I have a problem. I am a social media addict. I’ve been clean for over 21 days now. Honestly, and sadly, this has been one of the toughest months during my year of change. My social media problem is just that: a problem. This is a story about how I fell into the social media trap and how I’m slowly climbing out of the never-ending feeds, tweets, likes, posts, links, pictures, videos and shares.
I don’t remember exactly when I got a social media account. I remember signing up for Twitter when it was still pretty new. Facebook followed and I jumped on the Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr bandwagon in 2013. I’ve been using social media for at least 6 or 7 years. Although this may be changing over the next few months, I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.
Actively, I only use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I don’t know how many hours (yes, hours) I spend every week between all of my social media accounts, but I know it’s at least 10. Yes, I admit that I spend hours mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I read pointless “click-bait” articles and watch dumb, funny and cute videos. I follow or like pages that I don’t get much value from, follow friends that I don’t know or don’t talk to. I don’t usually interact with my feed by liking, commenting or favoriting posts. It’s just endless scrolling, reading, clicking, consuming.
I was tired. Tired of endless scrolling. Tired of being tired after using social media. Tired of the arguments, complaining, pointless posts, oversharing, dumb videos, etc. Social media turned me into a tired, dissatisfied person. Instead of living my life I was scrolling through snippets of other people’s lives. I was tired on social media, tired because of social media and tired of social media.
In a positive light, so this whole post doesn’t sound negative, social media has some good to it. I can stay connected with friends and family who live far away or who I don’t see very often. I find great articles, blog posts and other content that inspires my blog posts and helps me learn and grow as a person. I connect with others who share my interests. I get to see beautiful, funny, interesting pictures and videos.
Social media can be both positive and negative. It all depends on why we use it, how we use it, how often we use it and how much we let it affect our lives.
I suggest spending some time away from social media. I’ve spent the last 3 weeks without any social media and honestly it’s been great! There have been a few downsides, like wanting to look someone up, follow accounts, share great articles or post some photos and updates.
As I’ve unsubscribed from social media this month I’ve noticed that I am more present in daily life. I notice more things around me, I’m more aware of people, smells, conversations, sights, sounds, and the moment generally. I feel like my life this month has been less hazy or clouded by a little screen. I’ve spent more time with my wife, more time outside and more time reading and writing.
Unsubscribing from social media helped me realize a few things:
- I don’t need to be connected all the time or even every day.
- I check social media when I’m bored, tired, upset, stressed. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism.
- The urge to check took about 2-3 weeks to totally disappear. It’s a strong urge.
- Life still happens when I’m not online. Yup, life goes on, online and off, when social media is off.
- People actually tell you things. When they know you’re not on social media, they give you more updates in person.
- Events are much more fun and enjoyable. I used to share pictures and comments about every event I attended online. This month I went to a concert, had my anniversary, ran my first 5k, went camping several times, ate some great gelato, caught some fish, tried new recipes and more. I didn’t share any of it online. It was so much fun and I enjoyed it with the people I was with. I didn’t waste time posting online about it and it felt great. I lived without sharing about it.
That last point brings me to some questions. When was the last time you lived without sharing about it? Do you overshare online? Are you always checking social media? Do you have a constant fear of missing out? Do you spend too much time on social media?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s probably time to spend some time away from social media and unsubscribe for an hour, a day, a week, a month. Spend some time away and enjoy life without needing to share every detail online. Hopefully you’ll have some of these same experiences.
How do I plan on using social media after this month? I am working to make my social media use more intentional and less automatic and brainless. I’m going to follow only accounts that I care about and that I want updates from. On Facebook I’m going to unfollow and tailor my news feed so I see what I want to see first. I’m also going to limit my time each day. I’m going to write another post about this in a few days, so I won’t go too in-depth, but I’m going to schedule a “social media time” every day or every other day where I log on, post a few things, check notifications, interact (like, share, comment, etc.), read interesting stuff, and then leave. That will be the gist of my social media time, but more on that in a future post.
I hope my experiences have been useful and hopefully have inspired some to rethink their social media usage. Take my word for it; it’s totally worth it to unsubscribe for even just a short time.
Feel free to share any experiences (good or bad) that you’ve had with unsubscribing from social media (or times when you over-used or overshared) in the comments below.