Turning Off The Machine: Why It's Okay To Occasionally Sit Out Of Social Media


Me: Did you see "True Detective"?

Dad: No, I’ll catch the replay

Me: I don’t understand. Why don’t you get a DVR?

Dad: Because I don’t want a DVR.

At this point in the conversation, my head swells until I morph into something that looks like the angry strawberry from that old Gushers commercial. Why would somebody willingly corrode his own viewing experience when there’s a much better alternative out there? I don’t masturbate with magazines or pay for music.

I’ve always loathed when older people shun pop culture and modern technology. I find their willful ignorance pompous: “I was born during the Great Era of Acceptable Racism and tobacco advertising, so I earned the right to reside in my bubble.”

Their justifications never work for me, either:

Your generation grew up with it.” And? Computers have been around for 30 f*cking years. Is it too much to ask of you to take half a Saturday, drop by The Learning Annex and get the basics?

Music was better when I was growing up.” Nope. You just remember the good sh*t. For every Beatle, there was a Bee Gee.

“It’s too difficult.” Really? People who went to war and raised kids and paid mortgages are telling me that they can’t compose a tweet. Toughen up, Uncle Frank.

However, recently, I’ve softened my stance. I guess hitting the ripe old age of 24 will do that to a person. But, I’ve had a not-so-brilliant realization: Every day, we’re inundated with information. Watch this. Buy that. Follow me. Hashtag her. Will you like my handbag company on Facebook? Why, oh why won’t you like my handbag company on Facebook?

We are enveloped in an eyeball-catching machine. And, to quote the activist Mario Savio, sometimes you need to turn off the machine:

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop”

Okay, so I’m appropriating a political activist’s impassioned views on free speech to explain why I don’t have an Instagram, but it works. Well, occasionally it’s empowering to just say “no, not today.”

As I said, I don’t have an Instagram. I’m well aware of what it does and how it works but I choose to opt out. Why? Not because I’m stubborn or because I’m stupid, but because I simply don’t like it. I do not need to be inundated with bragging pictures of a spoiled princess, whom I knew in high school, traveling to Costa Rica.

This isn’t a dig at Instagram but rather, an embrace of resistance. Now more than ever, third parties are invading our lives. It’s refreshing to sit out from one phenomenon every now and then and to instead focus on what you truly enjoy. Yes, I’m sure “Girls” is great and I don’t know what I’m missing and Lena Dunham is the voice of my generation or whatever, but life’s too short. I need time to go outside and take a walk.

While it may annoy me that my dad doesn’t use DVR, I have to respect it. We all have a right to opt out. Just because Kim Kardashian exists doesn’t mean I have to let her take up space in my mind. And yes, I’m totally aware that by writing that, she does occupy space in my mind.

Do you guys think it’s cool to opt out on aspects of pop culture? Or is it douchey, like when a hipster tells you that he doesn’t own a TV? Holler at me on Twitter @krumlifedotcom.