Stop right there. Have you read part 1?!
In January, I decided to take at least 3 months off of Facebook. The Surviving R. Kelly documentary commentary had become too much, and I had weight loss and money goals to focus on. I still used Snapchat, IG and Twitter. 3 months became over 5. In July, I decided to take 30 days off of ALL social media. These are my reflections on my digital breaks.
I still had my phone (tablet and laptop) in my face constantly.
Even though I deleted all the apps from my phone, I could not break the habit of having my phone or some device attached to me. I can’t leave the room with out my phone. I found myself trying to figure out how to do stuff with my phone in my hand. Like, hey dumbass put your phone down and you can get these groceries in the car!
Also YouTube and ToonBlast (don’t judge me!) still monopolized plenty of my time, if not more since I couldn’t scroll through FB and IG.
My attention span has suffered.
Another book I started reading is “The Shallows: What the Internet Has Done to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr. Apparently, the internet is altering the way our brains work, yall.
“..what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a jet ski.”
When I was a (younger) kid, I could sit and read a book or do a puzzle for hours and they are activities I still in joy. I just can’t concentrate long enough to do them. I had no idea the internet was part of the reason I struggle to pay attention. Here I was thinking I was just an uninterested asshole.
Without social media, I realized how hard it was for me to focus on one thing at a time. Gardening has definitely helped whip my attention span into shape. Pruning and watering are one-thing-at-a-time activities that are now a part of my daily routine. It’s an uphill journey though, I have a half-done puzzle that’s been sitting for months, also a poster and a few coloring books that still need my attention.
I wasn’t magically more productive.
Abstaining from social media alone did not make me go to the gym, stop me from stress eating, keep me from neglecting my garden or anything. I had to make a conscious decision to be more disciplined and idle time made me realize that.
I missed out on some things.
I missed my cousins wedding, the launch of my homegirl’s podcast, my friend getting engaged, one of my favorite band’s concerts and I’m sure plenty more. I quickly realized it was worth it, and since everything’s on social media, I may miss out on seeing things live but I don’t miss out completely.
Friendships, the connections and disconnections.
Sometimes, you don’t know who is stressing you out until you aren’t around them anymore! Plenty of people’s absence is a relief. There are people and social circles I knew I’d be alienated from if I wasn’t on social media. That definitely happened.
What also happened is that my true friends adjusted accordingly. On one of the first days of my fast, one friend texted me and was like, “I still need updates on the garden. Make me your social media.”
This was certainly an unintentional friendship purge and revival. I grew closer and hung out more with my local friends (I felt a bit disconnected cause I moved back to Lexington a couple years ago from being in Louisville for 7 years). Connections hit different when they are established and sustained off of a screen. Conversations are deeper and laughter is louder. I know and appreciate details about my friends that I wouldn’t have if I had a screen in my face while we were kicking it.
I took less pictures.
I almost stop taking pictures completely. Before, I only took pictures for Snapchat and Instagram. I realized one day, that I was missing out on recording the progress of my plants and my weight loss. I also realized that I still wanted to document these happenings even if I wasn’t going to share them.
Silence isn’t as loud.
Before, silence literally made me anxious. The TV or music always had to be on. I find myself appreciating silence more. I initially turned on music to write this but opted for silence instead. Me? sitting in silence for 2 hours? Unheard of.
I had enough mental space to put things into perspective.
I was struggling with what exactly it was I was supposed to be doing with my life. What is my calling? How do I put it into action? How do I pay the bills with it?
With time to reflect, plan, and most importantly pray, I don’t feel as lost. Granted, I haven’t figured it out completely. There is a LOT I want to do and if I’m going to accomplish it, I can’t be preoccupied with showing off on social media. I only have so much time, space and energy and I don’t want to waste it on fronting for people who are also fronting. During my time away from the noise, I was able to set some clear goals and start planning.
The social media fasts benefited me greatly. I still have LOTS of work to do though. I’ve only been back on social media for a couple of weeks, but I find myself having less of a desire to be constantly connected and am using it more intentionally which is what we’ll discuss in Part 3.
Have you ever taken a social media break? What did you learn?
Thanks so much for your support.
For updates on my garden, follow me on IG at @Carriekeeppushn and like my FB page: CarrieAmanda.