I’ve tried and failed to take a break from social media in the past. Often it’s that I needed it for work, but mostly I’m just addicted. Finding myself increasingly frustrated with who I am in real life as a result of what I project online, I decided it was time for another go. For the whole month of September.
There are several reasons I think it’s time to take a break from social media:
- The time is right. I stepped away from my social media consulting work to a full-time role where my corporate social media work is currently minimal. I have no online presence to maintain but my own.
- Social media distracts me. Speaking of work… I keep Tweetdeck, Facebook and my phone on and in my face every second of the day. I don’t always address everything that comes through but I do notice it and make a decision about whether or not to respond. It may only take a split second–Respond? Don’t respond? What to say?–but all those questions add up and lead to a real life psychological problem called decision fatigue wherein the quality of our decisions deteriorates over time. (Not to mention, science says small distractions are making you a terrible writer.) As for social media distractions during real life socializing, I hate myself for looking at my phone when another human’s face is in front of me. But I do it all the time. I love having my phone handy as a camera for capturing memorable moments but the instant sharing of those moments and subsequent search for validation via likes and comments rips you right out of what was happening.
- Social networks make me anti-social. The internet is an enticing environment for an introvert because it makes you feel bolder and more in control than you are in the always unpredictable real world. You can create, project and maintain any image you want without concern for the unexpected. This can be a really good thing. I’ve met some of my very best real life friends online, and even my boyfriend was the Tinder jackpot of the century. Unfortunately, ongoing online communication creates a false sense of social interaction where we feel connected but are increasingly more isolated.
- Social media makes me lazy. Nothing really has ever made me sadder than my mom (who is not on Facebook) saying, “Please don’t forget to send me pictures.” I think being online we fall into this lazy pattern of passive sharing where a blanket public post is enough to satisfy just about any announcement. I’m as lazy about sharing my life with important people as I am about celebrating others when big things like babies and weddings get boiled down to a single-click like.
- I am wasting my time and yours. There are definitely some very thought-provoking, intelligent pieces posted online (more so on Twitter than Facebook) and I’ve found it to be the ultimate news source, but for the most part the social world is awash with clickbait garbage, celebrity news, and lists of shit we should be doing to be better at [insert literally anything here]. There was once a time when Facebook really was a place to keep up with what your friends are doing. Now it seems to be a neverending string of mindless time-wasting distractions we can’t seem to stop sharing. I think this is why I prefer Instagram to anything else right now because it (usually) really is just a behind the scenes (highly filtered) look at someone’s life rather than a look at the nonsense the read online.
- I have some fun stuff going on. I’m training for my first triathlon at the end of this month. I’m going to Vegas for the first time with my girlfriends for absolutely no reason at all. I’m crazy crazy in love. My little sister just moved into town and now we get to hang out sporadically. My brother’s baby won’t stop growing. I have a huge work event in NYC in a few weeks. I’ve made my triumphant return to yoga and it feels so good. And I just kind of want to see what it feels like to participate in those things without the desire to tell everyone about them as they unfold.
- Social media is fake. Everything you see about me online is an image. It’s me, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a carefully crafted, perfectly timed, filtered image of what I want you to know and see. I know this about my end of the deal but somehow forget that it’s true for everyone else, and I get caught up in the comparison trap. One of the clearest realizations of this for me was being at events and seeing them unfold in real life and then seeing the snapshots people shared online afterwards. I’ve been to events that I haaaaate and then realize when I see everyone else’s pictures go up that had I not been there, I would have been super jealous to have missed that super awesome posed candid moment. What we share and what we actually do aren’t always mirror images, and the filtered snapshots always seem more enticing than what really went down.
I don’t hate everything about social media. I just hate the way I manage (or fail to manage) my time and myself on it. Ultimately I just want to step away, take a breather, and figure out what’s for me and what’s for show, what I need and what I don’t, and what it feels like to live in the 90s again.
I will still be blogging here all month in what I hope is a less instant, more thoughtful way.
PS – I can’t even tell you how many times I have said “See you in November” and been reminded that October is also a month. October. See you in October.