When Becca Ann graduated high school, her friends moved away to college while she stayed in her hometown to attend a local community college. When she checked Snapchat, she’d feel bombarded by their snaps of themselves partying, and felt left out. “It sounds incredibly petty, but my mental health couldn’t handle it anymore. It just reinforced the idea that I was being replaced and left behind,” she said. She didn’t delete her Snapchat, but mostly stopped checking it, as well as her personal Instagram. Now she only logs into Instagram under a separate fan account for her favorite musical, Phantom of the Opera.
“Honestly, it’s exhausting trying to keep up with everything,” said Jacob Whiting, 18. “I don’t care about 99% of the posts on Instagram, I don’t want to compare myself to everyone having more fun than me on Snapchat, I don’t care about 150 characters of someone’s opinion on Twitter. I have enough anxiety; I use Facebook to shitpost and keep up with family and I don’t really need anything else.”
We think of teens as being connected to social media like an umbilical cord, incapable of breathing without it. But perhaps only these true parseltongues, who were entering kindergarten while Myspace was peaking, have the self-awareness and ability to know when to unplug.
Recently, a wave of adults — particularly adult journalists — have been talking and writing about deleting their Facebook accounts, taking a break from Twitter, or modifying its utility. As my colleague Charlie Warzel points out, this tech journalism trend speaks to a larger problem: People are simply at a…