When I disabled my facebook account (for now twitter doesn't count), I didn't think too far ahead. I never gave myself alternative options for building relationships, with folks who had forgotten (or never learned) ways to relationship without social media.
Future me would never tolerate such reckless disregard for basic planning.
It's been over 7 years since. How have I fared?
It's not more difficult to have a social life. The folks I know now don't use facebook groups to organize their parties. They message, call, tell in-person, or use an invitation tool to send out emails.
This is how I learned that evite still lives.
What I don't have is a social life which allows me to engage with a large number of friends through artifacts from IRL.
I've discovered how to "slow" relationships.
I get to be genuinely surprised by things that people tell me, because I didn't find out in advance through a feed. When two friends wanted to tell me they were expecting their firstborn, they did it over brunch. The sharing went well with hollandaise egg english muffin, and a walk in the sun.
My birthday messages and cards come from a few people who find ways to remind themselves that it's my birthday, rather than from an algorithm nudging everyone I'm connected with to send me validation with a tap.
I've never cared for birthdays, so I give myself permission to be cynical here.
Slow relationships aren't difficult. What they are is, more deliberate. Instead of broadcasting, it's more focused. Text messages, voice messages, voice calls, video calls, and email—use any combination of these with which you're comfortable.
I'm also experimenting with more themed conversations, like those which you could find on a forum or bulletin board. The concept is that you choose, and opt-in to those conversations.
I think a new spin on book clubs would appeal to me, and possibly others too.
I choose to not use social media for personal relationships because I wasn't sold on the trade offered to me: we'll collect all your friends and family in one place for you. We'll make it nearly effortless to stay in touch.
More friends in less time isn't a solution I'm seeking.
I'm not advocating unnecessary friction. I'm saying that more focus and deliberate effort can be transformative for some of our interpersonal lives.
For a person who uses technology to make faster and easier as many activities as I do, my relationships are an aberration.
Each relationship takes an inordinate amount of time, and I can only handle a handful at a go. Yet, I'm much more satisfied with the part of my life which are attached to those relationships.
My cousin ended her latest email to me with: write back when you have a chance, I miss long meaningful email.
You're talking to the right person, fam.