Oh, my prophetic soul.
On October 14th, I blogged about my social media ambivalence; just 3 days later, there was a social media incident that convinced me the universe was trying to tell me something.
On Sunday evening, Oct 18th, I deleted Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest from my phone, and resolved not visit those social media sites again for 2 weeks. Here’s how it went:
Monday Oct. 19th: My alarm goes off at 5:15am to hit the gym, and instead of spending 5-10 minutes scrolling through Twitter and Facebook checking on what I missed, I
get out of bed more quickly than usual snooze for an extra 5 minutes. So much for my social media detox getting me to the gym earlier.
Driving to school, I feel bored and antsy at stoplights. I’m 2 hours into my 2 weeks, and already realizing that I have an *actual* behavioral addiction to social media.
Halfway through the morning, it dawns on me that my main source for breaking headlines and important news is my Twitter feed. Conundrum. Download the CNN app to my phone, and feel slightly mollified that not only do I have a way to keep up to date, but a non social-media app that I can click on to satisfy the Pavlovian desire to compulsively check my phone.
Tuesday Oct 20th: Teaching a project with my seniors that I would usually share via my professional twitter account. I decide that sharing one work-related tweet doesn’t really “count” as using social media, and log into my work account, tweet, then shut it down again. Points for not even scrolling through my work twitter!
I’m noticing a tremendous difference in just 24 hours of how much I miss checking social media. I’m still feeling a little adrift, but I’m not compulsively checking CNN and the Weather Channel app like I was yesterday. Does that make me sound pathetic? Probably. But the struggle is real, y’all.
Wednesday Oct 21st: Arrive at school and realize, victoriously and virtuously, that I didn’t even miss picking up my phone to check social media at stoplights. Drive home from school and mindlessly pick up my phone at the first stoplight, prepared to scroll through twitter. #2stepsforward1stepback
Thursday Oct 22nd: Weigh our mastiff puppy, Moses, for his 6 month birthday, and am agog that he is 85lbs at 6 months old (85lbs!!!). Really miss posting this on social media. This moratorium seems stupid.
Saturday Oct 24th: My husband takes the boys to the Zelda symphony (at their pleading) and I miss being able to tweet the entire process (which turned out to be hysterical. My oldest even took a covert video of some attendees dressed from head to toe in Link gear. Including the pointy ears. And flutes. Which they played during intermission).
Sunday Oct 25th: My husband asks how I’m doing with the social media ban, and I admit that I feel a little cranky and disconnected. While I’m enjoying the complete lack of drama and negativity (and pervasive sense of guilt and unease from looking at my phone so often), I feel like a child stuck in a timeout at the playdate. He enthusiastically declares that he will post on social media on my behalf, and tweets a picture of my freshly baked pumpkin bread. Prediction? That will be his first and last social media contribution in 2 weeks (he’s as disconnected from social media on a day to day basis as I’m linked in).
Monday Oct 26th: Parenting dilemma. My middle guy is off on his 7th grade class trip to Catalina Island. Any pictures and updates will be shared via Twitter and Facebook. I contemplate
long and hard for a few minutes, and decide that checking my work Twitter is allowed, given the situation. Considering I only follow 28 people on my work account, all related to my school life, I figure this doesn’t negate the goals and intent of my detox.
Rationalization? Maybe. But my 13 yr old is in California for a week so let’s go with it.
Wednesday Oct 28th: Having a rough day dealing with unexpected nastiness sent my way, and feeling more isolated and frustrated than usual in navigating it. Fortunately my friends and colleagues are super supportive and rally around me, but I’m definitely noticing my coping mechanisms, finely honed after years of dealing with these issues, are compromised without the positive daily interaction with a wide group of friends and family.
Friday Oct 30th: Wake up to find a nasty “anonymous” comment sent to my blog at 4:09am.
I think about how we tell young people, when faced with cyberbullying, to not engage. To power down. I think of that pithy, popular post: “You’re not a tree. If you don’t like where you are, move.”
I wonder where I can go. What I haven’t tried. How silent and small I have to be, and for how many years, before I am left alone.
Decide to count my blessings and focus on the positive, and break my Facebook fast to share my October 30, 2011 memory, when my husband proposed.
When I began this social media detox, I (naively) believed that if I took responsibility for my own exposure to the negativity and drama, and engaged in more purposeful time and attention to the “real life” (whatever that means) in front of me, that it would be beneficial.
In some ways, my initial hypothesis was proven correct. I did like not spending so much time on my phone. I listened more intently to my children and husband, not halfheartedly as I scrolled through social media. I even started leaving my phone in my purse or in my office, not carrying it on my person all the time. I would go an hour or two and not even remember to check it. That was liberating, and refreshing.
However, I felt really cut off from my support network, a network, I realized over the past two weeks, that provides me with far more positive feedback than negative. Did I like cutting off any and all access to me that others obsessively use, no matter how many “blocks” I set up? Absolutely…but as evidenced by early this morning, it really doesn’t matter in the end. I can stop tweeting, posting, pinning, or blogging for weeks … and if you’re silent, they still will come.
My final takeaway? It’s all about balance. These two weeks were a good wakeup call that I was spending too much time looking at my screen and not enough time looking around. But the reality of 2015 (at least, my reality) is that a major source of information, connection and camaraderie is online, and without that, I felt like a social pariah.