I’m feeling super anti-social right now. And by that I mean super anti-social media. Which to be entirely honest isn’t a new feeling for me. Facebook and MySpace came out around the time that I was a freshman in high school – well, that’s when it made an appearance in my life anyways. Even then, it was nothing like it is today. I am beyond grateful that I didn’t grow up as a child in today’s world with Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and a million others that there’s a good chance I’ve never even heard of because, well, I’m old now. I got to live my most awkward phases of life in private, and that’s totally cool with me.
Anywho, I’ve let social media consume my life for over a decade. I started using it around 14 and am now 25, making that ELEVEN years of my life. I wish I could say that in that time social media has been a positive impact on me, and that it’s really made my life better. That’s a long time to do something that doesn’t offer those benefits. But unfortunately I’m not saying that. Social media has taken away A LOT from my life. It has taken hours, days, weeks, and years away from my life. Sometimes I’m bored so I sit and scroll and POOF three hours are gone. In that time I could have learned something new, met someone new, and done something new or just simply met with someone I love or done something I love. It pains me to even THINK about the time added up that has been wasted.
There is one thing that I thank social media for and that’s my writing. I always wrote when I was younger, but I never really shared with anyone because I didn’t think it was good enough to share. So I just wrote for myself. One day my friends told me I should start a blog, not because they had seen me write even a single thing, but because they felt I spoke a lot of wisdom and maybe it would be good for the world if I shared (I’m still blushing). So I started writing, and received feedback that I was never expecting. People actually found value in the things I wrote, and appreciated reading what I had to say. I was equal parts perplexed and uplifted. But I quickly found that sharing my writing with social media just made me more invested in social media.
For example, last week I decided to start a writing project called “Project Perspective”. In theory I created it to write about people I have met across my lifespan and help others form and reform their perspective of these really unique and difficult individuals. It’s a topic I was excited to write about and beaming to share. I decided I would make the project 8 weeks long with 8 different people I have met that have changed my life for the better, or at the very least rewired my perspective to think differently and more openly about those that differ from me. I had hoped it would do the same for my audience. I finished my first project post and uploaded it. I posted it on Facebook and on Instagram, and even thought about on Twitter even though I haven’t seen my Twitter account since probably 2015. I uploaded it and I waited. I refreshed, and I refreshed, and I refreshed. One like in one hour. Barely anyone on any platform liked what I wrote and those that I reached out to who had “liked” my work hadn’t even read it before “liking” it. Ultimately frustrated, I sat around thinking COME ON MAN, DON’T YOU GUYS WANT TO BE INSPIRED, DON’T YOU WANT TO LEARN ABOUT OTHERS TO BECOME A BETTER YOU. I wanted to engage with others. I wanted my writing to create an avenue, a safe space, where people felt heard. And I wanted to listen to what they had to say. I wanted to connect to others, but nobody had anything to say.
I was trying to figure out ways to gain a bigger audience. What are the tricks of the trade? How do you get more people, people you don’t even know, to see your post? There’s a million and one articles out there about how to become “blog famous” and the steps you need to take and “rules” you need to follow. A lot like becoming Instagram famous – don’t even get me started there. I started feeling anxious because I shared something so valuable to me, with such depth (as I always do in writing) and it went either unnoticed or unappreciated.
Last Sunday was my turning point. I opened my eyes to the reality that I had been writing for others. When we consume ourself with so much social media it becomes natural to do things for others. We post status updates for others to read and like, we share pictures for others to “love”, or “ha-ha” and comment – we even go so far as to post “happy birthday” pictures and paragraphs on a social media platform that the birthday person DOESN’T EVEN HAVE instead of going to get coffee with them and telling them why they’re appreciated IN PERSON, or to post a lengthy tribute to someone in Heaven who certainly isn’t going to log in and read it later. We make everything public, and while yes, some is necessary for outreach and prevention and can most definitely be insightful, I believe the day to day posts we do are for attention. It’s tough to say, and it’s tough to hear. We all want attention. We do it to be heard, to be seen. As humans, we crave connection. We now live in a world where connection is one click away, instead of one afternoon date away. We engage less with our actual communities and more with our virtual communities. It’s an unfulfilling world I’ve always feared living in, and I think it has desensitized us to real world issues and to real human feeling.
I created “Project Perspective” to help others see a new perspective, but in turn my writing project actually gave ME a new perspective. Last Sunday I deactivated my social media. I deleted Instagram, I deleted Snapchat (send all baby pics, and lots of them, via text please and thanks), and I deactivated my Facebook. The one thing I kept was my blog. Because I decided that I am no longer writing for others, I am writing for myself and I should be able to continue to do that when and how I want. If others want to read – great, and if not that’s okay too. I’m tired of monitoring my post statistics and evaluating my writings worth based off of likes and comments.
I have never felt so free. I have SO MUCH TIME. My days are infinitely longer without social media. It’s taken a little bit of practice to rewire my muscle memory, because my thumb naturally scrolls to where my apps used to be (that’s when you know you have a problem). I feel more thoughtful, and more connected. I’m a big “energy” person, I believe wholeheartedly in the energy we put out and the energy we receive and mine has been unbalanced for far too long. I don’t wake with headaches anymore, I don’t check my notifications before I say good morning to my girls, and sometimes in the day I find that I’m even BORED. And I can tell you that being bored is one of the healthiest feelings I’ve felt in a long time. I never had the chance to be bored with social media because I was receiving so many inputs and sources of stimuli all day long. Sometimes I would even be on my computer, my phone, and watching TV all at the same time – literally the recipe for early Dementia. I was teaching myself to be indecisive, overstimulated, and addicted to feedback. My brain was rotting, and it was leading my self confidence out the same door.
Now when I’m bored I’m forced to think. I allow thoughts to flow through my mind, and travel the lost network paths – about life, about our world, about the unknown, about who I want to be, about who I am, about those I love, anything and everything. My mind is allowed to just simply sit and think now. I’m allowed to be annoyingly curious again. When I’ve reached my curiosity max I go for a walk, volunteer for a new organization, go to a group fitness class, play with my sweet girls, read, draw, do arts and crafts that I haven’t done since school age, or just play some music and clean and do laundry because what else is there to do? And the kicker, I don’t feel the need to share any of that with the entire world because I’m doing it for me. I am proactive and engaged and even though I’m “disconnected” via social media I have never felt more connected to my world and my community.
People tell me all the time, “yeah I hate social media but I can’t delete it because I have friends and family everywhere that I keep in contact from Facebook”. I get that. I’ve lived in many different states and have friends both across the country and internationally. I rarely live near a single immediate family member. Social media makes it easy to see what everyone’s up to. But imagine a world where you keep in legitimate contact; where you get their number, their email, their mailing address even and communicate in other ways. They send you pictures and messages and life updates and you learn about each other (instead of just seeing what meme they posted recently). You write down birthdays (taboo). You reach out. You have real life, genuine conversations. Saying that you have family and friends you want to keep in contact with but can’t without social media is an excuse, and it’s not a good one. The truth of the matter is that we want to keep tabs on others without having to talk to them. We want to prove to others that we are doing good, and we want to see how others are doing too. Those that you love and care about don’t care if you have social media or not because they already know how to reach you regardless. Those that don’t, DON’T. I triple dog dare you (so now you have to) to find someone that you have NO POSSIBLE WAY to talk to them without a social media platform. Aka someone that has a device that allows them to use social media but they have no other way of being contacted on that same device… let me know…
I’m not saying it’s wrong if you love and utilize social media, you do you. Just don’t tell yourself you HAVE to in order to remain social.
I’m also not saying I’ll feel anti-social media forever. I think all good things come in moderation. Maybe I’ll check in periodically throughout the year to see others that I don’t talk to often and their major life updates (babies, weddings, super cool new jobs and opportunities), and to post major life updates of my own – CONSCIOUSLY. Or maybe I won’t, I don’t know. I’m not deciding that right now because right now, I am so happy living the way I am. I want to keep this life of intentionality, and only voluntarily engage in what serves me and others positively. I may or may not continue Project Perspective, but if I do it will be on my own terms. It won’t be “every Sunday at 2 pm” because I am writing for myself now. When and what my heart wants to share I will share, when it doesn’t I won’t force it just to receive likes and comments.
I am writing for me now. I am living for me now. I am becoming more selfish everyday, but in the most beautiful way.
Light & Love.