At the time of writing this I’ve taken a break from social media – mainly Instagram and Facebook for about 10 days so far. I’m likely to stay off for about a month which will take me to just before Christmas.
A friend of mine Liz took a ‘social media detox’ just under a year ago, starting 2018 as she planned to go on. We both had different circumstances as to what triggered it but fundamentally similar reasons – we wanted to quieten the noise.
As a stay at home mum with my own business that fits into the hours when Daisy is asleep I found myself saying far too frequently “with what time?” when I needed to do something or if Chris asked if I could do something. I found myself being a version of me that I wasn’t particularly keen on and I’m pretty sure Chris would never admit it; but one that can’t have been that fun for him to be around.
Now, the reason this is linked to social media is because I found that my usage of it had become almost a dependency – if I was stressed or nervous, I’d mindlessly scroll. If I was bored, I’d mindlessly scroll. Then I’d be saying I didn’t haveb time to do things I loved, enjoyed or actually just needed to do. I was aware my usage was more than I’d have liked but didn’t really do much about it. I took the odd day off here and there, but other than that I’d done nothing proactive to change my habits.
The moment that was my trigger was when we went out to a park for the day and my little girl had a tantrum – she’s nearly 2, it wasn’t a big deal. However, I said “why does everyone else always seem to look to have a perfect day when they go on family days out?”. That was it. Less than a week later I started my break. I will not allow myself to feel negatively about my family experiences based on a highlight reel on social media.
Chris said tonight that since I’d come off social media I’d got funnier. I think, actually, I’ve just had some brain space to process things and my humour is back. It’s amazing what coping strategies we use and the impact that can have on other things. Rather than process and deal with things I’d been ignoring them which meant I’d been carrying negative feelings. This is so not how I deal with things, so of course it would be impacting on my personality.
Am I staying off social media forever? NO! I still LOVE social media. I think it connects so many people in so many wonderful ways. I know that a few posts I’ve made on my social media have raised awareness and meant that people have had treatment for cervical cancer after having put off their screening test. That might not have happened without social media. I get to see pictures and vidoes of friends and their families who I don’t see very often. I keep in touch with people who I went to school with who I might not have seen in over a decade. It can be such a positive place. Now here comes the but. BUT, it is up to us to ‘curate our feeds’. We choose who we follow. We choose what we see (kind of, we all know the algorhythms are a bit weird). We choose what we post. We choose who sees what we post. Most importantly, we choose how often we use it. I wasn’t choosing wisely and I think this break has made me more mindful of my use of my time.
When I return to social media, my aim is to still take a few days a week off. I will delete the app on those days (like I have currently) and then the days that I do allow myself to use them, I’ll be much more conscious of what it is I want to see, post and do on social media.
The irony is, is that this post has been written at the beginning of December and probably won’t be seen for nearly a month…because I’m not on social media so nobody knows I’m bringing my blog back. Ha. Brilliant.
One thing I’ve been asked when I see people is, “do you miss it?”. Occasionally – I’ve noticed I don’t have numbers for a few people who I contact quite regularly on social media. But largely, no. It’s encouraged me to be more creative in keeping in touch with people. I keep in touch with my bestie and Liz via an app called Marco Polo which is just video messaging that means I’m on my phone less yet again because it means I’m not spending ages typing back and forward, we can reply when we’re ready and that works for us all. I’m messaging people who I wouldn’t have ordinarily seeing how they are. It’s lovely. I do miss it sometimes though. I love a lot of ‘bigger’ personalities on Instagram particularly and I don’t have their numbers. Haha. So, I do miss that sort of thing occasionally but not enough to jump back on just yet.
Have you ever thought of taking a break from social media? What would prompt you to do it?