I’ve sat down in a restaurant and I look over and see two people staring at their phones instead of looking at one another. I always think to myself, “wow, they can’t put their phones down for 5 whole minutes.” I then look away with disgust and pick up my own phone and scroll through Instagram or Facebook. I’m a critic of something I find myself doing constantly. So I took a social media hiatus… I am nearing the end of week three.
A break from social media has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I’m not on instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat. My blog is connected to Facebook (so it appears I’m still on) and I have Facebook messenger because my brother is deployed and it’s our only form of communication. So you might say I’ve ended my relationship with MOST of social media. At first, it was really challenging. I almost felt a sense of loss and contemplated what to do with all my free time. I actually had to pay attention at stoplights and look at the road while I drive (I know phones and driving are bad but we all do it). I had to make real conversation with people that didn’t begin with “did you see what BillyBob wrote on Facebook” or “did you see what Helen Keller tagged George Washington in?” I had to think of my very own topics and use my intellect instead of the gossip I read about (sigh).
At the start of week two I noticed that I was reading more, using my phone less–my battery actually lasted a whole day–my marriage communication seemed to really improve, and I wasn’t constantly holding something in my hands. I made a New Years resolution to gossip less and I think ridding myself of a constant blast of people’s lives is getting me closer to that goal.
I’m not saying Social Media is bad or that I am giving it up forever, but I do think taking breaks is something I’ll have to consistently do. I’m the type of person who will compare my life, my body, my marriage, etc with the snippets of others’ lives that are portrayed so perfectly online. Rational Erica knows there is more to my friends and family than the picture they posted, but crazy Erica strives to be more like that perfection. I also think I’m becoming more empathetic and compassionate. I don’t immediately assume something just from one post or photo. I have to make an effort to reach out to my friends and family and ask them what is going on in their life. I don’t just look on Facebook and assume everything is going great. I find myself with a lot more free time and at first I was kind of bored because all the other free time went into staring at the screen. But then I started being active and doing those things I kept saying “I don’t have time for.”
My husband is not a social media person, he has Snapchat, but that is it. When he comes home from work, I get excited to see him and ask him about his day. I listen actively and not half-heartedly like before. I don’t have a phone in one hand and pretend to be engaged by looking up every now and again. I literally listen without being distracted. This has been AMAZING for my marriage. I hear my husband when he compliments me and I believe him because I’m looking at him when he says it. I can hold his hand in the car because I don’t have a phone in my hand. At night (he always falls asleep first) I can snuggle him and say our good nights without worrying about what is happening on my phone. I feel like our communication has improved tremendously and all because I had an obsession with social media I was missing out on so much.
I tend to take a lot of photos and put them online. I LOVE photos. But I’ve found myself taking more photos of everyday life and not trying to retake it a million times to get the ‘best’ one for social media. Instead I laugh at the blur in the photo or the fact half the people have their eyes closed. I take photos of my nanny kiddos while they’re doing the most ridiculous and hilarious things and I don’t obsess over if they’re smiling or not. Life isn’t about perfection and our memories aren’t filled with only picture perfect smiles and laughs. Our memories are sad, beautiful, imperfect, filled with pain, love, joy, and all the emotions in between. And I am learning that although social media is a great tool and resource to stay in touch and post our favorite things, I cannot strive to fit the lives of the people I follow on there. They have sad memories too and that’s what makes us all human.
I am not saying farewell to social media, but I am saying goodbye for now. I am just one of those people who needs a reminder of the reality of life through lenses that aren’t half discolored. Please don’t assume I am saying social media is bad and you all suck for using it. I am not. It is a wonderful thing, but for me it became a little less wonderful and caused me to stumble a lot more than I need.