I Logged Off Social Media for 75 Days (and this is what I learned)
I logged off social media for the first 75 days of 2019 and it taught me a whole lot about myself, social media culture, and how I want to hold space for this powerful tool going forward.
First and foremost- I am not a social media hater.
On the contrary, I rather enjoy the creativity and connectivity that social media offers us. But at the end of 2018 I was feeling generally burnt out in life and social media seemed to be aggravating my inner sense of uncertainty. I felt guided to log off and tune out of the world for an indefinite period so I could better focus on myself and life, and all without the distraction of the world-at-large.
When I first logged off…
People generally seemed to think I was disappearing for forever. I received many send off messages and some sounded rather final! This surprised me at first but then I began to realize just how much I connect with people via these platforms (Facebook & Instagram specifically in my case). In some ways my fear and worry of being forgotten, being disconnected, and fear of missing out was heightened in those first few days. As I faced these fears, and breathed through them, I realized how much of this fear was simply programmed hype in my mind. This feeling of being ‘disconnected’ motivated me to have more brunch dates, coffee meetings, and emails/texts with people as those were the best means of communicating during this time and it was so great connecting in these more 1:1 ways.
I learned I was dependent in more ways than one …
We all talk about, read, and have experienced social media dependency. What I didn’t realize until I stepped back was just how much social media flavored my life. I missed some aspects of having them readily available, but in other ways I have gained clarity on where I need to create new boundaries. Moving forward I will be …
Using the Pomodoro technique for creating, posting, and scrolling time. I thrive with this method and believe it will assist in curbing the habit of mindless or boredom scrolling.
Logging out three days a week. I have lived without social media for 75 consecutive days so I now know that I can log out of these apps successfully for 3 days each week. Before this long term cleanse 3 days felt like a lot, but now Friday-Sunday I will be logging out. *Completely logging off the apps helps keep me accountable, I am way less likely to check in if I logged out.
Keeping my social media apps off the main screen of my phone and turning off notifications. This is such a big one! I am becoming such a passionate gatekeeper of my time and when I am available for the world to reach me. This was one area I was burnt out in before logging off in the New Year and know I need to stick to dedicated communication time.
Breaking away from the hive …
So much about being connected through the wild matrix of the internet is the ever present hive mind. Sometimes this hive mind is great thing- it spreads love and support through #metoo movements and crowd funding for amazing causes. But sometimes hive mind is a fearful place that encourages us to behave in ways we wouldn’t normally. When we get swept up with the masses it overrides our own beliefs, values, and desires in fear of not ‘surviving’ with our society. If I take anything from this logging off experience I hope it is the awareness to sense when this collective mind is taking over and bring my focus back to center.
We also tend to create social ‘bubbles’- following and interacting with people who are most like us or inspire us, and this can aggravate this sense of hive mind as it becomes much more tunnel-visioned when in a smaller circle within society. Diversifying your ‘bubble’ and seeking out different views, information, and perspectives helps to keep us in a place of growing and learning vs. fear, judgement, and separation from those who don’t seem to fit in our ‘bubble’.
What felt the best about logging off …
I generally didn’t have a phone in my hands as much. I was free to enjoy experiences without worrying about taking photos. I loved not stressing about posting schedules, curating a pretty feed, follower numbers or likes. I love the privacy and the lack of distraction as I worked on re-learning who I am right now. I also realized that I don’t really enjoy sharing a lot of personal details about my life but the quality of vulnerability has become so trendy in the spiritual circles I connect within. I was constantly coping with vulnerability hangover, telling myself that the more I shared the better I would feel, but that never happened. So the way I share will definitely be different going forward as I honor this truth about myself.
I also fully believe that by continuing with the guidelines I set for myself above with watching screen time and continuing to log off each week will keep this balance in alignment. In this moment I feel much more carefree about following any ‘shoulds’ and am happy to show up only in ways that feel good to me.
What I am looking forward to the most about being logged back in …
Is the ease of communication. I’ve missed some of the Facebook Groups I am a part of and started, being able to connect with acquaintances and peers in my community who I didn’t have direct contact information for. The inspiration of reading others words and seeing small snaps of their life. Of being somewhat more accessible (I know a few people who went out of their way to get a hold of me!)
Social media is truly a gift. Never has there been a way to communicate in such a lightning fast speed but with that comes learning new and healthy boundaries and guidelines that make you feel good, safe, and supported within this new technology.
For me, it had felt as though social media and marketing had become such a big part of my life and I didn’t want it to be that consuming anymore- so my best course was completely disengaging for awhile as I sought more clarity. This might not be the solution for everyone, but I do highly recommend disconnecting every now and again. Now I feel like I can come back with redefined boundaries and clarity and that makes me feel really good.
How do you protect and nurture your boundaries around the accessibility that social media brings to the table? What makes you feel good as our circle grow globally and rapidly?