My Antisocial Friend

What it means to be lovingly attached to digital detachment

Illustration by Krystal Ramirez

Illustration by Krystal Ramirez

I keep hearing about people who are swearing off of social media. I hear about this on Facebook and Twitter. I hear it, repeatedly, from the same people. They are extremely engaged in the I-am-quitting-social-media online ecosystem. It would be a great loss if they ever left. Who would remain on social media to question the use of social media? I see the role of digitally engaged social media deniers as central to a more diverse 21st-century culture, much like the League of Luddite Programmers and the Association of Christian Atheists.

But I have a friend who is superior to all of these friends. This friend is superior because he has never used social media, not once. He does not hate it, because he does not know it. He merely does not need it. As the Russians used to say of Lenin, this friend of mine lived, he still lives, and he shall live. Lenin, too, lived without social media. And he was a killer networker.

My friend runs a small business. We have been told—or at least I have been told; I have no idea what you have been told—that no small business can survive without social media. The people who tell us this are people who are really good at social media and would like us to hire them. For instance, I recently hired a social media expert to help me sell a $20 book. The social media expert will cost me $650 a month over six months. I bargained him down from $666. I also refused to sign in blood.

Anyway, about my friend: His small business is successful. He is a graphic designer, and he operates out of his house, and people find him without using Facebook or Meetup or LinkedIn or My friend is married, and he does not need How do people get married without Does anyone remember? When you go out dancing, all anybody does anymore is dance in big globs of arms and legs, and you can’t really tell whose arms go with whose legs. Is that any way for people to pair off in this world? That is why we need But my friend does not need

In the time my friend has not been using social media, he has:

  • Been born.
  • Attended school. In a foreign country. He was born in the foreign country, so it was not foreign to him. Not far from his native town, one can find good pizza at a Mexican restaurant on Bond Street. I know this from Yelp.
  • Wandered among green rolling hills and hobnobbed in pubs.
  • Become educated, radicalized, partially de-radicalized, semi-Americanized and, ultimately, married.
  • Cut the cord with the cable company while increasing the programming he receives and reducing his bill by 75 percent.
  • Reorganized his wife’s library of 132,000 digital photographs and uploaded them into searchable, descriptive folders on Dropbox.
  • Explained to me how to do all this.

He succeeded in all of these efforts except the last. I tried to listen, but I kept getting distracted by my Facebook page. Nonetheless, I told him that his insights were creative and disruptive, and that if he wouldn’t share them with the world, I would.

“Be my guest,” he said.

“Can you repeat them to me?”

“Nope.” And then he went outside to plant a garden.

Greg Blake Miller is the director of Olympian Creative Education and the author of Decemberlands: Holiday Stories. Follow him @GregBlakeMiller.

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