My Social Media Hiatus
I’ll be travelling most of the next month, so this is a fine time to officially announce my election-year hiatus from social media.
Never fear, I will continue blogging for EconLog. I will continue promoting my work on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll still use social media to publicize social events, especially Capla-Con 2020. However, from today until March 1, 2021, I will not participate in intellectual discussions on Facebook or Twitter.
My reason is simple: People go mad during presidential election years – and I refuse to be part of the madness.
Back in 2016, I wasn’t horrified by the election itself. While 2016 was a revolting spectacle, I hedonically adapted to the revolting spectacle of democracy decades ago.
No, what horrified me in 2016 was the transformation of many of my friends.
What transformation did I witness? I looked at many people that I had known for years, thinkers that I believed were – whatever our disagreements – rational and decent human beings. And I watched as they willingly surrendered to partisan irrationality and myopic rage. I saw brilliant minds proudly endorse frankly stupid positions. Even when I agreed with the conclusions, the arguments were awful. And arguments should not be awful. The whole thing was about as entertaining as watching a bunch of my friends inject heroin.
Despite all this, I stayed on social media. I tried to interpret the situation charitably. Perhaps the fault was mine – and even the best of thinkers falls short on occasion, right? Yet continuing the conversation with a calm and friendly tone did me little good. By the end of 2016, I had lost close friends. When I realized what had happened, I tried to win them back. I would take any of them back today, no questions asked. Yet the sad reality, I fear, is that these friends are forever lost to me.
This time around, then, I’m going to skip this ugliness, retreating deep into my Bubble. I’ll return when the collective anger has cooled. And no, I’m not defaulting on my “civic duty.” I’m doing my civic duty right now. As Jason Brennan (The Ethics of Voting) and Chris Freiman (Why It’s OK to Ignore Politics) ably argue, you are under no obligation to participate in this election. If you participate, though, you are obliged to remain a rational and decent human being the entire time.
Jan 24 2020 at 9:46am
I think you mean March 1, 2021, not 2020?
Jan 24 2020 at 11:49am
In 2008, I did the same thing, I stopped using Facebook in Feb 2008 with the plan to not go back until Jan 21, 2009. I still havent gone back.
Jan 24 2020 at 12:20pm
Last paragraph re “civil duties”.
One can dispense on his duty by voting. The huge time wasting is very very marginally useful, even assuming duty etc
Jan 24 2020 at 4:41pm
I took a conscious hiatus from Nov. 20, 2016 until Jan. 21, 2017. It was a needed break, and I can only imagine how chaotic things were in the wasteland left behind.
Part of my job at the time entailed being on Facebook. I had to create a ghost account, connected to no one and no preferences — and gave the ghost Admin privileges on the pages I needed it.
The detox is good for all of us. But I can tell you that while your even-handed reason will be missed, the daily grind will not care. In that two month period I was out, I heard from only nine people who noticed I had deactivated my profile, and one of them was pissed because he thought I had blocked him.
Good luck. We’ll be here.
Jan 25 2020 at 6:19am
I hope this does not mean even less response to comments on the blog.
Jan 27 2020 at 1:11pm
Has Bryan ever responded in the comments? I haven’t seen him engage at all.
Jan 27 2020 at 1:13pm
This is a very sensible approach. I considered deleting my FB account, but I’d miss out on too many family photos.
I’ve learned to ignore most political posts. It’s so much partisan signaling, and engaging with it is pointless. Too bad, really.
Jan 28 2020 at 3:42pm
Similar to robc, I gave up on social media entirely after a particularly bad response from a number of my online friends to a very unfortunate event about seven years ago. I decided that it was better for my real, face-to-face friendships to not be exposed to the foulness that social media can bring out in otherwise normal, stable, kind, people.
All of the behaviors noted above, and more, were on tragic display and I had no wish to see my friends sully themselves, nor to risk getting dragged down into that muck. So I abandoned social media, and have found plenty of time for more constructive activities. Most of the friendships have continued, and people understand that they can send me photos and notes in texts, e-mails, etc. if they wish, and they continue to stay in touch.
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