WE WERE ON A SOCIAL MEDIA BREAK – any F.R.I.E.N.D.S. fans here? It’s absolutely my comfort show, but Ross and Rachel shouldn’t have gotten back together. And she should’ve gone to Paris.
Anyway, I’m not leaving social media entirely. I mean Ross and Rachel still saw each other. But I am choosing to prioritize my blog over my social media for so many reasons. But the biggest one is that I am choosing to show up to my life in ways that make me feel like the best version of myself. Several years ago I read the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and I implemented those principles into my life. It was hard at first, but then it felt great. Then life happened and I slipped back into my old habits. Now I’m starting over intentionally.
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
So, what is digital minimalism?
Essentially, it’s a philosophy that encourages us to focus on quality over quantity. It asks us to take a look at our lives and look for areas where we can reduce digital noise and create space for the intentional use of technology.
The book is organized into three parts: the theory of digital minimalism; the practice of digital minimalism; and a guide to implementing the principles in your life. I’m not going to go into great detail because I think everyone should read the book, but an overview of it really explains why I’m making the decisions I’m making.
Part 1 (the theory) starts with an overview of how we got here: a constant influx of new inventions has revolutionized the way people communicate, interact, work, and play. But these new technologies come with side effects that can be incredibly detrimental to our mental health. Did you know that social media is literally addictive? Studies have shown that when we get notifications from social the same areas in our brain light up as when we’re gambling? But it’s more than that – we just grab our phones when we get bored or fall into mind-wandering mode. I don’t want to do that anymore.
I am (re)implementing the practice of digital minimalism. I’m taking the social media apps off of my phone and I am scheduling time to be on social for my job. More on that later, but first the why. After all as Simon Sinek says “start with why.”
I Want to Avoid Mindless Scrolling
Have you ever gone to the bathroom, found a funny video, and somehow you were in there way longer than you needed to be? Yeah… me too. That’s not the best for me because I don’t feel good after I do it.
I Feel the Most Jealous when I’m on Social Media.
That’s not easy to admit. Especially not in big bold letters. But it’s the truth. When you’re on social media, it’s easy to have feelings of envy when you see what other people are doing. Even when I’m happy for my social media friend I’m sometimes still feeling jealous. I LOVE seeing your vacation photos. But also FOMO. You’re looking at their life as a highlight reel, so everything seems perfect and everyone seems happy.
The reality is that everyone has bad days and things going on in their lives that they don’t share online. But it takes a conscious effort to think about your feelings and remember that no one ever posts only the sad or bad parts of their lives online. IN FACT, even when people are posting the hard parts of their lives it’s easy to ignore it and scroll on to the next fun thing. These parasocial relationships make us think we know it all even though we really don’t.
There are other negative emotions that I can feel while scrolling, too: inadequacy, anxiety, and depression. All of these are amplified when I engage with social media platforms because they are designed to give us constant stimulation and to increase our dopamine levels (the chemical released in your brain that makes you feel good) by showing us content we enjoy or find interesting. On top of this, while we use social media apps like Facebook and Instagram to connect with others and be part of something bigger than ourselves, there is actually research showing that spending more time on these apps leads to feelings of isolation for users!
Can we Skip to the Good Part?
I am taking a break from social media because I think it’ll be healthier for me mentally and emotionally.
- I want to be more mindful of how I spend my time.
- I want to feel more positively about myself.
- I want to be more present in the moment.
- I want to build meaningful relationships.
- I want to take my time with the things I share.
I want to build meaningful relationships and interactions
If you’ve been on social media for a few years, have you noticed that the time you spend interacting with friends and family there is different than it was when you first started? I’d bet that the number of people who regularly interact with your posts has decreased. I’m not blaming the algorithm or saying it’s impossible to build meaningful relationships online. I’m just saying that there’s a lot of noise to sort through while attempting to form connections. So I’m focusing on slow growth via my blog and reading other people’s blogs. I’m hoping that level of intentionality will make a difference in my online relationship.
When I am on social media I’m going to be intentionally building relationships and utilizing the new feature where we can see our feed chronologically.
I want to take my time with my posts.
I want to take my time with my posts, and to consider each word and its intentionality. It should be worth your read and worth your time. Writing a blog post takes a lot more intentionality from me than a social media post. I can then share smaller sections of the blog on social. Things I’ve already put a lot of time and thought into.
Positive ways to connect with friends and family
So what’s someone on a social media break to do, if they want to keep in touch with old friends and family? Here are a few suggestions:
- Time-blocking. Dedicate a period of time for being in your social media inbox. You don’t need to be accessible 24/7. Being accessible for 30-60 minutes is plenty of time.
- Email. While it’s not as instant as texting, email can be a great way to keep up with people you don’t see very often. You can share more about your life this way. My sister would send out monthly newsletters to update us all on her family and share a lot at once.
- Texts. They are an easy way of maintaining quick contact with people who live across the country or across town. If someone wants an in-depth conversation about your lives and loves, texts probably aren’t for that—but for keeping up with the day-to-day, texts are perfect.
- Phone calls. When everyone is busy and life gets hectic, picking up the phone and calling someone can feel like too much work—but talking on the phone is one of my favorite ways of staying connected (and I like hearing their voices!). It also forces me not to multitask while we’re talking, so I really get into what they have to say—and it makes them feel appreciated!
- Marco Polo. I’ve fallen in love with this app thanks to my friend Brooke. It’s like texting but it’s video messaging and it’s so nice because you can see their face. But unlike facetime or a video call you don’t need to schedule something you can just reply when you’re free.
- In-person. This one speaks for itself since nothing beats being physically present when connecting with others in real life! Make plans to meet up for tea. I’ve started making plans immediately when someone says “we should get together.” Such a huge difference!
How to Take a Social Media Break When Your Job is Online
It’s time to talk about boundaries. I am a content creator and photographer. While I don’t exactly get paid for being online I do get found via online platforms and that in turn does pay the bills. So a social media break isn’t exactly the easiest thing. But I think it will be so beneficial.
In the past that has meant that my work often follows me into personal spaces, like the living room or a family holiday. And on the flip side, I seeped my personal life into my business life. Sometimes I’ll mean to post on Instagram and then look up an hour later watching a reel about puppies swimming in a pool. Definitely not related, not moving my business forward, and not connecting me with my community.
Keep in mind that your boundaries are defined by what is most meaningful and helpful to you.
Here are the things I’m going to be implementing to create boundaries between work and personal. And personal online and personal offline.
- My phone isn’t invited to the bathroom, or the bedroom, or the kitchen, or the dining room table. I’m not taking my phone to the places I don’t want to be using it. For this social media break to work I need to create clear boundaries. So where is my phone invited? The living room for personal online time. The office for business online time. If you don’t have a dedicated office space can you dedicate a space in your house that is just for business phone use?
- I’m taking all the apps off of my phone. I can plan and post and comment and interact via my computer during set times. If this is too extreme for you you can set timers on your apps with iphones. You can also turn on downtime which only allows for apps you allow, texting, and calling to be available. I’m deleting the apps because I’ve had time limits set for over a year and now my habit is to ignore my limit whenever it pops up. Removing the temptation altogether is better for me.
- I’m planning my social media posts ahead of time. Remember when I said I wanted to take my time and be intentional about what I post? By planning out my blog posts and then how I’ll share about those things on social media I am choosing to be more intentional with my time spent of social.
- I’m setting online office hours. These online office hours are when I will post to social media, when I will reply to comments and interact with my community. I won’t have an endless amount of time to spend online so I will be more intentional babout my online interactions.