Yesterday I scrolled through facebook, twitter, and Instagram for the first time in forty days. I’d given up social media (aside from blogging) for Lent this year, and it was harder than I’d expected. The old saying may be true – “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” And sometimes what you’ve got is a crutch, and it’s only when it’s gone that you realize how much it’s holding you back.
Or, you know, how much you’re holding yourself back.
(Because no one is forcing you to get on Instagram and look through photos of all your friends’ lunches/boyfriends/workouts/sunsets/coffee/dogs/#whatevs.)
Getting back on social media was weird. It made me reflect on the time I’d spent away from social media, and how those days had been different. How I’d been different…and how I want to be different going forward.
It’s funny how much can change in forty days.
Everyone and their Uncle Horace got engaged/pregnant/hitched. (Not necessarily at the same time.)
Ok, so the obvious disclaimer is that I’m currently in that stage of life where everyone decides to mate and procreate. So there’s good percentage of people I’m friends with/following on social media who are in that age group and getting on with that leavin’-n-cleavin’ and fruitful-n-multiplyin’ business.
But you get desensitized, I think, when you see shiny rings and white dresses and belly bumps and squishy little alien faces (those are the babies, just to clarify) on social media every day. When you take a break and come back, it feels like you just walked into a fertility clinic or something and you suddenly want to swallow a whole pack of birth control pills.
Because there’s something in the water, and this uterus is not looking to open for business right now.
And here’s the kicker…
I really don’t care about most of them.
Family and close friends who happen to be geographically distant? I care, and I actually want to see your heavily edited engagement pictures and photos of your slimy little newborns.
The other 90% of yall? Yeah, I just don’t care.
Like, good for you (really!) for getting hitched or having a baby or moving to Belgium, but let’s be real about it. I won’t be buying you a wedding gift or going to your baby shower and God knows I’m not going to help you move, so I’ll give you a congratulatory “like” if I’m feeling particularly magnanimous and we’ll move along with our otherwise unconnected lives.
Maybe this sounds harsh, but it’s easy to feel like you’re “missing out” by not staying up to date on the major life events of everyone and their Uncle Horace (or maybe that’s just part of having gone to a small private school).
Spoiler alert: You’re not missing out if you don’t care. (And let’s be honest – most of us don’t, not that much.)
People are so much less likable when they overshare.
Suffice to say, there are a lot of people that I like more when I don’t have to see their feelings broadcast on social media.
And yes, I realize the irony of this statement, as my Irish temper, passionate opinions, and tendency to run my mouth, do not make me likely to be voted “Miss Congeniality.” I believe “feisty,” “spicy,” and “inappropriate” are the most common descriptors used.
But you know what? It’s still true.
I put a lot out there on social media.
I can’t begin to count the number of times someone would say something hilarious or I’d embarrass myself and I would have the urge to post about it on social media. It was almost instinctive.
Not sure what this says about my social skills, but I cope with life by laughing at it and trying to get everyone to do the same. I mean, I had the idea to start this blog after I broke a hammock by sitting on it, because the reaction to that story on facebook made me realize that maybe embarrassing shenanigans are relatable or something and people would read that kind of thing.
And maybe they are, and maybe they do.
(I mean…yall are reading this, so there’s that.)
But my life just as amusing – and often more enjoyable – when I worry less about sharing the best moments on the internet and more about making the people I’m seeing face to face pee their pants laughing.
Plus, I could use that mental energy to work on not breaking hammocks anymore.
You get sh*t done when you don’t have the distraction of social media.
Self-explanatory. The routine used to be wake up…turn off alarm…turn on a light…sit on bedroom floor where phone was charging and scroll through Instagram until I was awake enough to think that I could handle walking to the kitchen for coffee. (Pathetic. But seriously, it was my daily routine.) With Instagram, twitter, and facebook deleted from my phone, it was almost easy to wake up before dawn and jump right into making coffee, reading my Bible, and getting on with my day.
And during all times of day, I was so much more productive when I was online. No more rabbit trails clicking through links that people have shared. If I read something on the internet, it was because I had intentionally looked it up or someone had sent it specifically to me via email.
I read more books. I practiced guitar a little more often than usual (although still not enough, sadly). I did more yoga. I talked on the phone more. I drank more coffee (this had nothing to do with my social media fast). I got more sh*t done. And it felt mother-lovin’ fantastic.
Life looks better without hashtags and filters.
Giving up social media meant giving up a form of affirmation. I’m a fairly confident dame, but I won’t deny that seeing little “like” notifications adding up can be a confidence booster…especially if you’re having a rough day/week/season. It’s easy to be persuaded to like yourself more when you see that other people like you, too.
(But that’s probably the same phenomenon that turned Kanye into the douchenozzle he is, so….yeah. Not the best habit to feed.)
Forty days without social media meant forty days of living life without hashtags, without “likes,” without the ability to compare myself and my life to strangers and acquaintances on isntagram and facebook and twitter.
It meant when I had good news, I had to decide who I wanted to tell and make time to share with them. I couldn’t just broadcast it with a clever hashtag and watch the congratulatory sentiments pour in from my invisible internet friends. When I was feeling crappy, I couldn’t just post something witty or cutesy and distract myself by garnering “likes” and appreciative comments. I had to wrestle with whatever situations or feelings I faced and find a way to improve them. It meant being intentional about my relationships and actively making an effort to stay in touch with friends and be involved in their lives…
Not like a “Omg I saw your facebook post about your new job! Congrats!! #workinggirl” comment.
I mean a real live phone call/text. “Hey, so did you get that job you were interviewing for? Well, congrats! I’ve got to buy you a beer to celebrate…how about this Thursday?”
Kind of weird. But a lot of good.
Not sure where I’m going with this. At this point I’m rambling, and that usually ends badly because my internet rambles have fewer boundaries than the California border. So I guess I’ll leave yall with this:
Taking time off from social media taught me that life is better without the distraction of social media. So much so that the only app I’ve reinstalled on my phone is Instagram. I’m not saying I won’t be back on facebook and twitter, but I plan to be very intentional about limiting my time there. Social media is a great tool that allows us to reach out to the outside world any time we want…but that doesn’t mean that the world needs to be able to get ahold of you every moment of the day. There are far too many adventures to be had and too much living to be enjoyed to spend my days attached to my phone.
I’d like to challenge yall to think about taking a break – even just for a week – to see what life is like without hashtags and “likes.” Hell, even just delete one social media app off your phone and see how that impacts you. You might find yourself happier with fewer hashtags.
But no matter what…please don’t ever share things like this on social media. I will un-friend your ass so fast.
How often do you use social media?
Do you find that it enhances or detracts from your life most of the time?
Have you ever thought about taking a break from it?