Why I left social media (Spoiler: I’m back)

Don’t get me wrong. I do like social media. And I love the Internet. I’ve enjoyed night-long aim conversations and gone down many a Wiki, YouTube, Insta rabbit hole — only to learn something super random and cool at the end. I even met my husband through the internet (thanks, OkCupid). It’s an amalgamation of many of my favorite things: useful information, rousing dialogues, photographs, music, art.

But there are times when I feel tired from it all.

I’ve curated my insta feed to be full of things I love (dear friends, capsule/ethical wardrobe enthusiasts, cute animal videos, zero-waste badasses, social activists, plant-based food bloggers) — but sometimes I just need a break to let my mind wander. There comes a point when you realize you’re not having new ideas, just looking at other people’s.

In a recent piece for Medium, Thomas Oppong writes:

Despite the incredible power and potential of pausing for thought, they are quickly becoming extinct. We are depriving ourselves of every opportunity for sacred space to think. And our imaginations suffer the consequences.

The practice of deep thinking is increasingly becoming difficult for many people. In our ever-increasing digital world, every waking moment is “connected time,” for millions of people.

Deep thinking is how we increase our number of valuable and useful thoughts.

Your quantity of valuable thoughts has a direct effect on your quantity of valuable actions.

We all think, but not all of us think deeply, which is thinking beyond what your mind defaults to.

Back at the end of November, I started a project called Don’t Log In December (catchy, right?) — and this self-imposed social media fast actually lasted until the beginning of February. I knew I needed a break, but I guess I really REALLY needed a break. Sometimes we need to reset, focus inward, and just gain some perspective (let’s be real: life looks a little too good for others on IG sometimes).

“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.” Joseph Campbell

I’m back on social media (Instagram) because I missed the good things, but fasting for a couple of months helped me to slow down and appreciate the moment. There was no impulse to check my phone, see what new posts I could feast my eyes on. Also: no pressure to feel like I should make certain great moments into posting opportunities. So carefree!

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After that complete hiatus, I realized I need to be a little bit more structured with my social media time.

Here’s what’s been making things a lot more fun:

  1. Take regular fasts. Can be a 12 or 24 hours, or a month. Whatever you need to get some quiet time.
  2. Text photos to people you like. Why wasn’t I doing this that much before?! Seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget to let the peeps we love feel special by sending memories directly to them! Best part: this interaction is so much more satisfying than 100 likes.
  3. Don’t check your phone while you’re at the gym. I love zenning out during my workouts. I’m one with my headphones and nothing else matters. My phone can wait an hour.
  4. Unfollow liberally. It’s no fun to spend your time on social media scrolling endlessly until you find something you actually like. And sometimes, following certain accounts can evoke just a little bit too much FOMO.

 

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