Life before I had social media wasn’t easier but I do remember being more free. I remember riding my bike around the neighborhood after school, driving with my friends and hanging out. I remember being bored, just laying on my friend’s living room floor in the middle of summer because her parents wouldn’t take us anywhere and we had nothing to do. We took fun pictures on disposable cameras and they will never see the light of day. They weren’t perfectly curated to make me look skinnier or prettier. They were rough, glossy pictures of the teenager that I was in real time.
I remember being told I just HAD to get a Myspace. That wasn’t terrible. I would check it throughout the days during college. I began posting my favorite pictures and picking music based on my mood. It felt representative of my current life and I liked it. I remember spending hours on it at night, looking at other profiles and pictures, sizing up someone else’s Top 8. ” Why wasn’t I in their top 8?” “What would I have to do to get there?’, I would wonder. Facebook had been around too. It felt classier than Myspace to me at the time. I could connect with people within my own school. The limited availability felt selective and exciting. Getting ‘poked’ felt like the new way to get hit on. Then as it expanded to other colleges, it was a fun way to connect with old HS friends.
Fast forward to a year out of college. I am driving to work, an afternoon shift at the Cheesecake Factory and I am thinking about my Facebook status. “What should I say? Should it be funny or more moody, like how I feel. There were about three interesting things that happened today. Which one would more people ‘ like’ more?” Then, I realized, “WTF? Why am I obsessing over doing things for a status?! Like what is this? how?”
Fast Forward ten years later and here I am checking in on my Instagram, FB and Twitter multiple times a day. Twitter gets the best of me because it always shows me all the political stuff. Since 2016, I have to stay informed. I get caught up for an hour while my two year old plays and tries to get me to play with him. I can’t. I have to know how these people view the latest outrage committed by our current president and his administration. I want to put my phone down, but I just realized I now have to share at least five new facts I have learned from Twitter through ‘people with the blue check marks’ on my Insta story. Not my feed. My personal feed is reserved for photos of my family. Since my son was born, mostly the cutest and some very limited photos. I have felt weird about sharing too many photos of him on the internet, even though my profile is private because don’t they sell my data? I don’t know. So, I share. I need people to feel how I feel and take action. Then, I check in on FB. I see the same people over and over, mostly people from HS that I no longer share the same views with posting some good ol’ ‘Fake News’. I check on a few toxic profiles to see if anything changes. Nothing changes. I am so overwhelmed and upset by all of the info I have just absorbed. It’s only 9:30 am. Now, what do I do with the rest of my day?
Fast forward to today. I used to take a month break from social media years ago about once a year. I always felt better after the detox. It’s been a while since I have done it. I’m not sure why? Maybe because I have enjoyed sharing photos of pregnancy and my son too much over the last three years. I have also been trying to create a business with my Clean Collab Insta. If you try to use social media as your platform, it is a full-time job. I am already a full-time mother with little time to spare. Finding time to curate perfect photos and captions is the last thing I want to do at 8 pm everyday after a full day of chasing around a toddler. Maybe I don’t want it bad enough or maybe I don’t want to spend all day on my phone ‘liking’ photos just to like them. Commenting JUST to connect. Following people JUST for follows. I actually enjoy one on one conversations with people in real life. I love beautiful pictures but, honestly, I am so sick of beautiful pictures. Everyone looks like everyone else. I don’t want to spend the present moment thinking about trying to create the perfect moment captured through a photo at just the right time. I want to just live in a moment and remember that moment as it was, not the photo of that moment or the time spent trying to make that photo happen.
Watching ‘The Social Dilemma’ was the breaking point for my social media addiction. I was already feeling exacerbated by the political climate and being attached to my phone all day long. I was frustrated with my never ending TDL, blaming it on lack of time due to motherly duties. When I actually looked my schedule to try and “fit in” all of the things I TRULY wanted to do in life, I found I had several blocks in my day where I could potentially do those things. What was taking up all of that time? I looked at my phone and It told me.(of course!) An average of 5 hours a day was spent on my phone, mostly social media.
The problem isn’t my phone. A smart phone has so many features that we rarely take advantage of when using it. I can create a movie for my son for his birthday, take yoga class and even read and learn all on my phone. The problem is social media. When I am on social media, I am absorbing. I reading about other people’s lives. I read quotes that feel good and inspire me. I go down rabbit holes about any and every thing possible. I read into other people’s profile and look at their pictures. I watch videos of important issues in our society. I share things created by other people constantly. And when I feel something “good enough” is available to share of my own, then I post it to my actual feed, perfectly imperfectly curated. When I am done, I am exhausted. And honestly, I have not done much with those precious 3-5 hours of time. I feel depleted.
I am an artist at heart. I am here to create and give. Social media requires so much of my attention and draws in on my emotions, that after I put it down, I need rest. I am no longer inspired enough to act or make change. I no longer want to do the things on my list. I can’t.
After reflecting on my thoughts and feelings surrounding social media, I have decided to give it up for a year. I felt strongly before that I needed to stay up to date with the information given through social media and continued sharing with anyone who would listen. Though it may also have just been my addiction. It’s hard to say. What I know right now is that I feel compelled to put down social media so I can stand up and do other things, so I can create. I am here to create a space for people to learn about a clean living and sustainable way of life. I am here to create real change in my community through places that help, like the elderly and homeless. I am here to create with dance and art. I am here to share how I am creating, but only through real life and space like this blog. Though I wanted to originally give it up for a year, I am going to start with a month. (It turns out my family can only really see my son and get to know him through social media during this time and they would be very sad not to see pictures of him.) So, if or when I come back, it might look different and may only be photo dumps for my family. For mow, I am am free.
Like I said, I remember life before social media ruled the way we live. The idea of being less connected to a disconnected network to be more connected to myself and world around me, sounds like the most liberating thing I can do in 2021.
It’s a new year!