Well, I did it. I went a week without social media (mostly, see my last post for my one slip) and I survived. I learned a lot about myself and the role social media plays in my life in the last week, and although I don't have any steadfast "rules" as I move forward, some changes have naturally occurred.
My last few days of the detox were fairly uneventful and not necessarily worth breaking down individually, as at this point I wasn't really missing checking the "big three": Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Noon Sunday (my official experiment end time) came and went, and I didn't log onto any of the sites until almost 6 pm. Please keep in mind that this time last week, six hours without any social media would've been a big deal in and of itself, so to tack that onto an entire week of online jail is pretty impressive. In the last two days, I've spent a total of maybe twenty minutes between the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Here's what I discovered:
*They are kind of boring. I start to scroll through the newsfeeds and lose interest very quickly, most likely because it's been so long since I've checked it that there's an overwhelming amount of new stuff. That's the thing about social media...to remain "caught up", you have to be constantly tuned in, and right now I'm feeling pretty out of the loop.
*They can serve a definite purpose. I missed seeing pictures and hearing about events from my friends and family who live far away, as well as cute baby pictures and all the PR/success posts from my meathead friends. I also realize how beneficial they are in staying connected to my clients at the gym. Finally, many people use the forum to make big announcements, which I totally get as a convenience to avoiding repeating news dozens of times. I learned that a friend's mother was in the hospital, another friend was pregnant, and yet another was engaged. Like it or not, it's a convenient way to share such events, and if you aren't checking in now and then, you are likely missing some big stories.
*They are a lot of work. When you post a lot, you feel obligated to respond to comments, see who "liked" things, and reciprocate by commenting on their statuses too. I've actually had people confront me for not saying anything in response to their posts! When these sites become more of a "need" to log on than just doing it for the heck of it, that's a problem.
*I'm really bad at being still. Moments of quiet and solitude are almost physically uncomfortable for me, and social media has been a crutch for me to avoid being alone with myself and my worries. Going without them forced me into a well need break from being hyper connected and constantly going. I read more, spent more time "being" with the people that were physically in the room with me, and was less stressed about everyone else's drama.
So what's next? Well, the apps are back on my phone, but all notifications are turned off. In order to know if there is any activity on my account, I have to intentionally open them, which isn't much of a temptation at this point. I still plan to check them daily, but I don't know that I will do that more than once a day. I also have a feeling that when I do log on, I will be more inclined to check the pages of friends who are positive, entertaining, and actually involved in my day to day life versus scrolling through the entire day's newsfeed. I don't mean for that to sound elitist or snotty, simply as a recognition that reading and viewing every single thing that is posted is time consuming and not entirely necessary.
Overall, I consider my experiment a much needed break for a sometimes overwhelming digital world, and I think everyone should give it a try. You might be surprised at what you learn!