Quitting Social Media … Again

I just did it.

I just deactivated my social media accounts and deleted the apps. Again.

I’ve done it before and talked about it this post, where I shared about how a 3-week social media fast turned into 6, and it restored peace into my life.

When I activated my accounts again, I kept the social media at arm’s length, until recently. In my overwhelm from the holidays, I found myself scrolling through newsfeeds, wasting time that could have been better invested. It made me question why I went back to social media at all.

I had no answer for that.

photo by NeONBRAND

It still doesn’t add any enrichment to my life. Although I enjoyed seeing my friends’ Christmas posts and pictures, it wasn’t anything they couldn’t have told me about in person.

The one and only reason I had been keeping it for the past few weeks is because … How will I be able to tell people about the podcast without postimg about the new episodes? The number of plays were quadrupled when posted on social media, vs. when they aren’t.

I still can’t justify it.

There has to be another way to spread the word about the podcast without it sucking the joy out of me.

For many people social media is a pleasure outlet. Something they enjoy. For me, it becomes a Focus Leech. And trust me when I say, I need every brain cell working in my favor right now. 😆

Here’s to discarding old habits, and taking on fresh new ones!

8 Surprising Things I Learned During 6 Weeks Off Social Media

We were at the brink of big changes.

My husband asked to go into the field with his job, which meant he wouldn’t be sitting behind a desk in Birmingham each day, at home by 6 pm. It meant he would be 400 miles away in Little Rock working on the job site, doing the parts of the job that he really loved, with once-per-month visits home.

We made the plunge to homeschool our two boys for 3rd grade and kindergarten, a decision we’d been praying about for over a year.

It was one big, giant adventure looming just at the horizon of our lives, and I was excited that my husband was given this opportunity.

That’s when I stopped sleeping.

I would watch the clock as it blinked the minutes by, thinking things like: Kris needs to teach me how to use the edger so I can keep up the yard well. I need to get a car charger for my phone so that GPS can lead us all the way to Little Rock without dying. Should we stay with him a few days, or a whole week? I should start making a packing list. How will the boys handle their father being gone? Will video chats be enough?

My feelings were so strange about the whole thing … I was looking forward to meeting the challenge. I was determined to step up and show how tough I am. I wouldn’t drag my husband down. I was grateful for the chance to grow in our family, in our marriage, and in our parenthood. So why was I already missing my husband? He hadn’t even left yet.

A few days before leaving day, I had dinner with a few mom friends. We talked about the typical range of topics for women excited to be in each other’s company. A discussion that was particularly intriguing was the weight that social media can sometimes add to a woman’s “mental load”. I instantly related to this, and asked what they do to relieve the burden that we all seem to be obligated to, or trapped in. When one friend mentioned a social media fast, I knew I had to try it.

“I know three weeks sounds like a long time to avoid social media, because nowadays that’s the only way many people communicate,” she said with bright, encouraging eyes. “but give yourself no less than three weeks. I promise it will change the way you look at social media, and you won’t be the same, in a good way.”

That night, I deactivated all of my social media accounts (without explanation or announcing my impending online absence), and deleted the apps.

For the first two days, I found myself habitually reaching for my phone when I had a few extra minutes of silence. “Oh, right,” I would say to myself with a generous eye roll. “No social media.” I thought I would need to use intentional restraint, like when I spot the chocolate in the back of the pantry when I’m avoiding sugar, and I have to clench my jaw and walk away (with agony).

After those first two days, I didn’t think twice about it.

This surprised me.

The other surprise was exactly how much of a relief it was to be away from it. I didn’t feel obligated to keep up with the people whose lives I only witnessed through my phone screen. I kept up via text and phone calls with my closest friends, but otherwise, I didn’t miss a thing.

Did you catch that?

I didn’t. Miss. A thing.

A few days ago, I decided I should probably check my progress, to see if I’d met the 3-week deadline as my friend had suggested.

The “fast” had actually reached the 6 week mark.

Let me drive this point home … I DIDN’T MISS A THING.

I decided to make a list of the shifts and changes that had occurred in the absence of social media.

  1. I wrote in my journal more.
    Oh, how I had missed writing in my journal. I even grabbed a new, fresh diary off my shelf and thoroughly enjoyed penning the first page. Without writing posts, I suddenly had a desire to keep my thoughts private. I’d also forgotten what a beautiful ceremony journal-writing can be… a kind of meditation that relaxes and is distinctly anti-anxiety.
  2. Holding onto my thoughts deepened them.
    While filling pages up with handwritten words, I wondered how often those words would have become splashed into a status bar instead of inked onto a piece of paper. I realized that I spoke very differently into my journals than I did into the realm of social media. The words came out seasoned with more wisdom than they would have been on Facebook or Instagram.
  3. I wrote more, in general.
    Instead of spewing words into social platforms, I invested them into other things. I wrote paragraphs of internalized thought threads that didn’t seem to serve any real purpose at all, until a few hours/days later. Suddenly those thought threads became untangled, and my mind was filled with calming conclusions rather than anxious wonderings.
  4. I searched the Bible for answers more often.
    I realized how frequently I turned to the advice of others before I sought out the Scripture. It made me feel ashamed, and I realized how much my social media use had turned into an idol in my life.
  5. I spent more time with my kids.
    Okay, this may sound ludicrous, but I legitimately spent more time with my children than I did before. Part of that was because we were bored in a hotel room, and we were also homeschooling. But when I felt boredom set in, I didn’t pick up my phone to scroll through news feeds. I pulled out board games or a deck of cards. And if board games weren’t available, we made up our own games. I think it’s a good idea to point out that my social media time before was NOT excessive to the point that I neglected my children in favor of Facebook. The absence of social media DID, however, force the formation of new habits, especially when I felt bored or restless. And those new habits led to many rounds of Uno with two enthusiastic little boys.
  6. The pettiness was gone.
    Let’s be real here … social media brings out the pettiness in us all. I was relieved to have it purged, from both myself and others.
  7. I read more books.
    I read so many books, y’all. SO MANY BOOKS. It was a delicious pastime that had me gobbling up every delectable morsel I could get my hands on. We rented so many books from the library, I almost felt the need to apologize. Almost.
  8. I watched more people.
    Okay, let me explain before this sounds really creepy … people-watching is fascinating. While in public, I didn’t take endless pictures of my kids and post them. I took a few photos to capture the moment, then immediately put my phone away because I was relieved of the pressure to show them to people via social media. Because I didn’t pull up my social apps and post the photos, I spent more time watching the people around me. I won’t spoil the fun for you by describing the entertainment of people-watching … just put your phone away and try it. You won’t regret it.

I’ve now activated my social media accounts, but I am determined to use it at arm’s length. I’ve been freed from the spell, and the freedom feels amazing.