On New Year’s Day, I found myself feeling out-of-sorts. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what the problem was, but there definitely was one. I was restless and apathetic. I was doing all the things that I normally do that bring me contentment, but nothing seemed to be working. My family could tell that something was wrong, and I was so frustrated to be staring a new year with such a poor attitude.
As I sat in my library scrolling through FaceBook, I came across a political post that made me angry, and I had the thought (for the hundredth time), I wonder what my life would be like if I cut out social media for a time? I’ve had this thought before, of course, but I also dismissed it immediately. After all, I get updates from my sons’ school primarily through their FaceBook page, many church announcements come through FaceBook as well. More than that, I rely on certain Christian author’s Instagram pages to fuel and challenge my faith. Leaving social media, for any length of time, has never felt like a legitimate option. Yet still, as I sat in my library on New Year’s Day, I started to think about my use of social media on that day. I started to wonder if it was possible that my poor mood could have been an indirect result of too much time spent on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram. A look at my phone that day revealed that I picked up my phone 63 times on New Year’s Day, and that I was on my phone 1hour and 57 minutes. I’m afraid to add my iPad time on top of that.
In 2019, I read a book called Digital Minimalism that explores our relationship with digital technology and how it impacts our lives. At the time I read that book, it was life-changing for me. Even then, I knew that I was spending too much time on my phone and iPad, and I wondered how it was actually impacting my life. As I sat in my library on New Year’s Day, I started to piece together some ways that social media was impacting my mood. Aside from the political post that angered me, I had also posted something to FaceBook myself earlier in the day, and I was checking my phone regularly to see who had engaged with my post. My insecurity was heightened when I felt like no one had read my book review. Also, during some FaceBook scrolling, I noticed a few friends who seemed to have a much better New Year’s Eve than I did, and that made me jealous. The feeling didn’t last long, but it was still there. When I thought about the day I realized that my social media consumption had produced insecurity, jealousy, and anger in me in the course of a single day.
As of this writing, it has been 14 days since I have logged on to a social media platform. In that short time frame, our nation’s capitol has been violently attacked, and our President has been impeached for a second time. Instead of looking to others to help me process my emotions about all of this, I’ve had to sit with them myself. Instead of filtering events through the voices of all of my social media friends, I’ve only heard from those in my innermost circle–who have my cell phone number, and are willing to text or call me. My circle feels like it has shrunk significantly, but it is so much more meaningful.
I’m not really sure how long I will stay off of social media. At this particular moment in time, it feels healthy. I’m not sure I want to see what is on my news feeds right now in a time of such deep political divide. Also, the margin in my day that this change has created is time I am filling with things more meaningful in my life…like writing this post, for example. I’m also aware that there are certain things that I am missing, and I’m still working out how I can still gain valuable content from certain people I follow without depending on their Instagram feed. I’m going to spend some time working these kinks out though because I think that what I find on the other side of social media may just be worth it.