What happens when you die on social media platforms?
As an active user on social media platforms, it would be hard for me to leave like that for 72 hours. People in my life do not expect such thing from me, and doing it will leave them in wonder. Some of the fears I think of are, people who care about me would start worrying if something wrong with me is happening or if I am okay. For example, my parents do expect me to answer them on WhatsApp at anytime but since I’ve deleted the app and didn’t tell them about this project, they will worry about me. As for my friends, no one would guess about the project, I expect them to ask me if I broke up with my love and if my answer was negative their next question is about my wellbeing and if my answer is “I’m okay” they would say “Then why are you acting like a child?”. I don’t have a specific person who would notice my absence first because I use social media densely, I’m a member in several groups on social media platforms and not that quite person so once they start chatting and realize me not answering they’ll notice my absence. I don’t like making people worry about me and by deactivating my accounts I’m doing the exact thing. Also, I usually rely on the megabytes not on the dollars. Consequently, deactivating my accounts would cost me extra money because I’ll rely on text messages like old times(SMS). My communication habits will be forced to change. For example, after finishing any class, I send a message to my friends via WhatsApp immediately to ask them “Where are you guys” but now, I have to go and search for them or text them via SMS one by one.
When I decide to deactivate my social media accounts it means that I’m looking for moments of silence, a break from all the people in my life or I’m just escaping from this noisy world. When people find out they start wondering about what would make me disappear just like that. “What’s happening with you?”, “Are you okay?” or “Is anything going wrong with you?” as if deactivating a social media accounts reflects that I’m not feeling psychologically well.
After deactivating my account, I’ve noticed and discovered several things. First, I’m one of those users who are powerless victims of the technology. Second, social media platforms don’t want to lose me as their user. Third, driving has suddenly become safe. Forth, my smart phone is a meaningless product without social media applications. Fifth, spending time with your father at night without an active phone is actually full of enjoyment. Sixth, technology made our lives so much easier. Seventh, I will no longer believe anyone who says “I am able to live without any source of technology”.
I noticed that I, unconsciously, unlock my iPhone and enter Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat and then I remember that my accounts are not active anymore. I also cheated on the very first night by using another Instagram account to check updates. Furthermore, when something interesting happens around me, my mind automatically orders my hands to capture what’s happening on Snapchat.
Unusually, I see a missed call from my mom. I think she is worried about me. I called her and asked “What do you want?” she answered saying “I messaged you on WhatsApp and you didn’t answer me, why?”, I had to tell her about the assignment because she would either start worrying about me or starts doubting.
At night, when my father arrived home, he told me “I called you, no answers”, I answered him saying “Just for a while dad” he answered me saying “So you decided to focus on your studies finally?” and I replied with a yes. What I concluded from the last sentence reply from him is that the generation before us consider technology as a source of distraction that would affect our performance in anything.
The next day, I see one of my friends in campus and she immediately said “Nour, why did you delete your Instagram account? Yesterday I tried to tag on you in a photo and your name wasn’t there.” I answered her saying “I decided to deactivate my social media accounts because I need to focus on my studies”, she laughed and did not take me seriously.
Later that day, I was in Starbucks and I met a friend of mine and she asked me “Why aren’t you answering me on WhatsApp?” I replied saying “I’ve deleted all my social media accounts… I just need a break”. She said “I understand you, I’ve done that before. I stopped all my accounts for 10 complete days. I needed a break from my social life, I felt like not seeing anyone. I didn’t want to see what people were doing because I was feeling miserable and sad after breaking up with my boyfriend. I also removed all of my photos on Facebook. I felt the urge to free my mind for some time.” When my friend told me that I started thinking about the ways people back in time (before social networks) used to escape from their stressful lives. People back in time used to leave their neighborhood and go somewhere far from all the people they know. This made me compare between the people of yesterday and today and how they deal with their problems. Additionally, it made me conclude that the rise of technology, social media precisely, did not only change our morals and standards but also the way we treat things. Nowadays, our neighborhood is no longer made of streets and houses but of our friends on Facebook, followers on Instagram, etc.? People no longer move out of the hood to start a new life. Now, they delete their photos, videos and writings because what you post represents you as an individual. You’re what you share (Leadbetter, 2008). 1
At night, I activated my social media accounts. At that moment I lost my total attention on what my family was discussing and gave it all to my phone. I felt that something was found after losing it.
This assignment, in my opinion, gave me an idea of what would happen after my death. I can now somewhat know who would ask, worry, think and talk about me and to whom my absence matters the most. Deactivating social media account is like killing your entire social life and as if you no longer exist. What I missed the most is definitely WhatsApp.
1- Charles Leadbeater, We-Think: Mass innovation Not Mass Production: The Power of Mass