What I learned from my social media hiatus

So as mentioned in my previous post, I took a break from social media. It wasn’t THAT difficult, I don’t have most of the apps on my phone that many people do. No Snapchat, no Twitter, no Tumblr. But I did have Facebook and Instagram. How hard could it be, right?

Well, hard at first! I sat down to watch the morning news, coffee in hand, and immediately opened up my phone. Oops. Ok so I put it down and watched the news. And then opened the phone again. Drat. OK, harder than I thought.

So I decided to implement a filler. Anytime I went to open my phone, I would instead read a page (minimum) of whatever book I so choose. I love reading and don’t always have time to sit and really enjoy it, so maybe this addition would allow me to get more pages in! And let me tell you, this really helped. I opened my phone a third time, and thus remembered to pick up my book and go sit on the porch. I enjoyed my morning coffee and read a few pages.

It was calming and enjoyable. And how rarely do I sit outside at 7am reading my book? Almost never until this experiment! It was so nice to take that extra time and enjoy something that I love.

I always carry a book in my bag just in case, and this allowed me to really utilize it. Waiting for my tires to get changed? Read the book. Doctor’s appointment waiting room? Book. It turned the standard boring wait times into enjoyable blips in my day. Maybe I only read a page, but it was still better than staring at my screen.

So let’s look big picture. For one thing, I read WAY more on any given day than I might otherwise. Additionally, I felt happier. I wasn’t on Facebook seeing all the shit going on in the world. Yes I still read the New York Times daily, but it was quality writing and I read only what I chose to. I also didn’t make nearly as many impulse purchases as I normally would. I have instagram to blame for that. I am such a sucker for “omg those cute shoes!” Did I need the shoes? I think you know the answer. So it really helped keep my spending in check. If you can’t see the things other people are spending money on, you are not likely to spend that money yourself.

All in all, it was a great experiment for me. So where do I stand now? I deleted the Facebook app and don’t intend to put it back on my phone. If I want to see how friends or family are doing I can go on a computer and look it up. I won’t delete my account as I like to keep in touch with some people that way. But I won’t have it on my phone. I put instagram back on my phone, but made it harder to get to. I have to deliberately go looking for it in order to open the app. That way I think about it before actually looking at it. This seems to be a good balance for me, and I’m happy with it for the time being. I also unfollowed all unnecessary accounts.

Generally I’d say I feel better about things in general since this little experiment. And I definitely am making more structured time to read each day. So what about you? What habits are you working on and has anyone else cut out social media?

I’m taking a temporary break from social media

Today is Day One of my social media break. I am initially planning a week, to test the waters. Why am I doing this? I’m glad you asked!

First of all I want to make one thing clear, I think social media can be fantastic and has it’s place in society. It allows us to find long lost friends and relatives, track down items we might otherwise struggle to find, see the far corners of the world, and so many other things. Through social media I can watch my friends’ kids grow up across the country. I can have an authentic Moroccan tagine sent to my house. I can order out of print records from the UK in the 70s. It would be far more difficult to do those things without social media. (I realize the internet is a big part of all those things, but I tend to go in Instagram or Facebook for things before searching Google.)

But there is also a side of social media that I don’t love. It puts a microscope lens on the lives of strangers. We see carefully curated images designed to sell us products, lifestyles and more. Even minimalist instagram accounts make me want to buy things. It makes me think my house is too cluttered, my kitchen too messy, my wardrobe outdated. It makes me feel like I don’t travel enough, I don’t read enough, I don’t know enough about anything. And are those things true? No! I like my life, and though I can certainly take inspiration from the images I see, I don’t need to adapt my life to fit those ideals.

The main thing I want to work on is spending associated with social media. Between videos of Pudge the Pit and pictures of foster kittens, I always manage to see products that I’d love to have in my home. Streamlined kitchen cabinets. Rose wine for the picnic in the park. Plaid shirts and overalls. Even sweaters for my dog! I see these beautiful images and can’t help but think how those products would benefit me in some way. And am I guilty of giving into that temptation? Of course! Jethro has 2 winter sweaters if that is any indicator.

Do I need the pretty things I see on social media? Probably not. But they are beautiful and perfect and curated to make me want to buy them. It’s called being an Influencer (yep, it’s a real job!) And because of this (ok it’s one of the reasons, but not the only reason) I have decided to take a break from social media. I’m going to take a week off. Anytime I am bored and find myself trying to scroll through pretty pictures, I will read some of my book. I have a book on me at all times anyway! Might as well read more. If nothing else I will make a dent in my reading list. I am already starting to realize what a time suck it is!

So for now I have uninstalled Facebook and Instagram on my phone. I am halfway through a book today alone! And I am VERY self aware as to how much time I spend on my phone. I am going to actually connect with people. I’ll call, text, email, get together with people. I may not be getting rid of technology all together, but a baby step is a start! And I’m sure it will be enlightening.

I will keep you updated this week as to how it’s going!