Collectively, we’ve all considered it.
We’ve all wondered what it would be like to just peace out and go back to the days when our every move wasn’t posted in some form on the internet.
Some people we know have even—gasp—done it!
Social media specifically feels so…smoke and mirrors.
You know those yearly holiday cards we get? The ones where everything comes across as hunky dory?
The thing is, our holiday cards, similar to social media, aren’t meant to reveal every skeleton in our collective closet.
It’s a chance for us to celebrate the small joys with some cheerful smiles. It feels like a brief moment of happiness. I legit look forward to getting cards each and every year.
Especially because they are special. Holiday cards only come once a year.
But, social media is all day. Every day. In yo’ face.
While social media for me was a fun space for storytelling, ones that I enjoyed making people laugh with my sometimes entertaining shenanigans. It has, over time, become somewhat heavy. A reflection of the current state of the world, no doubt.
Over the last year, I found myself posting less and less anyway. Feeling a deep need for more privacy and personal space from the seemingly fake social media rat race of it all.
I naively thought that the deliberate misinformation that was occurring on these online channels was actively being checked. Reigned in. Independent investigations acknowledged.
Then, the Facebook whistleblower gave her testimony on Capitol Hill.
And that was it for me.
I knew I needed to step back and take into account how much time I wanted and needed to spend on social media.
The hard truth is, my entire business is based on referrals. There is something magical about that too. Knowing that my work is recommended enough that former clients hand out my name to friends and family is a wonderful feeling.
There is also something demanding about that too. People know me and recommend me often based on what I’ve written about that has been shared on social media.
Ah, the catch 22 the Zuck knows all too well.
What happened around the time of the Facebook whistleblower hearing earlier this fall was a perfect storm of sorts in my own life anyway.
Life got in my face asking me what the hell I wanted knowing going back to normal wasn’t an option, we’re now in the new normal. Buckle up. It was the back to basics session that my heart and mind desperately needed.
I quietly left posting on Facebook and Instagram all together.
I put up an away message on both channels in case anyone needed me for business-related projects.
I deleted the apps off my phone.
I checked in on both sporadically via my computer and sometimes, if I’m honest, on my browser on my phone.
But ultimately, the doomscrolling stopped.
My hive mind was quiet for the very first time in years.
I rested while the world carried on.
And it was perfectly okay.
There were FOMO times (described below), but legitimately ask yourself: if the people involved in your life are only seeing and interacting with what you post online and not with you outside of that, are those considered close connections? Are those people who will have your back? Are those people who know everything that is going on in your life?
Sometimes the answer is yes! Sometimes it’s…debatable.
And it’s okay if it’s tough to swallow that reality pill.
It’s also totally okay to have close online connections with people who aren’t in your day-to-day, pick-up-the-phone life. Gosh, I’ve made some amazing, life changing connections through social networking.
Some have turned into offline friends too!
Some were friends from years past that our only connection now is through social media. Those are wonderful too!
But if you fear going offline because no one will know what’s going on in your world, that’s a time to take stock of the relationships you have with people who love you.
And for the record, people do love you.
The Plan Going Forward:
In order to maintain some semblance of control over my narrative, you’ll be finding more of my entertaining stories on my email list.
I’ll still be on social media, but in a much more intentional way. My business dictates a presence there and while I’d like to work my way away from that—as others have proved you can—I’ll need a bit more time to see how the next few months play out.
That’s the full, honest truth.
It would be great to yank that band-aid off, but since so much of my business IS storytelling, (and I sure do love storytelling), most of it often happens on social channels. So, I need to dip my toes back in slowly before deciding if I want water wings to jump back in or to lay permanently on the beach.
The beach sounds good now, doesn’t it?
I always maintained that social media was a positive thing in my life as I used it for sharing life anecdotes or entertaining shenanigans, and connecting with other amazing human beings. But if the pandemic showed me anything, it was how nasty people can be when they are hurting.
And the world is hurting right now.
The doomscrolling turned into me doubting the good in the world and that’s not a place I like to set up shop in for long.
So I’ve curated my feed. Deleted the drama. Followed hashtags that bring me joy. And quieted the noise, albeit probably temporarily.
I’m carving out specific times each week to be on the socials and certain times my phone is down and away from those feisty fingers ready to see what your kids dressed up as for Halloween because OMG THEY ARE THE CUTEST!
How To Limit You Social Media Intake:
If you want to start on the path to living a life more in the present and less about sharing what you’ve had for lunch, welcome!
So many people feel similarly to you. I’ve been off social media previously, so take these steps from someone who has been there, done that.
- If you’re someone who posts, start by seeing how often you have the urge to post. Sit with that for a hot second before tip-tapping away on your phone or keyboard. Very often, for me, it was something funny to share, but it took me out of the present and veered the focus car away from a task I was in the middle of. Once you see how often your brain thinks to share, you’ll see how much you’re missing in real life. From there, limit what you’re sharing to the very best or planned content.
- If you’re someone who stalks. Wait, there’s a better way to say that… If you’re someone who doesn’t post much but lurks, delete the apps from your phone. No, really. (It doesn’t delete your content, just the apps themselves.) Think of this like taking away a pacifier from your kid. You’re gonna go looking for it a lot in the beginning, but soon after, you realize you don’t need it as much. Plus, if you’re like me and need to be on the channels for your biz, limit your time initially to having to log in from a computer.
- If you’re really taking a hard core break like I have, utilize the away message that FB and Instagram allows for business pages. This is what mine said:
Hey! I’m taking a social media break. If this is work-related or you’re looking for a fun-loving copywriter who knows way too much about the British monarchy, shoot me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org. The world feels heavy right now — know that we’ll get through this too. Be sure to take care of your kind hearts, my loves. 💛
- If you need a social channel for the connection to groups (these are the main reasons I still have a FB account), use the news feed eradicator for Chrome, the time limit option on your phones to limit the amount of time you’re consuming or use the Freedom app that I love so much.
- If you’ve found yourself doomscrolling again, offer yourself some grace. These applications are literally designed to be addictive. It’s totally okay to reverse course once you can feel yourself being sucked back in and try a different route. Maybe those time limits were too short? Maybe you find you like Instagram better? Maybe you want to have a beer with Zuckerberg and ask, “WTF are you thinking?”
What You May Feel After Limiting your Time on Social Media:
I don’t need to be everywhere, know everything, see all.the.things and consume each picture and post to still be involved in people’s lives.
I can curate my real life feed with things like: art, cooking, reading and watching a damn show without scrolling social media.
I’ve definitely had to tell people I don’t know what they’re talking about because I didn’t see their post. Guess what? It’s totally cool. I got filled in and we moved on.
I’m not quite sure what to do with my hands when I’m tasked with filling the time I’d normally be scrolling, with…real life things. The funny thing is, I figured it out pretty quickly by meditating or reading. My resting heart rate also decreased 10 points in just one month of being off and focusing on…me.
I’ve had to promise myself that I wouldn’t be mad about seeing how much time I’ve spent of my life on social media. Once you start seeing it after being off it, it can be upsetting. It’s okay!
What To Do Next:
Sign up for my sassy newsletter to get the goodies on what’s going down on my side of the Pacific.
Take inventory of what you’re consuming. Does it make you feel good? Does it toss you down the rabbit hole of envy, anger or sadness?
Know that with or without limiting your social media, you will be okay.
For me, it boiled down to where I wanted to spend my time and how my body felt about that.
Limiting my social media showed me I made the right choice.
Your “right choice” may be very different.
P.S. To those of you who noticed my absence and reached out to me, thank you. While it seemed I quietly left the social media party like any good Irish goodbye does, it was more-so an intentional signing off on my part. I didn’t feel the need to put up a post about what was going on. Still don’t, in fact. That may have felt abrupt based on some of the concerned messages I got. Let me tell you, for a middle child whose parents have forgotten her birthday, you reaching out to say you missed me meant a lot. I see you. I hear you. I love you for saying that I mean something in your life. Thank you. Now, go carry on with your day before I get all emotional typing this out alone on my kitchen island.