(Note: This post is meant to be a loving kick in the pants, because I want the very best for you! 🙂 )
I feel many of you cringing just from reading the title. The very idea of deleting all your social media accounts makes you feel angry/scared/panicked and you want to throw things at me/hide/pull up all your accounts now just to make sure they are still there. I get it. I was just as addicted as you are. Yep, “addicted” is the word. No, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and such are not hobbies and, contrary to how it feels, you don’t NEED them.
If you’re still reading, color me impressed! I doubt there are many of you, beyond the ones planning to leave scathing comments. 😉 We’ve all heard the cliche, “The first step is admitting you have a problem.” Can you do it?? It took me a long time and a lot of missed moments in my girls’ lives before I was to that point. That’s right, I completely admit that I had a problem. I’m not judging, I’m sharing truth in love in the hopes of helping some of you lovely people pull away from the screens and reconnect with the loved ones you have right there with you.
I know all the excuses. And, yes, they are actually excuses. The biggest one is that we “have to” have a Facebook or Instagram account in order to “keep in touch” with family and friends. Hon, if you and your distant loved one are both able to access Facebook and/or Twitter, that means that you both have smart phones and/or email access. You can call or text or email. Really. Now for the hardest truth…
If they are not important enough for you to email, call or text them occasionally to “keep in touch” then they aren’t actually that important to you! And if you try to and they don’t put forth the same effort… sorry to break it to you, but you’re not at the tippy top of their priority list, either. And that’s okay! God has put real life people into your real life that you are meant to love, spend time with, chat with and live life with, without a screen between you.
Are you isolated and lonely? Those silly accounts and all the superficial, pointless updates, “likes” and followers are NOT going to fill that void. Ever. What you need are true friends that you can eat with, play with and spend time with and they really are out there. I know sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but if you are willing to put yourself out there and take the first step, you’ll be surprised at all the wonderful relationships you’ve been missing out on right in your own little neighborhood, church or whatnot.
These are things that I had to admit to myself quite awhile back. Being a blogger, I was convinced that I “had” to have all the social media and my blog wouldn’t survive without it. That’s another story, but I realized that my family is incomparably more important that any “hobby” or “income” and I closed my blog FB account (and later, my personal account). And my blog continued to prosper, as long as I was regularly writing. And my online store (which I have since had to close) thrived without the Instagram account. So, my excuses were proven to be just that.
I really do get it. It’s so very easy to rationalize the “need” for social media either in a personal or business capacity. But people have kept in touch with loved ones for thousands of years without social media. Companies (including mine) truly do best when word-of-mouth is what brings customers. Content worth reading on a blog will find its way without hours spent self-promoting. (And that’s exactly what it is: self-promotion.)
One day, I tried to imagine my life without social media. I couldn’t. So, I remembered back to a time before it became a part of my life. Do that now. What words would describe your life before you opened your first social media account? My words were peaceful, quiet, intentional, restful, productive, focused and, most importantly, connected. Connected to the real people in my life. My husband and children. My friends and family. My church group.
If your words were more like, “lonely, isolated, bored” then I repeat: Social media doesn’t fix any of that. It just distracts you from the problems in your life. Face them. Deal with them. Move beyond them and live a real life, not a virtual one. By the way, if boredom is your excuse, chose to do something that feeds your soul. Do something that makes you feel energized or rested. Social media leaves you feeling empty and tired and often annoyed and left out. Feed your soul. (More on that in another post!)
If this whole topic elicited strong emotions (especially defensiveness, anger or anxiety), you have a serious problem. Own it and deal with it. For your sake and the sake of all of your family and friends.
On to what happened in my life when I closed my social media account. I lived my life. And I continue to live my life. The world didn’t end, my closest family/friends kept in touch and, here’s the kicker, I learned some hard truth about people whom I had thought were my friends. Both on their side of the “effort” and on mine. We just weren’t important enough to each other to make the effort. And that’s okay! I wish them all the best. And I’ve made new friends.
Yes, I’ve made new friends and I am loving getting to know them! More importantly, my husband, girls and I have been spending so much more time talking, laughing and doing things together. We’re closer and I’m not missing important pieces of my girls’ childhoods. And it’s not only relationships that have changed.
I am so much more productive! Although I am working on detoxing from a heavy metal toxicity (and therefore have limited energy) I am keeping up with my housework and doing a TON of huge projects. I never go to bed with a pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen, the laundry ins’t nearly as difficult to maintain as it used to be and I’m cooking from scratch almost daily. If it weren’t for all the annoying winter viruses that we’ve been passing around our home this year, I know I would have been even more productive.
I actually have more energy. Not primarily physically, but mentally and emotionally. I’m not wasting my thoughts and emotions on the drama of social media nonsense. Not getting upset about insensitive comment, “unlikes” and being left out of things has left me able to put my energy into my family, friends, home and projects. With the strong connection between mental and physical health, over time, this has actually translated into physical energy.
I’m happier. Again, not having all that drama in my life is so freeing!! I hadn’t realized how depressing it always left me to scroll through my feed.
I am more intentional. Instead of defaulting to wasting my time, energy and emotions on social media, I am intentional about how I spend those resources. The first few weeks, I found myself regularly (I’m talking multiple times an hour!!) reaching for my phone so I could mindlessly scroll through my Instagram feed. Now, I reach for a sweet kiddo to snuggle, a good book to read, a cup of choffy to sip on while I chat with my husband or a fun project I’ve been meaning to get around to forever.
I am finally able to have a daily quiet time, again. If you’re “too busy” to spend some time alone every day with the God who made you and loves you, try keeping your phone and computer off limits until after lunch. (And read this post!)
In fact, if there is anything that’s really important to you that you just haven’t been able to make happen regularly, make it a prerequisite to screen time. No computer, phone, tv or other screens allowed until it’s done. What have you not been doing that you wish you could? Exercise? Healthy breakfast? A hobby? Put a sticky note of every screen in your house to remind yourself to do it before you turn on the screen! You may even find you don’t really want to pull up a screen once you’re “allowed” to- embrace that feeling and get back to a real life!
Is there any social media I still use? Not in a way that replaces real relationships. Here’s the deal. Pinterest is something I use often to facilitate my real life. I gather recipes that I actually cook. I find info on raising baby chicks, which are currently living in the brooder box I made in the coop. I find natural remedies for illness (which we’ve used a ton this winter!!) and I reference it all. the. time. But scrolling through my Pinterest feed? That’s something I only do if I’m stuck in bed sick or injured. It’s not for the purpose of “interacting” with people and forming virtual relationships. In fact, I only “follow” a whopping 30 or so people. For me, Pinterest is in the “research tool” category, rather than the “social media” category. If obsessing over followers or pins is a problem for you, then all the “social media” stuff above applies to Pinterest in your situation.
Will I ever go back to social media? No, I don’t expect to ever return to the artificial relationships and mindless time wasting of social media. Having escaped the superficiality of it all, I am thrilled to be back in reality with “in person” “real life” people. The brain fog-induced news feeds are no longer a draw. Just like when I quit drinking diet soda, I am now repulsed by the very thing I used to be addicted to and I am thrilled to be free.
I hope and pray that some of you will be inspired to take an honest look at your social media use and consider replacing it with something of substance and value. Like your family. I bet they’ve missed you. <3
For more inspiration to quit social media, read this!
If you are a Christian, I encourage you to read this post and ask yourself some hard questions about using social media.