Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.” Robert J. Sawyer
Last week, I decided to give social media a break. This isn’t new for me. Working in media, I choose to disconnect quite often. I even gave up Facebook, once. This time, I needed to focus, in preparation for 2016. Although I’ve made verbal plans and created vision boards, they never stuck with me because I didn’t get detailed enough about my goals. They were very general in concept. And so, the most logical thing for me to do was to remove my most obvious distractions: social media.
Now, I love a good Twitter chat or #TGIT night like everyone else but we all know that no real work will get done between the hours of 8pm – 11pm. That’s a LOT of time. Time you could’ve used preparing that report or spending time with your aunt or responding to those comments on your blog. But no, you’ve chosen to spend it sprawled out on the couch, virtually messaging and cackling over nonsense. I’m not judging you, I swear. But we have to be real with ourselves about what we’re doing when we know we should be doing something worth our time.
It’s very unlikely that I get addicted to anything. My personality won’t let me be interested in anything long enough. But I will become obsessed about a certain thing for whatever short period of time I have to obsess. I notice this happens the most when I’m bored and when I’m avoiding responsibility. Something I have to do but I’m afraid to do? No worries. Pull out my phone (which is most likely near me if not in my hand), open up Twitter, then Facebook, then Instagram, then Snapchat. Most likely in that order.
I don’t follow a lot of people on any given platform because I like to see what each person is doing. That sounds crazy but that’s just the way I’m set up! I also don’t talk on the phone so the only way I know what’s happening in someone’s life is by what they post online. And so you can see how this can lead to hours of time spent perusing your (and your fine friends) profiles. Ha!
I knew that 2016 was going to be my great year but it wasn’t going to happen how I envision if I didn’t plan it out. So for five days (I know, not really long – don’t judge my life), I embarked on a social media fast. I even deleted the apps from my phone. No Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, no surfing the web aimlessly, Instagram or Snapchat. I checked my email less as well. I didn’t even watch the news.
So what did I learn from taking a social media break? Glad you asked.
4 Lessons Learned From Taking a Social Media Break
- The world goes on. Reading The 4-Hour Workweek really is blowing my mind. I talked about it in this post and now I’m gonna leave you with another gem. “The world doesn’t even hiccup, much less end, when you cut the information umbilical cord.” Tim Ferriss calls this purge of useless knowledge a Low-Information Diet. You do not, I repeat, do not, have to know everything.
- You realize how much time you have to do work. All of a sudden, you’re waking up, making breakfast, plopping at your desk and WIZZING through assignments. What do you know? It’s 3pm and you’ve finished everything you set out to do.
- People exist! Without my distractions, I was forced to *gasp* interact with humans! I’d forgotten how nice it is to give someone my undivided attention. Hey you, I see you now. You exist!
- Not everything needs to be seen or made known. Because no one really cares anyway. Don’t let that like or view fool you.
Now, did I miss not posting that snapchat of me making a sweet potato and black bean burrito on Snapchat? Sure. But now that I’ve gotten the pressing things off my to do list, I can make it again for them to see. And with any fast that I take, the goal is always to do LESS, not to go back to old habits. You’ll soon realize how unimportant the constant updating and checking really is.
If you can, go on a social media break, do it cold turkey. Just RIP the bandage off. For five days. I know you can do it and I promise your “haters” will still be there, anxiously awaiting your return. Come back here and let me know how you survived.