What I Learned From My Social Media Break


I read a post called 8 Things I Learned from Deleting Facebook. It got me thinking a lot about social media. Thanks, Cassie!

Social Media Break

So, over that very weekend, I decided to take a break, too. Not as long as Cassie’s, but a bit over 48 hours! I jumped back in on Sunday night because I had a jammed packed week ahead and knew how many notifications could be waiting on me. I was actually kind of freaked out by how many were waiting on me. But here’s the thing… they waited! People who needed me emailed me.

It was kind of a last minute decision, so I didn’t have everything quite planned. I wasn’t able to just unplug my laptop, turn off my phone, etc. I especially needed to prep a few things and write a few non-blog documents related to my health. It wasn’t a complete and total break, but it was the start. So, I was still on my laptop writing posts, reading posts, and even participated in a Google Hangout (already scheduled last week) with other bloggers to talk about social media.

While Cassie’s post was a catalyst, this wasn’t my first break or the first time that I’ve thought about the role of social media in my life. Before I read Cassie’s post, I had already been thinking about social media. I read a post on Allison Ramsing’s blog, written by her husband, about comparing yourself on social media. While I don’t really feel that type of social media envy because I remember how I only post what I want people to see, but it can creep up when I least expect it.

Peter, Allison’s husband, brought up a ton of good thoughts about social media suffocating us, but also how about how it can inspire us. Really, I was thinking that the key was moderation, but a slow break was my foray into finding the moderation. I get tired of feeling a little tethered to social media. Also, starting last July, not long after starting a blog, it was the first time since 2010 that I had regular access to my phone or social media. Prior to that, all internships and jobs required me to leave my phone in my car.

Another reason social media has been on my mind is that chronic illness creates a lot of physical isolation. So, since I’ve been pretty sick, I’ve learned a lot about who are my friends and who are not my friends. I moved far away after college, so I didn’t hang onto a lot of college friends. Then, while I was already sick, I moved to a strange city to be near my family, so I never got the chance to make new friends.

I’ve made some good connections online, through my blog and other social media outlets (shoutout to my IG dystonia friends!). However, it’s been problematic because the relationships are still shallow. It can feel like they are real friends, even if you meet in real life occasionally. Still, it’s different. Most of the interaction is on social media. You might have blogging in common, but that doesn’t make you real friends.

So, after reading a lot and thinking a lot, I did my social media break. This was my second “break” in the past six months. Since I have a blog, it takes a little more preparation than the average person’s break, likely.

You can expect some posts in the next few weeks or month about the role of social media in our lives, especially the lives of chronically ill. There are pros. There are cons. There are ways to use it for good. There are ways to use it in such away that hurt us. I look forward to having discussions over the roles of social media in your lives!

 

How I Took My Social Media Break:

  • Turned off notifications for blog email, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • I moved all of those icons on my phone and iPad to the last page of my phone.
  • I did check my blog email regularly, but I had to manually decide to check it.
  • I prepared for the break by filling up my CoSchedule and Buffer.

What I Did Instead:

  • Read! Guys, I read. I was very disappointed in how few books I read during February. Yes, it’s a short month, but I was so sick that when I went through my Goodreads list, I found that I went a whole week without finishing a book. That’s rare.
  • I guess Goodreads is still kind of social media, but books are a priority in my life. I left a comment or two on there. I got ideas for more books to read.
  • Wrote blog posts. I love to write, so it’s kind of a treat. Also, I wasn’t flipping back and forth between Twitter and writing!
    I tend to write a bunch of extra posts to have on hand, get link ups ready to go since I have a prompt, plus wrote out a few other things that I had on my mind.
  • Worked on medical documents needed for upcoming appointments.
  • Spent time with family without checking my phone.
  • Cuddled puppies without checking my phone.
  • Directed my husband on how to do my laundry. (Bad foot guys…) No phone ever necessary.

What I Learned:

  • I usually spend an inordinate amount of time checking my phone.
  • I feel compelled to check my phone and always respond immediately.
  • I’m always looking for validation on social media. While I’ve given up a lot use of my personal Facebook page over the past year or so, my current increased use of Twitter has meant reaching for my phone a lot more.
    I can tell my husband (or dogs) my funny thought instead of tweeting it.
  • It won’t kill me not to check everyone’s Instagram pictures all weekend.
  • I still think about social media when I’m not on it.
  • I did miss interacting on some of the private Facebook groups that I’m in.

Going Forward:

  • I will probably continue to keep my notifications off. I had already turned off the email Twitter and Twitter sound notifications off. Now, I will keep the other notifications off for Facebook, too.
  • Blogging does naturally require social media interaction. I will be writing about how this is helpful for not just validating myself and getting people to my blog. Rather, the communities of the support groups that I’ve found on Facebook are great.
  • More thinking and more writing. I don’t know how to practically do this, but I do need to organize my emails so that I can respond to the most important ones first and put the other ones away for later.
  • I may prepare for better and more thorough social media breaks in the future for full vacations from it.

Have you taken a social media break? How did it go? How do you do social media in moderation? Or do you feel chained to it? Do you even think about it?

 

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Categories: blogging |

23 Comments

  • Chelsea W | March 9, 2015 | Reply

    This was really interesting to read. I take breaks from Facebook a lot because I feel like the posts on there really bog me down. But, being chronically ill and isolated, like you said, social media is definitely an easy way for me to reach out and connect without actually getting out. One of my closest friends who also has the same disease as me I met on the internet, and we just realized the other day we’ve been friends for around 5 years! BUT, like you also said (you are a smart lady), there are cons that come with it as well when you’re sick. I look forward to reading what you have to say about illness and social media.


    • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 9, 2015 | Reply

      Well, just last night, I wrote about the pros and cons, plus some ideas on how to still use it, but mitigate the negatives when you are chronically ill!
      I think the biggest thing that I took away from writing the post – I learn about myself and other things as I write – is that being chronically ill can make you feel powerless and like you have no control. But, there are ways that you can exercise some control over your social media, which is empowering. Like you said, taking a break from FB if it’s bringing you down, only reading blogs that inspire you, etc.
      It’s set to publish next week 🙂


  • Kristen @ SYIAP | March 9, 2015 | Reply

    Very interesting. To save money, my husband and I decreased our plan so we get less data. We still have plenty, but I had to be careful about always being on instagram, facebook, emails etc when not on wifi. funnily enough, when i turned off my cellular data for those things, i realised the times i was checking them were when i was out to dinner or with friends or waiting at the pharmacy or whatever – these times where there was a 1 minute silence or something, i would pick up my phone. it wasn’t until i turned off my data that i realised every single red light i pulled up to, my phone was in my hand opening instagram. eep. a couple weeks later, i just deleted facebook and twitter from my phone – i can always use safari if i ‘have’ to check them. instagram is the hardest for me, but yeah.. turning off the data so i can only look at home or work has really ridiculously helped. i didn’t like that i was always on my phone, so i had to change.


    • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 18, 2015 | Reply

      That’s a smart idea! Just turning the cell data off to take notice 🙂 I have been keeping the notifications off, which has definitely, definitely helped. But, I spend a lot more time at home than I do away from home, so I have access to my laptop almost all day. I plan on moving it upstairs to an “office” in the fall, but right now I can’t use stairs.But, I couldn’t even sit through the previews of a movie last weekend without spending the entire time on Twitter!


  • allisonramsing | March 9, 2015 | Reply

    This is wonderful! So glad you enjoyed some time without social media!


    • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 18, 2015 | Reply

      Thanks! I am still trying to find a balance. I think if I didn’t have a blog, I could put it away all together. However, I created a separate feed reader just for larger blogs that pertain to my specific interests like reading or writing, and I’ve really enjoyed that/sharing those posts on Twitter.But, I think to be a good writer, there does need to be time for reflection. I can’t have that if I can’t even read a book without fighting an urge to check my Facebook!


  • TheJessaOlsonBlog | March 9, 2015 | Reply

    i took a social media break. It was nice. I took all the notifications off my phone. It has been so relaxing. I want to take a social media break away from social media. I tried to do it once but failed!


    • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 18, 2015 | Reply

      I broke twice during my first “break.” I did ok this time, but I did think about it. Fortunately there are things like CoSchedule to help me automate things, but coming back to 70ish notifications is a bit overwhelming! I think I just need balance.


      • TheJessaOlsonBlog | March 19, 2015 | Reply

        Yeah. That’s a little crazy! Maybe baby steps might be better and less stressful over all.


  • Kendra Loisel | March 9, 2015 | Reply

    This is great. I think this is something everyone should do once in a while. I went away to the middle of nowhere this past Fall and had no choice but to not have a phone. It was beautiful. I love that break and the relax feeling of not needing to check my phone every two seconds.


    • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 18, 2015 | Reply

      Yeah, there are some patches on a drive that I make a lot (where I’m the passenger) and there is almost no reception. I am forced to actually focus on my book or music. Or, when I went to the Mayo Clinic, the second we drove into Florida, I swear Verizon dropped right off. I could get some WIFI at the hotel and in the hospital, but I had to make all of my phone calls or send text messages standing by a window!That was a place where I really needed some distraction, but I ended up getting a ton of writing done, even though I was under a ton of duress. I’ve noticed a slight correlation between the quality of my posts and how sick I am when I write them. The more sick I am, the better they perform. Weird, but true…I like Kristen’s idea of turning cell data off, so she has to use WIFI. My mom did that for a long time because she just didn’t understand her iPhone!


  • Kati Rose | March 9, 2015 | Reply

    I think in our day and age social media breaks are completely necessary. I don’t think we even realize how much it all weighs on us until we do manage to take a break. I always feel so refreshed, recharged, and refocused after a break – no matter how short. I make it a point to turn off social media at least one weekend a month except for a small pre-determined amount of time. It’s not much due to the blog, but it still is needed me time.


  • Annie Kate | March 9, 2015 | Reply

    I try to go offline every Sunday. It’s blissful, even for someone who doesn’t do Facebook and Instagram. There is so much more to real life than we can imagine if we are always online, and, while online friends are a real blessing, real life ones are often even more special.

    I hope you find some wonderful ladies to reach out to in your city.


    • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 9, 2015 | Reply

      Thank you. It’s probably going to be quite a long time before I’m mobile enough to get out and make friends, but I’m fortunate enough to have a supportive family that visits and takes care of me! Because you are right, the real life friends are the best ones. I really miss them.


  • Mary-Keith Piasecki | March 10, 2015 | Reply

    I need to take a social media break. I check my phone way too often. and for no reason at all. I bet I would read a BUNCH more and get more done if I just said no to my phone. yes blogging needs social media interaction but not all day everyday…at least that is what I tell myself.


    • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 15, 2015 | Reply

      Before I had to leave my job, I had never had a job where I could have a phone at my desk. 2 years of it, plus on internship meant that I had to leave the phone all the way in my car, where I didn’t even go at lunch. We couldn’t log into anything social media from the work computers. So, once I had access ALL DAY, I definitely went crazy. Turning off notifications has been helpful.Once I’m not bedridden, I would love to set up an actual office upstairs where I can leave my laptop out of the way. Before I got really bad, I did keep it at the kitchen table, so I had to go out of my way to get to it and sit in the uncomfortable chair, which really cut down on my time.


      • Mary-Keith Piasecki | March 17, 2015 | Reply

        I can imagine that not being able to be on it and then being on it would make for a lot of use. I work from home and sometimes it is slow – so whenever I am bored I just pull out my phone. It’s a terrible habit. One I want to break before I have kids so I am not constantly on my phone when I have kids. and in general I want to be off of it when I am around people.


  • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 15, 2015 | Reply

    Yeah, I’m realizing more and more how much I multitask – like checking social media while watching TV, etc. I’m trying to figure out how often I should take official breaks or work in other ways to quit checking so often.


    • Jae | March 16, 2015 | Reply

      I did a mini-social media break over this last weekend because I had gotten sick. I didn’t have the energy to even lift a finger, so I thought it was a good start (only not the best way to do so).


  • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 15, 2015 | Reply

    Yes, you definitely need it for all of your businesses! Even though blogging is just my hobby, I still want to maintain a presence. I know it won’t kill me not to like Instagram photos for a weekend, but I like to have tweets scheduled, etc.I would like to find a balance instead of having to cut it off completely, like the way you don’t have it at the dinner table!


  • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 18, 2015 | Reply

    I’m a slowpoke at replying, but I have my pros/cons of social media for the Chronically Ill coming out tomorrow! And a couple of tips on how to mitigate the cons, because, like you said, for the housebound, it really enlarges the community for a person. Not only do I only ever just see family and doctors, even when I was working and out and about, I never met other people who were going through the things that I were going through or shared my diagnosis.The biggest “con” of social media for me is the shallowness of relationships. They are better than no friends, and everyone needs to feel understood, but I don’t want it to replace real friends when I am finally able to leave the house. Once, I did think I crossed into real friendship because we shared a condition, blogged, and even lived near each other, so we would get together when I could. However, I was really only a backburner person for her, but I had very few other people. So that hurt when I found out. Friendships are so complex and the written word, plus social media adds another level of complexity!


  • Sarah @ Seriously, Sarah? | March 18, 2015 | Reply

    A long break would be a nice break, but for people who are say, housebound because of chronic illness and depend on online support groups, email for staying in contact, etc., it isn’t really practical. And, particularly, as a blogger, I want to maintain my online presence. I liked the break to reflect, but I think it will really be about finding a balance of being present in the moment and then choosing time to dedicate to online time.


  • Pros and Cons of Social Media for Chronically Ill - Seriously, Sarah?Seriously, Sarah? | March 19, 2015 | Reply

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