I’m no stranger to digital detoxes. I’m one of those weirdos that shuts her phone off at like 8:30pm, often leaves it locked in the console of her car, and has been known to airplane mode it and shove it in a drawer on the regular. I mean, people have survived without these addictive devices for centuries – surely I can survive without mine for a few hours or overnight. And I do. I survive quite well without the blasted thing.
Hence the social media hiatus. I haven’t been into Facebook in a long while (I find it incredibly inane, but for some reason people seem to want to message me there instead of on my phone so I exist on FB regardless), but after landing stateside after a trip to Hawaii I realized how incredibly out of control my Instagram usage had become. If I wasn’t mindlessly scrolling…then I was mindlessly posting in order to gain some vague sense of validation. This may sound silly to many, but IG was a haven and a hell for me. A place where I created and shared. And also a place where I measured how friends and the world felt about me.
More interaction, more likes, and more DMs meant I was more liked.
So on October 19th of last year I unfollowed all of the IG profiles I was following. I reasoned that if I truly missed their content then I would remember them and come back to them. And on October 20th I disabled both my IG and FB pages (Snapchat I have hated since its inception so although I have one it stays idle most of the time).
When I first disabled the accounts I found that I still sought out my phone for the sole purpose of having some thing to scroll though. I wanted something to check. I wanted something to stare at when I got bored or lonely. It’s probably similar to those who give up smoking (although I get that they are addicted to the fiery sticks) who comment that they miss having that cig between their fingers or with that drink or in that car. It gives them something to do. They are conditioned to need that particular thing in that setting.
And I found that I was experiencing something similar with social media. Waiting for anything or sitting during a long train ride can feel like torture if you don’t have an IG feed to scroll though or a FB message to respond to. Awkward situations can no longer be covered up by flicking through an endless stream of IG stories. In a way it forced me to realize that I suck at being bored and uncomfortable.
And if meditation and yoga have taught me anything at all… they have taught me to sit with all kinds of feelings, emotions, and sensations. Sit with them in curiosity and with non-judgement because everything in life in impermanent. The good and the bad. Impermanence is part of life. Honestly it was pretty hard for me to learn to be ok with this turbulence when I was constantly numbing myself with the lives and content of others through social media because I was always looking for something else or someone else to be the next big thing to make me happy.
Today marks 6 months since I disabled my social media and started giving some serious thought to the way I consume this particularly addictive type of media. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve given social media a little trial run. Kinda easing my way back in. Dipping my toes back into the potentially hazardous waters of this technological social experience we have in this day and age.
I changed a profile picture here and there. Edited a few bios. And deleted/hid a few photos that no longer seem interesting to me. I wanted to get my social media pages into some sort of likable order before I started using them again. It felt weird to be sure. I felt self-conscious without even posting the first thing. Weird.
I reached out to my therapist about this feeling of dread that I was experiencing about posting to social media and instead of responding like the others with: “Why are you getting back on if you are dreading it?” she instead asked “If you enjoy writing and taking pictures and sharing them with others then why are you measuring?” Just do – and don’t measure.
Create. Share. Don’t measure. Create. Share. Don’t measure.
Stop counting the likes, the follows, the unfollows, and the views.
Create. Share. Don’t measure.
So that is why I returned to social media after all these months. Because I enjoy writing, and taking pictures, and cooking, and sharing all of those things. To me it’s a component of living my best life. Maybe people care about my content. Maybe people don’t. And to those that don’t care I say – “This art wasn’t created for you anyway.” People have already gotten offended that I no longer “follow” them back so they “unfollow” me in return. Honestly, I am much more safely in a place where I give few cares about who follows or unfollows me. My content is my own and it’s not for everyone – I’m learning to embrace that.
And as far as my limited number of those on IG that I follow? I am giving myself a LOT of extra space and time to decide what content I want in my daily life. Unlike before, I now have put in place some guidelines to think about before I tap that follow button again. And honestly some of the pages I thought I would want immediately back…I visited and soon realized that over the last 6 months their content had shifted into something I no longer want for my life.
Lemme tell ya, the hiatus felt good. It was a respite in a time when my life was especially turbulent. It was a much needed paradigm shift. It gave me stuff to think about. Stuff to work on. Definitely AFGO (another freaking growth opportunity). And I highly recommend a hiatus of your own – if you feel the need.
So, if you need me on IG, holla at ya girl – @unsteady.as.she.goes
Don’t need me on Facebook. UGH.