This week I took a break from social media, stopped watching TV, and only checked my email once a day. I turned my phone off and only turned it on 1st in the morning and last thing at night.
It was brilliant. After the obligatory facebook cravings for inane status updates had subsided, I did not miss it one iota. I’m fed up with knowing everything about everyone. I hate facebook but as everyone uses it, I feel I have to as well.
I’m fed up with the privacy intrusion and the data collection and the fact they own most of the internet and are determined to buy more. I don’t want to give anyone the rights to my photos any more.
It’s interesting that during my low-tech week, I felt happy, was able to focus on myself and making plans, having fun, learning and busying and being outdoors.
Within 5 minutes of checking back in to twitter, facebook et al….well. I noticed something. I felt sad. I decided to go and get a cuppa and some dairy milk and I wondered about this for a while.
Being honest with myself, I felt a slight anger at the banality of it all. I felt like I couldn’t measure up to the beautiful pictures on instagram. I felt a failure when I saw a more successful blog. I felt that old familiar comparison to others and the need to measure up. And scarily, this was almost immediate.
Maybe it was because I’d been ‘out of the loop’ for a while that the change was more noticeable. But this begs a question. If this is what happens all the time in my general social media addiction, and no doubt I’m not alone in this, then social media plays a huge part in how we view, interact with, and ultimately enjoy the world. By constantly checking for likes and comments and retweets and being constantly bombarded with the minutiae of other people’s everyday lives, we are permanently in a state of comparison with others. And not in a good way.
It’s not healthy to live our lives defined by the standards of others. This incessant comparison seems to grind down our enjoyment of the real world. The first few days of disconnection are like falling. You are missing out. But missing out on what? What’s the worst that can happen?
Yes, social media may be the future. But we need to take care in how we use it and not bow down to what is expected of us. You just want to follow your family on twitter? Fine. You’ve got 3 friends on facebook? No problem. You’re not on any social media? Great stuff!
As humans, what we thrive on is interaction. This can be physical or virtual, for sure. I can’t deny that although I’m feeling rather jaded with social media, it’s a massive part of life for a massive percentage of the world. I just feel it’s important to unplug. When you feel lost without your phone…when you look up and realise you’ve been on Pinterest for 3 hours…when you feel sad that no one likes your facebook status…it might be time to cut down.
3 ways to experiment with removing social media
1) Don’t forbid yourself from using social media.
It’s just like a diet…if you tell yourself you can’t have something, you tend to want it more. Just allow yourself to cut down. Choose to do something else instead.
2) Keep busy
If, like I was, you are currently spending quite a few hours a day on that there internetz, it can help to fill your calendar up so you are kept busy. Boredom is a sure fire way to get you running for the nearest wifi signal. Plan a coffee with friends, go for a long walk with your camera, clean your house, give yourself permission to read an entire book, make something. Keep your mind otherwise occupied.
3) Don’t quit it all at once
One at a time. There is more chance of success when we focus on one thing at a time. Don’t rush, however tempting. I seem to have taken time out from a few things at once so I know I’m eating my words a bit here…although I am one for giving up things previously (check out my year without buying stuff). Now I’ve finished my week, I’m just going to start with facebook. One thing at a time, give it a few weeks, then on to the next. Tailor it to yourself. You may want to keep some chuck some. It’s all up to you and you only!
I’m really interested in if any of you have given up some form of social media or technology. What did you give up? How long for? How did you feel? And if you have any tips for cutting down on tech addiction please share 🙂