As many of you know, I took a break from social media over the course of Lent this year. My reasoning was one some of us know all too well: addiction.
I will admit it – I grew addicted to social media. I would constantly check my feeds on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook only to find that nothing new has been added since the last time I was on – less than five minutes ago!
To go hand-in-hand with my addiction to social media, I was dealing with the issue of the fear of missing out, commonly known as FOMO. It would kill me to see friends post things on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook to indicate they were having a good time. And some of the time, it was my close friend circle where I wasn’t invited.
My first act was to delete Snapchat for good. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I no longer had to worry about my friends and what they were doing. I no longer had to experience FOMO from watching other people’s stories. I don’t regret my decision one bit, but I did love using the geofilters.
That bring me to being off of social media for about two months. I logged off of everything on February 27, the first day of Lent, and stayed off until April 16, Easter. The one rule I gave myself was no personal use of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Keep in mind, that I do have an LLC where social media is part of the services I offer, and I have been working on marketing for the Denver Greek Festival. During this time, I used social media to post and promote on behalf of the organizations I was working with. Additionally, since I was job searching, I used LinkedIn as a means to communicate with potential employers and to find jobs. To summarize, I was only on social for professional use.
I would have to say being off of social media for that long was a bold move on my part. Social media is a marketable skill for me; it’s on my resume under the “skills” section and something I promote for my LLC. It’s an essential for my everyday life as a communicator.
I learned through this journey that there are other ways to get the news you would get on social media. For starters, calling and texting. I learned that if someone really was concerned that I wasn’t on social media and really wanted to talk to me, they had my phone number and email address. Social media doesn’t have to be the only way to contact someone, and it most definitely shouldn’t.
In terms of news, I used apps such as Flipboard to get my daily news across the web. I also watched a lot of Good Morning America to get my news and pop culture fix. It was nice to be able to consume news in a little bit more of a traditional fashion instead of relying on social media for it.
For the first couple of weeks, it was great being off social media. I had more self-esteem and felt empowered and confident. There was no sense of FOMO, allowing me to do my own thing without worrying about what others were doing. My productivity level also skyrocketed, as I was more focused on the tasks at hand instead of wasting time on social media.
Then humble-brag worthy stuff happened.
That was the one part of this challenge I knew was going to be hard – sharing all of the cool things that happened to me throughout Lent. The number one thing being that I got my first post-grad job. Of course, I wanted to take to Facebook and brag about that. I wanted so badly to share a life event to share the news of my job. But I couldn’t.
From that experience, I learned that it’s OK to go off the grid and be a little bit mysterious with you moves. You don’t always have to inform people of everything that you do and everywhere that you go. There is some beauty in keeping it to yourself and wanting people to ask you about it. It also shows you who is in your true inner circle.
Another part that was challenging was wanting to go on it during my downtime. Many of you know that I don’t have a whole lot of downtime between work and all of the things I’m involved with. When I have a mindless minute, checking social media is what I always wanted to lean towards. Instead, it was Buzzfeed, my email, or a game of Tetris.
On the flip side, I have been so busy that I really never missed checking social media. Being back on social media, I want to make it a habit not to check it while I’m at work so I can be as productive as possible while I’m there. Ideally, I would like to be on a morning/lunch/evening schedule for checking it, limiting it to a couple times a day.
The last thing I want to mention is that being off social media gives you so much more time in your day. All the time you would waste on social media could be delegated towards other hobbies. Granted, binge watching Netflix isn’t a great hobby, but coupled with reading books was how I spent my downtime sans social media.
To conclude, here’s what I learned from being off social media:
- It is so much better for your self-esteem.
- It helps you to be so much more productive in your day.
- If people really want to talk to you that bad, they can call, text or email.
- It is perfectly OK to go off the grid for a while without question.
- You have a lot more free time that can be used for other things.
- It is OK to keep your accomplishments to yourself and tell people on your own terms.
- There are always other ways to keep informed about the world.
Going forward, I hope to use what I learned to guide my consumption of social media without falling into old habits. I want to feel confident and empowered to live my life without worrying about what others do. That being said, I highly recommend it for anyone who finds themselves addicted to social media and who just needs a break.