This was the first week in almost two months where I intentionally chose to log into my social media accounts. For the past two months, my life has been much quieter, and I have been much more content with literally everything. Taking a break from social media has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and it’s one I hope I chose to implement each year.
Initially, denying myself social media made me a bit edgy. I didn’t realize just how often I would pull out my phone during mundane moments, hoping to be entertained. Waiting for the kids in the bathroom? Let’s check Facebook. Waiting for my coffee to reheat in the microwave? What’s going on on Instagram? The kids are finally napping? Let’s see what’s been tweeted recently. Suddenly, I had these little pockets of time where I had to just simply wait. Which made me realize that I’m not very good at being patient.
By the second week, I had stopped the instinctive grabbing of my phone. But it was funny how my mind still evaluated moments as to whether they would make a good Instagram post or not. My eyes were opened to how I was living my life – through capturing the perfect Instagram photo, to nailing down the witty hashtag, to garnering the appropriate amount of likes and comments. I wasn’t actually living in the moment. I was living for the moment, for the recognition, for the approval that would come after. I was failing to see the beauty right here, right now, in exchange for generic praise and acceptance from a smattering of followers. That was a pretty ugly truth to be faced with.
The third week in, I realized that there were social events I had missed out on simply because I hadn’t logged onto Facebook. I was one of the last of a bunch of friends to find out about another friend having a baby, simply because I didn’t follow Instagram stories anymore. We missed a corn roast and a celebratory BBQ. Yes, these are things we all would have loved to have been a part of. And these events happened to people who we genuinely care about. And yes, there were moments, after the fact, that I wished we could have known about these events prior to them happening. But at the same time, life was so much quieter. We were under way less obligation to be places, to show up. Instead, we created memories as a family that I’m not sure we’d have been able to cultivate with the excess of online event invitations that, in the past, have quickly filled up our summer social calendar.
By the fourth week, I was forgetting my phone at home. It would languish for hours in our “tech bin” in our living room. It got used as – what for it – just a phone. And I didn’t miss it a bit.
And suddenly, here we are, almost two months in, and I don’t consider it denying myself social media anymore. Instead I’m allowing myself a little more peace and a lot less comparison.
Slowly, this past week, I’ve begun to reintroduce some aspects of social media. But I’ve set up some limitations so I can continue to allow myself the quiet that only comes from disconnecting. One small step I’ve done is to remove all the people I’ve been following on Instagram. (It was close to 600!) Now, when I go on Instagram, there’s absolutely nothing to look at other than the pictures I’ve posted. (Pictures that I want to post because, in truth, I’m likely never going to put pictures in a photo album. Instead, at this stage in my life, it’s much easier to post them online.) Facebook has been used mostly for posting about my blog, and that’s it.
Yet, it’s funny – I can already feel the urges being reborn to check Instagram one more time, to log into Facebook and be swept away for the next fifteen minutes. While I don’t know if a life without social media is actually attainable (or even wise…there’s so much we should know ourselves about what our kids will be exposed to! But that’s a whole other topic!), I know that I need to be diligent, to be intentional, and to be much more aware. Not just for my sake. But for the three people most important to me.