I recently had breakfast with a wonderful woman in town who told me that she’s not on social media at all. No facebook page, no twitter account, nothing. When hearing this, my initial reaction surprised me. It was not shock, but envy.
I was envious of her freedom, or what seemed like freedom to me. No precious time wasted on mindless scrolling. No caring about what you were missing out on. No pressure to curate a beautiful feed that encapsulates a certain vibe. No bombardment of notifications. What a life!
And it was with that reaction that it hit me. My relationship with social media was getting way out of whack.
Now, I do love social media. I’ve always loved taking photos and capturing moments. Social media is a great outlet for those captured moments, a way to share them with the world. Before, they would just stay files on my hard drive or in boxes of photos.
And I love connecting with people all over the world and staying connected. Social media has made it so easy to stay in contact with family, friends met while traveling or at conferences, and can be a great way to meet new people that you can later connect with in person.
But like all things, it’s easy for it to get out of balance. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my relationship with social media, and if it’s still a healthy one. And with this post, I invite you to do the same.
After my out of whack revelation, I started paying closer attention to my social media habits. My day started and ended by checking social media. I would regularly interrupt my daily tasks to check social media, consciously and unconsciously.
On the days I checked social media more, I found myself more anxious and my brain felt cluttered. I felt like my time on social media was over-stressing my mind and therefore my body.
We can only handle so much stimulation in a day, and if I was checking social media on my down times, where was the space for restoration? To let my body and mind rest?
I also felt this unspoken obligation to share everything I did. Be it worth sharing or not. It’s like I started writing a journal entry and didn’t want to leave out any of the details.
And even though I do try to be intentional about my posts, the features on social media change to keep hooking you in. The algorithms change so you have to be more strategic if you want more views and likes and blah blah blah.
And this past week I just felt tired. Like I didn’t have the energy to post anything worthwhile. And with Instagram’s new snap story’s I found myself feeling tired by just opening up Instagram. It’s just become too much. Too. Much.
Anyone else feeling this way? I honestly hope that people are. Social media has been out of balance in people’s lives for a while now, but I hope it’s getting to a point where people are starting to notice how it is negatively affecting the way we function.
That it’s stressing us out more than providing some fun entertainment. That it’s keeping us from enjoying the present moment more than the fun of sharing that moment with the world.
I’m starting to believe that we weren’t built to be this connected. Have so many people to be aware of. To know that much about your life and to have you know this much about mine.
Because I’m starting to feel the effects of superficial over connective-ness in my body. In the way that I function. And I notice it with my clients and other people, too.
We don’t know how to fully relax, we have shorter attention spans, there’s been a huge increase in social anxiety, ironically, we get addicted to likes and being “in the know,” and we have body pain from sitting at a screen or looking down at a mobile device.
I know a lot of people go on social media sabbaticals. They schedule them into their lives or they are constantly switching from being on it and not being on it.
I personally don’t want to stop being on social media. It can be a lot of fun. I enjoy composing entries to go with photos from my life on Instagram. I like sharing dorky things on snapchat. I like seeing what the people in my life are up to. I don’t think it’s bad or evil.
But I do think it’s something that we all need to keep in check. Start noticing your own habits and the role it has in your life. Notice how it affects your body.
Does it take up too much time in your day? Who do you follow and are their posts lifting you up or are they fill your brain with garbage? Is their lifestyle inspiring you or making you feel inadequate?
Are you focusing too much on what is happening with the rest of the world instead of with those that are actually around you?
Why do you share what you share? Are you trying authentically connect? Are you sharing things of value? Or are you trying to prove something about yourself to the world? Push a belief onto someone? Are you creating barriers instead of connection with what you post? Are you satisfied with one or two social media outlets or are you trying to be everywhere all of the time?
I know this seems like it’s turning into a not-so-fun version of 20 Questions, but asking yourself all of these questions can be very valuable. So here are some more.
What really do you want to be filling your time with? What else could you accomplish with that time? What deeper connection could you be forming with someone in person or over the phone? What deeper connection could we be forming with ourselves? How much more could you enjoy an adventure or an event if you weren’t living it through a screen?
Next week I’m going to dig into some tips on make social media more manageable, but sit with this for now, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.