Hey, friends. It’s quarter after nine on a Tuesday morning. I’m sitting at my desk with a cup of hot tea & honey, sick — really sick — for the third time this year. I used to get sick once a year, if that. Now I have toddlers and it’s a whole new ball game. Those sweet little hands that touch everything and those little mouths that always seem to find the dirtiest places. Anyway, being sick always makes me a bit more introspective. And yesterday, I came to a decision that’s been worming around in my brain for awhile now: I’m giving up scrolling on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and blogs for six months.
I adore social media, I really do. I love it so much that it’s fair to say that I am addicted. Since that’s the case, it’s difficult to explain this decision. The best way I can explain it is to say that social media has taken root in my life in places where it shouldn’t be.
I don’t plan on closing my accounts, and in fact, I still plan to share & post across social media. I’ll be posting here on my blog, too. What I am giving up, is looking at other people’s content. It’s not going to be easy. There are so many feeds and blogs that I absolutely adore. I feel in some ways that I am turning away from friendships that mean so much to me. There are so many people who touch, inspire, and support me through these mediums. At the same time, however, in the past years I’ve also noticed an ugliness growing inside of me when it comes to the world of social media. There are three elements to this ugliness.
The first ugliness is comparison. I simply find myself looking into other people’s, particularly women’s, lives and feeling inadequate. I know that I am not alone. I know that insecurity runs rampant on social media because what is social media anyway, but a sharing of highlights. People sharing their most beautiful moments. What happens next is only natural, the onlooker sees these beautiful moments, compares them to her ugliest moments, and is left feeling like a failure through and through. It’s a ridiculous scenario, truth-be-told, but such is the dilemma of the modern age. Whether it’s real or not, I simply need a break from it.
I want to admire the beauty that exists every day in my own life. I want to make things beautiful because I think that they are beautiful, because they speak to my soul and please my eyes; not because I saw it in someone’s feed and felt envious. As they say, comparison is the thief of joy.
The second ugliness is the diversion of my attention. Have you heard of that awful word, FOMO? It’s an acronym for “fear of missing out.” The google dictionary defines it as, “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
In my case, FOMO is really real. If I don’t look at social media for an entire day I feel a genuine anxiety rising up in my chest. I wonder what I am missing. When I finally get an opportunity to scroll, I am scrolling feverishly and heaven forbid I should be interrupted. It’s as though I am having a catch up with a long lost friend. I have so much emotionally invested in it and it’s ridiculous.
As I mentioned above, and as I too often lose sight of, social media is a highlight reel. People are not there sharing their truest deepest feelings, heartaches, joys, and truths. Well, in some cases, they may be — but if they are your true friend these are things that they should be sitting and telling you face-to-face over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. It shouldn’t be the end of the world because you didn’t see it on Facebook.
I want to stop investing so much of my attention toward social media for awhile. I would rather focus on being the best mother that I can be, on creating artistically, on my real life friendships, and on living in the real world. I hope to nurture my online friendships in some way, too. I am going to take stock of who I am missing as I move through this process and perhaps seek out “real life” mailing addresses. Paper mail, what a novel idea. I won’t dare to presume that anyone will miss me (especially since I’ll still be posting — I know it’s a bit one-sided and perhaps selfish) but please feel free to request my mailing address if you feel so moved. If penpal-ing isn’t a lost art, I don’t know what is!
The final ugliness is negativity. Over the past two years, I have found myself at times, getting genuinely furious or heartbroken far too many times over something that I have read on Facebook. All of our constitutions are different. We’re all made up of different things and we process information in different ways. Something that I have known about myself for a long time is that I am extremely sensitive. I am like a sponge. I soak up whatever is around me and it shoots directly into the very fibers of my being. I am not weak, but I am simply absorbent. There is nothing that I can do to change it, it is who I am.
In many ways my absorbancy is a gift, it allows me to care and relate deeply to others. It allows me compassion and empathy on a grand scale. I can feel love and joy for friends and family as if it were my very own. But, as with most things, there is a dark side. While social media can be a place to share great beauty it is also a place where people share anger, sadness, filth, hatred, bigotry, violence, and more. Many times, it’s too much for me to handle.
I have done my very best to speak out against wrongs and injustice. I will never give up on that cause. Yet, I won’t keep subjecting myself to it, day in and day out, at this point in my life. As a mother with two young children to care for, my energy and emotions are stretched very thin. I feel that I owe it to myself and to my babies to not expend my precious energy on the horrors of social media at this point in my life.
There is too much beauty in this world, and even too much sadness in my immediate circle, that I don’t need to be pouring myself out into the atrocities around the world every single day. If you think that I am burying my head in the sand, I am not. I have no desire to become numb or ignorant. However, I do know that there are people around me (friends, family, neighbors) who are sick, sad, hungry, and so on. Let it be my aim to make a difference, a true difference, rather than sitting behind a screen, feeling helpless, while my blood pressure rises to infinitum.
There is a season for all things. This is the season that I am in. I am a bit nervous about this change, but I am excited about it, too. I am sure that I will write more about this “social” experiment as time goes on.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I am doing. Have you ever thought of taking a break? Do you find that the good of social media outweighs the bad? I’ve been on the fence about it for so long. I suppose that is why I am taking this “six month” break and still remaining somewhat active, rather than deleting my accounts entirely. I am testing the waters.