Whoa, hey. So, when I originally planned to do my month-long social media exile project, I intended on posting weekly updates about my progress. And then, life happened with a family emergency and I was suddenly two weeks into my hiatus. I decided, instead, to do one big update after all was said and done.
Overall, it was easier than I expected. The first week was kind of tough. You get into a habit of checking social media every now and then and not being able to do that leaves you a little lost. It’s weird to say that the family emergency I had to attend to in week two made things easier but I was so busy that I couldn’t even think about social media. By weeks three and four, a lot of the FOMO was out of my system and I almost didn’t want the month to end.
And now we’re here. I completed one month without Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit which was an interesting experience considering how much these platforms made up my day. Here are some things I did while on my break.
What I Did
Probably what most people wonder when someone tells you they are going on a social media hiatus is, “What will you do?”
Mostly, I read. I read a lot. I cheated slightly and kept one social media website, Goodreads, running and, according to the app, I finished fourteen books in October. Three of those books were audiobooks, six were non-fiction, and the rest were a mix of literary fiction, young adult fiction, and short story collections. I was able to complete my reading goal of 52 books for 2019 last month. My favorite book(s) I read were Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb.
In addition to reading, I re-started my exercise routine. Husband bought us a Peloton in March earlier this year and I’ve used it off and on. When I was no longer spending three hours or more a day scrolling through social media, I re-distributed thirty minutes of that free time to exercise. The habit has, thankfully, carried over into November. As the days grow darker, I tend to get SAD (seasonal affective disorder) pretty hard and exercise + vitamin D is usually good for keeping it at bay until the sun comes back.
Finally, I got back into a cleaning routine. When I worked part-time in retail, I had a solid cleaning routine for my days off. But going back to full-time work and school meant some things fell by the wayside as I juggled my responsibilities. Putting social media on the backburner allowed me to get back into the swing of cleaning and pick up the 15-minute cleaning schedule recommended by Clean Mama.
Now that my break is over, I’m starting to think about how I want to proceed going forward. I don’t think social media is good for people and I worry about falling back into old habits.
I’ve decided to limit social media to Saturday mornings for one hour unless I have a specific need for social media. For example, I cheated one day during my break so I could send a friend a link to an editing certificate program I am currently going through, but I exited out as soon as my task was done. A lot of my social media surfing was spent comparing myself to others or allowing social media to keep me outraged so I would keep using the platform. My time off soothed a lot of anxiety I’d been feeling and I don’t want that anxiety coming back.
So, going forward, I’ll give myself one hour to catch up on the people I care about, read some fun Reddit posts, and then continue on with my day. The first week away from social media was tough—you get attached to the feeling of always being in the know. But after four weeks, when I came back to social media, I felt bored before my hour was up. I was able to check up on the people I really care about and then, there was nothing.
I’m also going to try to post more to my blog. I don’t expect there to be a theme at the get-go but I hope a theme starts to take shape the more I post. We’re currently one week into National Novel Writing Month and I’m participating for the fifth or sixth time (I started competing when I was 13 and have done it on and off since). So I might not post as much in November but I hope to do some NaNoWriMo tips posts and updates on my progress with my novel. So far, I’m 3,000 words behind but there’s still time.
I hope my post encourages you to try a social media break—a self-imposed exile. You never know what you’ll get done with that extra free time.
I’m giving up social media in October. It’s a decision inspired by reading Irresistible by Adam Alter and Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. Both books focus on how the internet, social media, and digital technology are causing our brains to change and the longlasting impact this could cause. Reading these books has forced me to look at and evaluate my consumption of digital technologies. For example, last week, I used my phone in some capacity for at least three hours every day. And that includes Friday when I was working an eight-hour temp job.
In Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport recommends doing a “digital detox” and going without any optional technology for one month. He defines optional technology as anything you don’t need. For example, if you need to use email for work, you can’t use the digital detox as an excuse to not reply to colleagues. Mainly, the detox is to help you reboot your brain.
Recently, I’ve become very introspective. I’ve begun to look at how I’m living my life and where I could stand to make improvements. The biggest thing I noticed was my addiction to social media in addition to the knee-jerk reaction I have as soon as I wake up to grab my phone and check my email and social media feeds. My alarm goes off and my hand is automatically unlocking my phone to see what came in while I was asleep.
This dependency on being plugged in at all times hasn’t affected my work and social life. Yet. I could see it becoming an issue if I wasn’t so aware of it being a problem.
So, for October, I’m not going to check my social media feeds. That includes the big three: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; as well as, Reddit and Tumblr. My goal at the end of this is to create a more manageable schedule for using social media and curb my compulsive phone use.
I’ll be posting in the days ahead about what I’m filling those 3+ hours of phone use with. I expect it will be a lot of writing since National Novel Writing Month is around the corner and I want to start prepping my novel for November; a lot of reading since I have a backlog of books I’ve been meaning to get to; a lot of working on course work for my editing program; and hopefully, a lot of exercise. I want to get into a regular exercise routine again and expect that I’ll be so bored that I’ll have to go for a walk or hop on the Peloton.
It’s going to be an interesting journey and I’ll hope you’ll come along for the ride!