A few months ago, I stumbled upon a blogger named Emily and her blog named Ember Grey. At the time, Emily was in the middle of a blogging hiatus while she works on her novel (how awesome is that?!). I started following her blog because I love that she is chasing her dreams. Every month, Emily asks her readers to participate in a challenge of self-reflection, kindness towards others, and loving yourself. It’s called Twelve Months of Bliss.
Disconnecting to Reconnect is the theme of Emily’s April challenge. I’ve been spending more and more time on social media lately, especially for my blog. Sometimes it’s just too much.
So here’s what I did. Two days per week this month, I have been staying off of social media, logging out of the sites on my computer and my phone. It was freeing in a way. But also very weird. Especially when I found mindlessly going to facebook.com and realizing that I was locked out.
Even though I don’t spend hours on social media every day, this challenge was harder than I thought it would be. I didn’t have a problem staying off social media for a day — I actually liked it a lot. It was a fun challenge and sort of a relief.
But I kept forgetting that I was supposed to be doing it! I slipped up a few times and accidentally clicked on my social media apps, just because I forgot I was supposed to be disconnecting.
I never thought of myself as one of those people who is always on social media, but I also never realized how often I mindlessly open up Instagram when I have a free second, in between things I am doing. It was a huge wake up call to me in how I spend my time, and how I want to spend my time.
If nothing else, I learned that social media can become a huge time suck. You don’t even realize how much time you are spending on your phone. I don’t want to live my life that way.
And here’s the thing. After my first social media-less day, I opened up Facebook. I saw all of the posts from my friends in about 5 minutes. I realized that I could get the same benefits out of social media by checking it once a day, or even less. That would save a lot of time, but I could still keep up with all of my friends and my blog too. What a radical idea!
I have always had a love-hate relationship with social media. I probably always will. I still can’t quite figure out what I think about it. Is it a waste of time? Is it a great way to preserve memories? Is it narcissistic? Is it totally fake? Is is a great way to connect with friends? Is it something we should spend as little time on as possible? Is it just inevitable?
After this challenge, I’ve realized that social media isn’t all bad. It’s great for keeping in touch with people I live far away from. I love seeing pictures of my friends from home doing something wonderful. If you are my friend you know that I love posting pictures, too. I love looking back on social media to re-live memories.
But there are problems with social media, and having a break from social media was like a vacation. There’s those political posts that get me all worked up. There’s advertisements seeping through my Instagram feed when all I want is to look at pictures of my friends. There’s the wasted time. There’s the comparisons.
I also feel like while social media is incredibly effective at enabling us to connect with large groups of people, it limits our personal interactions. I feel like I text or talk to my friends less and less and just post on social media more and more. I don’t like that.
Now that the challenge is wrapping up, I think that I will make a conscious effort to go on social media less, so that I can live more, get more shit done, and actually connect with the people I’m with. I’m not saying that social media is good or bad, because I think it comes down to how you use it and how it makes you feel.
Do you ever feel obligated to keep up with social media?
Did you take Emily’s challenge? I can’t wait to read everyone’s posts.
Or have you ever worked on unplugging? What do you think about it?