I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a New Year’s resolution or “new year, new me” type of guy. But for as long as I can remember, January has always been my month to adjust my intentions. It is also my birth month (shoutout to all the January Capricorns and Aquariuses), so I make time to deeply reflect and celebrate.

The first month of the year is also when I cleanse my social media platforms. For example, in 2017 I decided to deactivate my Instagram for three months to focus more at work. I didn’t make it to February, but my intentions were in the right place. In 2018, I set out to clean up my Facebook page since older family members were starting to follow me. I deleted any trace of college partying and middle-finger pics. It took me an entire week, but I got it done.

It was a little different in 2020 when I decided to create a LinkedIn account I never logged into. I wanted to appear more mature on social media. In the following years, however, I became more intentional with my social media cleanup. I deleted my Snapchat, never looking back (even though I had some fire selfies archived) and decided to address my scrolling addiction by staying off social media after 8 p.m.

This year, I want to try something a little different. I’m planning to resist being overly influenced by topics trending on social media that either distract me or take up too much of my time. I’m not blaming the algorithm, since it’s dependent upon me anyway. But I am making an effort to hold myself accountable and reclaim my attention.

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Here are 10 things I’m scrolling past in 2024.

1. Neon Lights/ Grass Wall Restaurants. It’s nothing to fall for the hype of new restaurants and their ambience (another overused word). I fell victim to so many of these “hidden gems” last year and maybe you did too. I was led there by the hype, but my taste buds and wallet left disappointed. Customer service, food quality, portions, waiting time, fair prices and uniqueness, not just decorations, all make a decent restaurant. So, I’m saying it here: Just because a restaurant has a grass wall, neon lights and social-media hype doesn’t mean it’s quality.

2. Man vs. Woman Debate. Nothing has to end more than gender war debates about alpha men and high-quality women. It’s draining. It’s depressing and counterproductive. How can we ever move toward rebuilding the dating experience and thus family structures if we are stuck debating about how women should behave and how tall men should be?

3. Podcast Mics and Tripods. There are some really good podcasts. Ones that inspire and ones to learn from. There are also some really bad ones. Podcast mic and tripod experts flooded my timeline last year with not so good podcasts and not so good advice. I witnessed so many podcasters focus more on their equipment than their content. Those same content creators manipulated trendy topics (like the man vs. woman debate) for soundbites and clickbait. I’m not saying GRWM’s or ‘Day in the life’ or mukbang content should be banned. As a former media arts teacher, I actually support it. But just because you have a podcast mic doesn’t give you the right to misinform. So I’m scrolling by bad podcasters this year.

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4. Memes as Credible Sources. We live in an age in which we legitimize life experiences with memes. Not research or encyclopedias, sometimes not even therapy, but memes. Nothing, and I mean nothing, frustrated me more last year than memes that offer life advice. For example, my friend John (we’ll call him that) becomes irritated when friends hold him accountable about his life decisions, but when popular platforms like @Justinlaboy or @theshaderoom post motivation memes, then he’ll change his behaviors. John recently posted a meme to his story that read “cut off all distractions, people included.” I haven’t talked to John all year, and this is my point of the meme culture we live in.

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5. Thirst Traps. A thirst trap is a flirty or seductive picture or selfie used to attract attention. I’m here for a good thirst trap, but if that’s all your page can offer, then what’s the point? OK, I get it, sometimes you have to show the world how good you look and feel, but I refuse to allow my explore page to be consumed with OnlyFans models this year.

6. Popular Self-Help Books. Last year I purchased “The 48 Laws of Power,” a book about obtaining power tactics, and “The Way of the Superior Man,” a book that guides men on life issues. Both titles were not the typical book that I would read or even read again even though they had some good points. I realize I read these books on the strength of several friends who are business savants, not avid readers. They only suggested the books because popular business content creators did. This year, let’s suggest books that we actually like and not just what’s popular.

7. Tequila. I’m not convinced a lot of people actually enjoy tequila. Tequila, to me, is good, but not that good. It’s like after the 2020 lockdown everyone out of nowhere only drank tequila. But this isn’t an attack on tequila — it’s an attack on Casamigos, which for awhile was trending everywhere. Keep drinking tequila, just not Casamigos.

8. Celebrity Relationships. Nothing really to explain here. Let’s just leave it at that.

9. Social Media Assumptions. Even though social media makes us all feel like we’re really good detectives who can solve murders and prove breakups and conspiracy theories, let’s not assume on social media.

10. Announcing a Social Media Break. This year I don’t want to see anyone announce they are taking a break from social media. In fact, I didn’t want to see this announcement last year or the year before that. Just take the break. No one needs to know.

Wallace Lane is part of The Baltimore Banner's Creatives in Residence program, which amplifies the work of artists and writers from the Baltimore region.

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