I’m not on any social media platforms—no Facebook, no Instagram, no nothing. Like the vast majority of Bowdoin students, I have a smartphone, which I take practically everywhere with me. I text, I email, I take the occasional selfie. I was on Facebook for a few years in high school before deactivating my page prior to my junior year. I haven’t been on since.

But I’m not here to bash technology. If you’re in the mood for some technology-bashing, I can link you to one of the hundreds of articles that have been published within the last year in every reputable news outlet about how smartphones are turning us millennials into antisocial, apathetic and asinine zombies.

The issue isn’t that the authors of these articles are wrong (and in many cases, they aren’t), as much as that their apocalyptic, alarmist rhetoric is useless. The articles keep coming, yet iPhones keep selling, tweeters keeps tweeting and Snapchatters keep ... doing whatever it is that they do. Social media is a part of the fabric of millennial life. Rather than watch our elders get red in the face with indignation, those of us who have grown up with the stuff should try to get a better sense of the lifestyle that we live with an iPhone in hand.

I am not here to be self-righteous. Do I think my absence from the world of social media makes me morally superior? No. Despite how some media outlets make it seem, signing up for Instagram doesn’t also punch your ticket to a lifetime lived in a hazy, solitary and senseless purgatory. Social media usage on its own is an almost entirely irrelevant moral consideration.

My time “off the grid” (speaking relatively, of course), has nevertheless been informative. Maybe I miss out on the occasional celebrity Twitter war or that really cute picture of your friend’s baby cousin, but I still keep in touch with old friends, I still hear about campus events and I still keep up to date with the news. In truth, I’ve lost nothing from my digital hiatus.

I have gained something, though. I deactivated my Facebook account because I started to feel the virtual world creeping into the world of flesh and blood. I felt the nag to go places with my friends that would be conducive to a post-worthy photo and I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking of witty captions. I have a hunch that these feelings are far from unique.

Aside from the carefully studied and well documented tricks that software engineers use to make their products as addictive as possible, I suspect that social media is so appealing because it mimics the process of self-building while doing away with all the friction of actual self-building. By self-building, I mean the whole network of things that we do to build an identity from what we’ve been dealt—which ideas we gravitate towards, which people we associate with, our tenor of interactions, etc. In the non-technological world, much of this self-building is messy. You happen to argue for a position at a family dinner that your uncle thinks is deplorable, and absent faking sudden-onset food poisoning, you’re basically locked into that debate, whether you like it or not. Or maybe that really cute kid from across the hall sees you drunkenly shoveling mozzarella sticks into your mouth at Super Snacks. Maybe he’ll come up to you the next day to divulge his love of mozzarella sticks and you’ll live happily ever after or he’ll grimace and move on.

Even if unpleasant, these messy moments of interaction are formative. They force us to revise our sense of what is good, how we should act and who we should be.

These interactions by no means disappear on social media, but we gain a degree of control over them. We choose who to associate with, which comments to respond to and which bits of our existences to share. Much of the happenstance and friction that makes interaction in the material world meaningful has been controlled for.

This isn’t to say that everyone should delete their social media accounts for the rest of time. But for a little while? It’s not a bad idea. Many college students have been on Facebook since at least the beginning of high school, if not before. How long has it been since you went a day, a week, a month, without interacting online? Give it a try. Even if you’re one of those people who doesn’t post often, at the very least your thumbs will thank you for a week of rest. If distance makes the heart grow fonder, so be it. But at least you’ll return to the digital realm with a new perspective, a fresh sense of the benefits and hazards of the online world.