I’ve decided to get off social media and reclaim my dwindling brain and attention span. It’s been 2 weeks now, and I can truly say I don’t miss the constant itch to check my phone or the incessant curiosity about who would comment on the things I posted to stroke my tiny ego.
It was completely derailing my quest to live in the moment and dig into life more deeply.
I’ve noticed my increasing attachment to it, and this time at home during the pandemic away from the normal busy life I’ve always had, I decided it was time to cut it out all the way because what I was getting out of it was not adding any value to my life. I figured why not challenge myself to add a really healthy habit during this pandemic, and for me taking away social media during the most secluded time in my life has been amazingly easy.
I’m pretty surprised, actually.
I’m not going to say social media is evil and you should get off it because you might have a personality that doesn’t allow it to suck up your day. Maybe you never get envious of what others post. Maybe the information you gain really does add some value to your day. All I’m saying is I cut it out of my life recently, and I literally feel my focus and attention span healing back to where it used to be.
After the past couple of weeks, here are 10 things that helped me realize I needed to give up social media (aside from YouTube):
1 - Addiction to Checking My Stupid Phone
If I posted something, I had to check who liked or commented. Then when I commented back to someone’s comment, I had to check again to see if they commented back. Even when I didn’t post anything, checking my Facebook or Instagram became an involuntary movement for me. Checking my stupid phone became a nervous twitch almost to the point where I could feel my focus waning, and for what? No one on their deathbed says, “I’m so glad I spent so much time on Facebook. Now that was quality living.”
2 - Getting Sucked Back into the Past
Facebook and Instagram have photos and stories from your past, and the past is something that can be a tricky thing to play with our emotions if we invite it back in. We all have pasts, but it’s just too easy to dig up stuff or go snooping for things that have no business having life breathed back into them after they’ve been long buried. Anything that pulls the focus from today is not a helpful tool for my brain.
3 - Fooling Myself into Believing Social Media Equals Keeping in Touch
So many people say they like social media to keep in touch, and I respect that, but to me it wasn’t keeping in touch. It was just keeping up on the story of people I used to know. It’s a cheap substitute and I was leaning on it to “stay in touch.” Before I went off, I made sure I had email addresses or phone numbers of people I want to see in person, so we can see the real side of each other, hot messes and all, not just social media-worthy presentations of ourselves.
4 - Letting My Motivation Hinge So Much on How Many Likes I Got
I want to write for the joy of writing, and so many times no one would respond or even click on the article I wrote and shared, and it would defeat me. I would dramatically ask myself why the heck I would even bother writing when everyone hates it. The reality is, I didn’t click on half the things people sent me either. So much of my self worth was balancing on if anyone would say anything, so taking that pressure out of my life has given me a freedom I was craving.
5 - Making it Hard to Stay in My Own Lane
I didn’t like the judgmental, envious person who would sometimes creep out of me as I was mindlessly scrolling down Facebook or Instagram. Rather than being happy for someone’s 3rd vacation they took in one year, I found myself getting annoyed with their fortune and envious that it wasn’t me. Again, not the best use of my time when we have this one life.
6 - Minutes of “Harmless” Scrolling Was Harmful
I was noticing if I ever had down time, I would reach for my phone and scroll through FB or Instagram. I wanted to retrain my brain to reach for a book or podcast instead if I had downtime--something that could bring more long-term joy and self-satisfaction. I've definitely noticed a difference already, and I feel like my brain is smiling.
7 - Information Overload with Nothing to Show for it
I definitely used FB to see info on events coming up or recipes people like, but 99.9% of the time, I would think, “Oh, that’s a good idea. I’ll have to try/make that” and then my brain kept going down the rabbit hole and I would totally forget about the awesome buffalo chicken wing dip your cousin’s sister posted telling us we had to try.
8 - My Kids Saw Their Mom Spend Too Much Time on Her Phone
If my nose is always in my phone, how the heck can I one day tell my kids to get their nose out of their phones? They would often ask me why I have to post everything to FB, and it woke me up. They were right. My intentions were good in that I wanted to show friends and family snippets of my life, but the close friends and family will know this by being in my life--my real, imperfect life, not the fictional story line on FB.
9 - It’s Okay to Move on from Past Friendships
People move on in life, and that is okay. I don’t need to know what my friend from high school is doing now if I haven’t spoken to her since our junior year history class. I can take that energy and focus it on real people who are currently a part of my life instead of looking at her family vacation photos. I would not go to her house and look through her photos since we haven’t seen each other since 1993, so why would I need to poke through them online? How does that enhance my life?
10 - I Have No Fear of Missing out
People say they are on FB because they’re afraid they’re going to miss out on something because everyone else is on it. I now feel like well, if I need to hear about it, it will make its way to me. If I miss something because I didn’t hear about it on FB, my life goes on.
Now, this is all not to say social media doesn’t have great qualities about it, and maybe you have the personality that can dabble in it here and there and not let it affect your life too much at all. For me, my life in the social-media-free lane feels more free and peaceful without yet one more thing to distract me and pull me from this present moment, imperfections and all.