The intended start and end for my social media break was Saturday morning to Monday morning. However, when I woke up Saturday, I immediately checked my Instagram page. Instead of beating myself up about it, I decided the break would start Sunday morning and end Wednesday morning. This post will describe why I decided to take a social media break, how I did it, what happened during the break, and what I learned from it.
I was becoming too caught up and emotionally attached to my numerous time lines. I have social media accounts with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (these are the ones I use the most). I also have business accounts on Facebook and Instagram, my assistant manages those. As well as Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Nextdoor. I often found myself thinking "I don't want the opinions of others to influence my opinions about things." I was also questioning how much time I spend on social media and what I was actually getting from it. I noticed that my engagement with social media was inhibiting me from being present in the moment (during conversations, spending quality time with loved ones, as well as other times. Also, with everything going on in this country and in the world as a whole, social media has become volatile, angry, and tiring. Of course there are some bright spots, educational moments, and some fun, however, the overall mood was draining.
This was also a theme that was coming up for my clients in sessions. I understand that my clients are reflections of myself and they push me look deeper into me. So when I found myself suggesting social media breaks for them, I felt that suggestion applied to me as well. Something else to note, in the past when I took a break from social media, it was while I was on vacation so I had the distractions of fun in the sun, or mountain hikes, to keep me occupied and not seeking stimulation from social media. This time, however, the social media fast took place while not on vacation, during the normal work week. This lead me to believe that the break would be more challenging.
A couple of years ago, I took a year long break from Twitter and I deleted the app from my phone. It was around the time when there was a lot of discussion and anger related to a young Black male was murdered by the police. The conversations that were taking place were emotional and angry. It was overwhelming. This time, since I was just taking a 3 day, I chose to move the social media apps folder from the home screen on my phone to the second page/screen rather than deleting the app altogether. The extra step of swiping to the next page to access the apps was enough of a deterrent for me to not open them. I don’t have any notifications turned on for my social media apps so that part was easy.
I found myself picking up my phone every few minutes or so, wanting to scroll through multiple time lines. This time, I just put my phone down. I also found myself looking at my phone every few minutes or so as well to check to see if I missed anything. When I found myself swiping to the second page, I would ask myself "why do I want to get on social media right now?" I answered the question which was usually "I am bored, wanting to know what other people were doing." At work, I started feeling really bored so I downloaded a game on my phone. Also, I remembered something on IG where someone I follow posted about their friend teaching her how to make her social media pages "greyscale" meaning they would be in black and white. I assume they will be less interesting without color.
All in all, it was a cool experience. Accomplishing this goal was not very challenging, however, it was great learning that I had the will power to see it through. It was nice to have a break from the constant influx of information. I wondered about what specific people were posting, most of whom I have never met in real life, which speaks to the community aspect of social media. I also wondered if people knew I was "gone." Going forward, I plan to limit my time on social media. Whether that looks like taking a day off each week, only using social media certain times during the day, I am not sure yet. I understand that my experience might be different if I took a longer break. I might do that as well. Or maybe a 3 day break each quarter and making it part of my self-care plan. I am much more grateful for my time now and plan to be mindful of how I manage it. The beautiful thing about this is that when I feel myself slipping back down the social media time suck, I can take a break again. I am not a hostage. I have choice. Choice is powerful.
In general, taking a break from social media is powerful in managing your mental health and self-care. In addition to taking on the energy of the conversations taking place on social media, it is also common to experience depression and anxiety related to social media. Comparing your life to the lives of others on your social media feeds can be detrimental to your mental health and well being. Taking a break from social media on a regular basis can assist in balancing your mental health and overall experience of life.
Love, live, life