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  • Michael Engdahl

Why I'm Leaving Social Media (especially as a musician)

Updated: Dec 5, 2020


Let me openly admit first, that I haven’t had the best practices or self-control when it comes to social media and streaming apps for the last several years. Yes, there have been several ‘positives’ associated with being on social media, but I’ve come to a point in my life where it isn’t serving a purpose beyond wasting my time and energy. This is not a soapbox moment that I denounce social media and anyone who uses it, but rather an honest examination of how I have used/abused it and how I can make improvements to my life without it running in the background. These are thoughts from my own perspective and experience and should you find value in my words, I encourage you to explore this book and 'movement' mentioned in my post, and make an educated decision for yourself.


During December of 2019, right after my son’s first birthday, my wife and I decided to do a 30 day ‘digital detox’ where we logged out of all of our social media accounts, deleting them from our mobile devices, and putting concrete rules in place for some entertainment apps we kept. We were influenced to do this after reading Cal Newport’s ‘Digital Minimalism’ which made us question if we were using our digital tools, or rather, were they using us?


The key point of performing this detox for us was to take a good look at how we use social media (and other digital platforms) and honestly examine if they bring value to our lives or if they (in most cases) are a time waster. Besides Facebook and Instagram (which have been my main social media platforms) I’m an avid consumer of podcasts, music streaming services, and YouTube, not to mention Netflix and everything else in the entertainment category. So, we made it as simple for ourselves as possible - No Facebook or Instagram (we don’t use Twitter/Snapchat/whatever else) - delete the podcast app, email, and YouTube off our phones. We decided that music apps were okay to stay (can you really listen to too much music?) and we could only watch Netflix/Hulu if we were together or with friends/family.


Needless to say, we survived December! We got to enjoy Christmas with our family without...well without any noise or distractions. Less photos were taken. More meaningful conversations took place. Books were read and quality time was spent with our loved ones. I practiced more deeply than I had in years. Time slowed down in the best way and we felt free.


Fast forward a couple months, and despite our best intentions, our habits came back with a vengeance. For me, using social media has been a ‘tool’ to use to network with other musicians, follow my heroes, stay informed on upcoming gigs that I would want to check out, and promote my own stuff. Self-promotion has been one of the biggest, if not the biggest, reason for being active on social media. Today, it seems impossible to be found, discovered, or relevant without a social media presence. I’ve been a huge advocate for musicians to be active on these platforms in the past, and there’s nothing wrong with it, I just know for me and where I’m at right now, it’s not what’s best.


I certainly have my doubts and fears about leaving. Without these platforms, how am I supposed to be heard or discovered? How will anyone know when and where I’m playing next? Am I going to lose endorsements and gig opportunities because no one knows what I’m practicing on Instagram anymore?


HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITHOUT VIEWS AND LIKES!?


The question itself is the problem. My ‘success’ shouldn’t be based on how many people watched or liked my latest video. I shouldn’t be chasing validation from strangers regarding my craft (even though that’s exactly what I’ve been doing). It’s time to let go of that need for acceptance. That quest to quench the ego’s thirst - it’ll never happen. It will just transform into some other need or desire. As soon as you reach that goal, the goal post moves. That’s not a bad thing, as we all should strive to become better at XYZ thing, but if you’re pursuing that goal with ill intentions (i.e. your ego is your driving force) than it will never be enough. With that mentality, it doesn’t end well. That has been my biggest struggle and just because I’m making this change, it doesn’t magically go away.


But it’s going to get better. Maybe through all of this, my intentions will become more sincere and honest. There’s a whole level of untapped potential when you let go of who you think you are or who you need to be and begin to accept who you really are. There is a lot of growth that needs to take place and more important priorities which require my attention. Social media doesn’t have a place in all of that right now. Maybe one day it will again, but I don’t foresee that happening for a long time. I’m minimizing my digital footprint in pursuit of a more meaningful analog footprint. I’m excited to see what happens next.


-Michael


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