I boldly declared that I was taking October off of social media. I did it on a whim, late at night on September 30th. But it felt right. In my gut, it felt right. And I’ve been learning to listen to my gut instead of questioning it.
And so I went merrily on my way.
I realized how much of my time I automatically reached for my phone to check Facebook or Twitter. Like, every spare second. And some seconds that weren’t exactly spare.
All of a sudden, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had these blank chunks of time. And it was really, really hard not to pop on and just check…
But I held true to my word. And three things happened:
1) I started filling up my time with other meaningless shit. Solitaire and Bejeweled became big contenders. I watched a few more movies than I normally do (I usually watch one or two movies a month, maybe, and that’s it for TV time for me, so upping it to 3 or 4 movies was significant.) I did do some mediating and spend a little more time with my kids. But mostly, it just changed what trivial shit I was using to fill up the blank spots.
2) I realized that I use social media for business. A lot. I promote my band’s gigs so people know where to come and hear us. I promote The Studio school, and lessons and workshops I teach. That’s kind of important to me and my bottom line, yo. And it felt really incongruous and a little inauthentic to post about my business shit, but never engage with anyone who responded. Y’all know I’m all about being genuine. If I can’t feel authentic in something I’m doing, I’m not interested. That’s my gut cue that it’s time to walk away.
3) I began to feel very disconnected. From people. Not in a good way.
I made a very conscious decision a few years ago to stop watching the news. It makes me incredibly anxious to see all the bullshit going on in the world that I can do nothing about. And I have enough struggles with depression and anxiety without needlessly adding to the burden. So I made the choice to remove it from my life. My dad thinks I’m a fucking nutter for not being up to date with world events, but oh well. I can live with being a little more uninformed, and lot less stressed.
So I get most of my cues about world events – the really big ones – from social media. If something matters enough to me, I’ll google it once I’ve been tipped off by social media. That’s how I stay current. And sometimes if something is too horrifying (the Sandy Cook shootings, for instance), I will purposely NOT google it. And it works for me.
I also don’t cross paths with a lot of people on a day to day basis. I see my neighbours most days. But working from home, it’s just me and my students. (Obviously, when I sing, I see a lot of people…but that’s not on the daily.) And I like it that way. The introvert in me enjoys being a hermit most of the time.
I realized one very big, not-to-be-dismissed thing about social media: it is how I interact with many of my friends. Are they “real” friends? Hell ya they are, because I have very few people in my friends list who aren’t also real life, let’s-go-for-dinner kind of friends. But we all live such different lives, in different geographical spaces, and different stages of parenting, etc., I just can’t get to them all in person all the time.
Facebook is my playground. It is my water cooler. It’s my chit chat, my current events, and my daily dose of inspiration. I get to celebrate accomplishments in the lives of my friends, mourn losses with people I love, and extend myself in service of others.
I started to feel really depressed without my social media transactions. I struggle with Bipolar II, and this is the time of year I always have to watch myself for triggers and descending into that pit of depression that can lasts days, but usually lasts months…or years.
I watch those triggers really, really fucking closely. And when I found myself wanting to spend two days in bed, and feeling really, incredibly…meh? I looked hard at what was what in my life, and the biggest thing to change was my withdrawal from social media.
Here’s the funny thing. I didn’t want to come back on before my month was up, because I had loudly and boldly declared that “I was off social media for the month of October!” I didn’t want people to see it as a failure. (Fuck ‘em.) I didn’t want people to think I couldn’t stick with it. (Screw ‘em.) I didn’t want people to think was lazy. (Toss ‘em.)
Then I put it in much better perspective: the only person I should care about proving anything to is myself, and maybe my children. And the big lesson in this is that I realized that the best way to take care of myself was to go back on my word.
Be true to yourself, not to your word. Tweet it.
After little more than two weeks, I made the choice to go back onto social media. (And someone commented on it with the very first comment I made on someone else’s FB post. Clearly people really do pay attention. But I think for the right reasons, not to point out my “failures.”) I’m hoping to keep it in a little better perspective now though, and not feel the need to pick up my phone and check FB or Twitter every 5 seconds.
So I thought I’d talk about it, loud and proud. What happened. How I felt. Why I made the conscious choice not to follow through. And why the only opinion of myself that should matter is my own.
Have you doubled back on any decisions you’ve made? Was it the rightest thing for you in the moment? If love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.