July 20th isn’t just the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing (although that is a very momentous occasion!). For me, it also marks the end of a self-imposed, month-long break from social media.
Now, I say this with a caveat: I did get on Twitter a week or so ago when Tropical Storm/Hurricane Barry advanced on my state. Why? Because I needed some very helpful and important information from our local meteorologists. I also hopped onto Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share the links for my latest blog posts. But once I’d done that, I always hopped back off immediately. I didn’t want to wobble away from my resolve to avoid all the shiny, distracting posts and threads.
When I decided to set this challenge for myself back in June, I was exhausted. Between getting rid of both my Pinterest and Tumblr accounts for both personal and moral reasons, and then realizing that I had almost been taken in by an insidious, politically-driven agenda currently attacking the Church, I was done. I needed mental space. I needed to pray and read and think, and I needed the freedom to stick my phone somewhere and then (oh, blessed possibility!) forget where I’d put it.
A month later, I’ve learned a lot about myself and accomplished a great deal! I feel lighter, my brain isn’t frayed or scrambled– and yes, more than once I forgot where my phone was.
Here are a few of the things I’ve discovered about myself and my social media habits:
- I missed Instagram the most, which surprised me at first because I never spent too much time there in the first place. But Instagram is where most of my real-life family and friends share their latest adventures and family photos. Whenever my mom or sisters would ask me something along the lines of, “Oh my goodness, did you see that adorable picture of So-and-So,” I felt like I was missing out on a very real part of our community’s life. Instagram, therefore, has greater value for me than I ever realized.
- I did not miss Facebook at all.
- Much to my surprise, I didn’t miss Twitter much, either–probably because much of my frustration actually stemmed from Twitter. I DID miss my writer friends (Nichole, Shay, Schuyler, and Evie, I’ve missed talking to you!!), and thankfully I was able to chat with a few of them through texting/blogging. But it was so nice being able to avoid the vicious snark between opposing political/theological camps, or the melodramatics of this or that fan faction/denomination/writing preference/etc.
- I DID miss Twitter when I needed emergency information, which reinforced my growing suspicion that when I got back to Twitter, I’d start thinking of it more as a tool than a fun website.
- I accomplished great things without my phone to distract me! I only have nine chapters left of Lionhearted, I successfully outlined the entirety of my next novel and started the first chapter, I finished reading three books, and started G.K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man.
So, where do I go from here? Now that my month of fasting is over, how do I prevent the burn-out I experienced back in June?
- I’m still limiting my time on social media. Now that I’ve learned to live well and happily without it, hopefully it’ll be easy to stick to my new time restrictions.
- I’m not putting the Twitter app back on my phone; that would be too tempting (in a way that Instagram, surprisingly, is not)! If I need to get emergency information, I’ll just pull up my local news station’s account on Safari.
- I’ve unfollowed and unliked a boatload of stuff. If an account sets my teeth on edge, it goes out the window. I don’t care if it’s political, Christianese, fan-based, or writing-themed. If it’s making me angry or anxious, I’m sayin’ “hasta la vista, baby.”
- NOTE: this doesn’t mean I’m opposed to challenging viewpoints! However, most of the controversies and confrontations on the internet aren’t healthy, let alone respectfully handled, and therefore they are detrimental to my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Also: if I’ve thoroughly researched and decided on a course of action (such as a publishing method or my personal writing style) and I’m following one account that belittles that course of action, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
- When I do post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, I’m going to try to be very deliberate about what I post. I noticed the first couple of weeks without Twitter, I’d often have something pop into my head that I found rather clever, and then think, “I should post that on Twitter!” Basically, I was so enamored of my own perceived cleverness, I wanted to share it with the world. Don’t worry, I’m quite aware of how disgusting that sounds! Wouldn’t it be so much better for everyone if I only shared things that would edify and encourage my audience? That doesn’t mean I post only serious things, of course–but it does mean I think before I click “send tweet,” and that I share things that’ll help others prosper…even if that just means they get a good, healthy laugh.
In conclusion, I strongly encourage my readers to take a break from social media at some point. I’ve been able to step back and evaluate so many things in my own life–my attitudes, beliefs, and habits–without the constant chattering of the internet in the back of my mind. Even if you only take a week’s hiatus, I have no doubt it would make a difference.
And who knows? You might find your creativity goes through the roof!
14 thoughts on “Reflections on a Month-Long Social Media Hiatus”
What was the political agenda you almost were taken in by? If it’s private, then just forget my comment! 😊 I agreed with everything you said.
Well, let’s just say it’s a very controversial social issue. The denomination my church is part of is currently debating over a specific movement within the larger issue, to the point where it was one of the big topics at the denomination’s annual assembly a few weeks ago. I had been confused about the aims of that specific movement–I actually thought they might have a point in their favor–until I realized what they were really fighting for. Then I was just really frustrated and needed to go hide in my hobbit hole, haha.
I’m so glad your hiatus has proven so beneficial!! (Though I must admit, I’ve missed seeing your tweets in my timeline for the past month — most of what comes through my feed is nonsense, but your account is one of the few exceptions to that 😄).
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I could improve the ways I spend my time online, especially with a new school year fast approaching…
The reason I have Twitter at all is to keep up with stuff specifically for The Elven Padawan, but since that project is on hold for now, I’m trying to re-evaluate how I use it. Much as I enjoy the format, that site can easily become a breeding ground for all sorts of ridiculous arguments that I want no part in. 😕
On the other hand, I’ve worked hard to tailor my Insta to my personal needs and tastes, and I so love that I can scroll through my feed there and find so much encouragement and inspiration. I think it’s been really helpful to my artwork to be able to consistently consume the work of others who I admire and aspire to emulate. 😊 (However it has also caused my jealousy towards everyone who went to Realm Makers this year to grow exponentially… but I’ve yet to decide if it’s the unhealthy sort of jealousy, or the kind that inspires me to work harder towards getting to attend someday. 😂)
LikeLiked by 1 person
I was so excited to see this comment, Shay! I have missed you and your tweets, too. I’m gonna have to catch up on all my friends’ doings over the past four weeks!
This is a great time of year to re-evaluate our habits and routines, isn’t it? I completely relate to what you said about loving Twitter’s format, yet becoming increasingly aware of how it can breed so much needless controversy. I even unfollowed some Doctor Who accounts today simply because I refuse to deal anymore with all the petty arguing over which Doctor is better and whether Clara or Donna was the better companion blah blah blah ad nauseam.
I loved what you said about Instagram providing so much inspiration and encouragement, though! That’s absolutely wonderful. And see, THAT is one of the lovely advantages of social media! I’m so grateful for all the connections, inspiration, and resources I’ve discovered on the internet.
I’m gonna really show off my ignorance here, but…what is Realm Makers?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Ah, sorry I’ve taken so long to respond to this!! Things have been extrememly crazy for my family lately, so I’m only just now getting to spend some time on my laptop, catching up on blog-related things.
Actually, if I didn’t snoop in the Christian spec-fic writing community so much, I wouldn’t know what Realm Makers was myself, so please don’t feel ignorant!
It’s essentially a writers’ conference for those whose passion is speculative fiction, but it’s also very faith-friendly – they put an emphasis on helping spec-fic writers learn to write imaginative stories while still keeping their faith in mind.
I’ve wanted to attend ever since I first heard about it. It just looks like the most fantastic, informative, fun environment, and everyone I know who has attended has given it very high praise. 😀
I totally agree, Maribeth! I’ve gotten some flak from friends for unfollowing accounts that bother me (as if I’m censoring my feed for viewpoints I dislike). However, I don’t want social media to be a place where I am tempted to be angry or start (or join) arguments. I turn to books and wise friends for challenging ideas, not the comments section. And if curating my social media feed yields more patience, grace, and peace in my life, that’s a good thing! I love the iPhone feature to set time limits for apps, too. It gives me the freedom to enjoy social media until it’s time to move on, and plan weekly fasting to help keep me sane.
Amen to all of this!!! I learned pretty quickly during (and after) the last presidential election that political arguments on the Internet are THE WORST, and I wouldn’t touch ’em anymore even with a ten foot pole 😛
My main problem is my boredom/lack of discipline/overall internet problem plus the disappearance of many good blogs. I’ve considered using siteblockers to stop compulsively checking websites. I’m so sick of the politization of everything, and I know Pinterest is censoring things, but I have a problem with people posting factual stuff on Pinterest that isn’t verified (misattributed quotes, questionable historical facts, etc.). Pinterest is NOT the place for that. I don’t use it nor do I think it is responsible to use it for that, so I’m not super fussed about their censorship at the moment. And actually, I agree with the censoring of the anti-vax conspiracy theory stuff. I am however bothered when YouTube censors, YouTube is a place expressing for opinions, lectures, etc. And I’m just sick of politics exploding into my face when I’m happily looking at crafts, flowers, etc. Really? When does invading people’s peace ever change someone’s mind.
I keep saying I’m done with politics (it’s invaded Ravelry, a knitting pattern website, I mean REALLY?!!!!), but I know I’m not. I am however, unfollowing everyone who posts something about it (usually abortion or something slanderous). I can’t stand when people think that following those with opposing view is good, no, sorry, reading random opinions is NOT the same as actively researching facts and genuine arguments. Which is want I want to do (especially during what I imagine will be a traumatizing year next year). . . eventually, list all arguments for and against major points, but I did start and it made me SO mad. I don’t follow art accounts for politics, would you take medical advice from randoms rather than one’s doctor or the CDC (unfortunately, some people do)?!!
Sorry, this was all over the place.
I certainly understand your frustration! I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do come 2020. If the upcoming election is anything like the last one, I may just stay off Facebook altogether and be even more ruthless with my Twitter feed. If I weren’t about to publish a novel, I might even delete my Facebook account. But I feel like it may still be a useful tool in the long run, so until I find out otherwise, I figure I’d better keep it.
How are you and your family after the hurricane?
Thank you so much for asking! We did great. Praise God, our area didn’t get nearly the rain the weathermen had expected (up to 20 inches, YIKES). We ended up only getting about 3 inches! 😀
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yay! Thank God! 😄
Liked your comments on social media. It affects you. I stayed off FB for a week a few years ago and was amazed how much more i got done.It is the only way to keep in contact with family and friends now easily. I have reconnected with friends from HS I have not seen in over 40 years. I no longer talk politics on FB except for maybe one post a month. Without knowing it you get dragged into this online arguments. So I post informative stuff, happy stuff now.
Twitter is a different story. I think it is more insidious than FB .Their is a level of hatred and animosity on there that amazes me. I make up lists so I can go to them and bypass a lot of it. gives me more control. If something comes in my feed I don’t want I block whom ever sent it.
Can’t speak to Instgram as I have never used it.
My wife is much better than me, when she comes in from work she puts her phone up and does not look at until the morning, FB and Pinterest are all she has. I have Pinterest but hardly use it anymore.. I try to encourage people to call our landline in the evenings, but a lot still call our cells.
In closing what we speak see and think becomes us. You have to guard your heart because even the small things can become big. Good luck on your writing!
Thank you so much for commenting, Mr. Kevin! I always love getting your perspective on things. You’re so right, Facebook is excellent for connecting with people you haven’t seen in a long time. That’s one of the reasons I won’t delete my account; even though most of my posts are actually Instagram posts I’ve connected to my Facebook, I know there are friends who don’t have Instagram who enjoy keeping up with my blog, my family, etc. Political discussions get a strict “no” from me, too.
I wonder if maybe Twitter can get so vicious because there’s that 280-character limit: people can’t write logical, thought-out arguments as well, so they just come up with lots of inflammatory one-liners. I’m certainly going to be very careful with my feed moving forward.
Thank you so much for what you said about how what we speak, see, and think becomes a part of us. It reminds me of what Jesus says in Luke 6:45: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”