I realize there are plenty of posts and articles written by people who went much longer than a week without social media. I’m not trying to break any records here. Just freeing up mind space.
I’m currently beginning the last day of my social media detox. Last week I was challenged to give up something for a week. I thought about the things I do daily and which of those things are actually over-indulgent. The answer was simple: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and the likes. When I don’t have my phone in my hand, checking status updates or Instagram accounts, I feel naked.
So, last Sunday I removed them all from my phone and vowed to go a week without.
The first day was brutal. I felt like a crack junkie, going through withdrawals, twitching, scratching and fidgeting in any way shape or form to make up for the awkwardness of not knowing what to do with my hands while sitting, standing, or just breathing. I discovered that my phone served as a security blanket when I found myself sitting alone in public places. It felt weird to just sit… and do nothing.
I then decided to make these moments productive. So, anytime that I found myself wishing I had my phone to stare at, I began to read. I carried a book around with me and made it a point to bring it out, even if only for a few moments. I finished the book within a few days and moved on to the next.
I also caught up on laundry, cleaning, blogging, painting & calling family members to check in. I gave up TV during this time as well, for those of you wondering. No TV & no social media means you get creative with your time.
A few revelations from my detox:
1. We have a lot more time than we think. The past week has felt like a month, not because I miss social media, but because I had all of this time that I wasn’t accustomed to having. There were moments (and this never happens to me) where I ran out of things to do. Imagine that! All of those complaints about not having time for things suddenly went out the window.
2. I am happier when I’m not consumed with others. “Comparison is the thief of joy,” Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed. Preach, Mr. President! It’s true. My go-to social media drugs are Instagram & Facebook. I often find myself looking at those I know (on Facebook) and trying to keep up. If someone goes to the newest eatery in town, I suddenly feel like I have to get there asap as well. After all, I don’t want to be left behind in the fantastic surge that Birmingham is currently experiencing! When people post their holiday pics, or vacation photos, I feel like mine have to be just as good or better. Then, once I feel like I’ve succeeded at that, I turn to those I don’t know (on Instagram) and begin to covet all of the clothes, vacations & home decor posted by people I follow but have never met. Instagram is heaven for us visual folks.
Without people to envy, my life suddenly became just that. Mine. There were several times that I’d take a picture and immediately want to share it on one of the sites, but then realized I couldn’t. Perhaps it was best that this moment remained only mine, unseen by those not in it, and not seeking approval of others.
I sat back last night and smiled, thinking about how peaceful this past week had been. I was happy, and the distractions had kept me from noticing my happiness. This week’s calm made that happiness more apparent than ever.
3. The last thing I’ve discovered is that people stink at communication. Facebook messages and posts do not qualify as conversations. They are essentially a passive way of remaining in touch with others. In order to actively improve and maintain relationships, we have to call others and spend time together. We need to hear each other’s voices. And, the easiest way to increase the amount of time you have to spend with others is to decrease the amount of time you spend trolling the lives of others on social media. When someone has a birthday, call them. When someone gets married, call them or send them a hand written card. When someone loses a family member, attend the funeral, visit them and take them food, or call them to express your condolences. Stop being timid in your interactions. Reach out to others who mean something to you. Your presence means much more than you’d think.
Haven’t tried to go without social media yet? I dare you to do it, if only for a week. You’ll be surprised at the things you learn about yourself.