Having wrestled with the idea of letting go of social media for months, I’ve finally implemented stage one of my plan to minimise its effects on my life (I’m not the cold-turkey type). It’s been a month of only checking facebook and Instagram once a week, with both apps deleted from my phone and, as predicted, I’ve never felt better.
For me, the greatest barrier to quitting social media is the belief that I need it for my business as a copywriter and journalist. Everybody says we all need to be furiously promoting ourselves on a few platforms, right? Eventually, I just started to feel so bad every time I looked at social media (also dazed, envious, inadequate, confused and addicted) that I was prepared to risk the possibility of attracting less work. Incidentally, my work hasn’t suffered at all in the past month of disengaging from social media. And I feel so good that I’m almost ready to take the leap and delete my accounts altogether.
Words can’t describe the very real and positive effects I’ve felt during my social media hiatus, but here goes:
– Time and space that I had previously longed for have now become magically available. It turns out I wasn’t super busy, just busy scrolling my feed between meals, in the check-out line and every time there was a break in conversation. If this didn’t always make me busy, it had the effect of causing me to feel busy, rushed, scattered and anxious. I have been given the gift of space that was once taken up by scrolling, space that I can use to be, dream, write, listen and, most importantly, tune in to the whispers of my soul.
– The death of comparisonitis. Holy moly, do I suffer from this affliction – particularly since becoming a mother. Prone as I am to believing that everyone else is doing a better job as a mum/partner/money-maker/fabulous human being than me, it really does make sense not to compound that tendency with a device that constantly feeds my brain images of people’s most picture-perfect moments. Now I’m free to be who I am and refer to my inner guidance rather than the latest trends. It’s that simple.
– The absence of that unnameable, dissatisfied feeling that spending time on social media promotes. It’s not as obvious as envy or jealousy and it’s not about anyone else. It’s just this shitty, irritable feeling that comes over you after a mammoth scroll session, which you then take out on your family and friends without even realising you felt bad in the first place. Do you know what I mean? I don’t have that anymore.
– I’m more motivated to seek real connection to real people for real reasons. Aimlessly pressing ‘like’ doesn’t feel like a gift to the world anymore – especially when a cat gets more likes that someone trying their guts out to run a small business. Yesterday, I had a spare minute that would usually be spent scrolling, and I used it to give some positive feedback to my local Woolworths, who have the loveliest, friendliest staff around. I’d been thinking about doing that for months, but never did. I feel like quitting social media allowed me to take the time I needed to think about giving in a way that matters to me.
– My focus has increased, along with my ability to make strong, clear decisions and back them up with action. This is major for me. As a strong Vata type (Ayurveda nerds will know what that means), I’m super prone to spacing out and procrastinating. It’s hard enough to make a decision and stick to it, let alone trying to do it with the constant intrusion of other people’s thoughts and opinions into my brain via a device. The changes in my life have been immediate and tangible: my kids are listening to me, I’m listening to them, I’m making clearer decisions and backing them up for the first time in years. This cannot be a co-incidence.
All of this may seem a bit extreme to people who don’t have an issue with social media – like my husband, who enjoys watching videos of people crashing motorbikes for a couple of minutes a day. But I have a feeling those people won’t be the ones who are drawn to read this article.
I loved social media, I really did. It gave me inspiration and the feeling of not being alone in my weirdness. It introduced me to brave, strong women with important messages to share, people who aren’t afraid to bare their souls for the benefit of all. But, at the same time it took away my ability to listen to my own inner wisdom as well as my ability to be present with those I love most in the world.It also didn’t bring in enough business to justify itself or strengthen any real-life relationships.
I admire those who can use social media with restraint and skill to communicate beautiful messages and support themselves financially, but I am not one of those people. And, for now, I’m completely ok with that.