absentmindedly open an app and start reading or liking things. So how am I going to combat that? Well, writing has always been therapeutic for me, so I’m going to try to get better posting here more consistently. (Lucky you!) Additionally, I’m trying to start reading more again after the boys go to bed. Anything that helps keep my mind busy, and stops me from resorting to the usual apps.
  • I’m going to revamp my LinkedIn – Yeah, this one’s weird. But LI is the profile I hate the most. Again, with people collecting people just for connections and posting the most random stuff, it irritates me. So, I’m going to try to experiment with it a little bit to see if I can find a way to use it more for branding myself as a digital marketer. I figure it could be a good place to share my Links based posts, and since the platform as a whole annoys me, I don’t run the risk of spending a ton of free time there (not to mention I don’t even have its app). Meh who knows.

So, there you have it. I’m divorcing social media, for the most part. I’ll still engage when I have or want to, but I’m no longer going to let it take up so much of my time or energy. I think I feel a little better already.

5 thoughts on “Consciously Uncoupling: Why a Former SMM is Taking a Break From Social Media

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