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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