As much as I love walking in the rain, after doing it for a few days in a row, I’ve had enough. Fickle? Perhaps, but rain, no matter how protective one’s outerwear, always finds its way to skin. And when a winter’s day rain finds skin, expect to be chilled to the bone in short order. It doesn’t mean I’ll give up walks in the rain. It just means I’ll take more warm baths afterwards.
When I wrote a few weeks back that I was leaving social media, I had a feeling it would be a slow process; that I had a lot of observing-of-self to do before I could cut ties completely, if indeed, that was meant to happen. To date, I have not abstained totally. My experiment wasn’t like a Dry January, thing. Rather, it was more academic. I wanted to consider aspects of my reactions when using social media. I wanted to become more aware of patterns and responses to posts, ads, comments, etc. I planned to ask myself questions, like: How did engaging in that post make me feel? Why was I engaged in the first place if it caused bad feelings? There were other questions, too, but I’m sure you get the gist.
Like all deliberate timeouts, they are more than mere respites. They can reveal nuances in behaviour – some surprising, others not surprising at all. One ah-ha moment came for me when I realised the learning curve was steeper than I imagined it would be.
Anywho, below is partial list of – ahem – revelations and random thoughts:
- There are apps for phones and PCs that chart screen time so you don’t have to. I downloaded them. After figuring out how to work them, I set them to do their job and waited for a day.
- NOTE: If you do the above, before you check results, make sure voice command is programmed on your phone. You’ll need emergency services to save you from the heart attack you’ll be on the brink of when you see how much time you actually spent doing f**k all on stupid social media.
- I highly recommend NOT downloading time recording apps.
- I figured out how best to pat myself on the back for averting a tragedy, though. It’s a worthwhile and rewarding thing to learn.
Self-care is important for many reasons. Prioritising much needed exercise is key to healthier interactions with social media.
- Drink lots of fluids. They will make you pee. Peeing is a distraction from whatever screen you’re on. Walking to the toilet is exercise.
- On disagreeable days, switch the water for wine and tell yourself you’re celebrating a wedding at Canaan with Jesus. That’ll get old fast. But seriously, drinking wine has a couple things going for it. A) You’ll have to pee a tad more, and if you get up to pour each glass that’s double the exercise. Bonus. (Doesn’t count for me cuz I just slurp from the bottle.) B) It won’t take too many slurps before you don’t care about social media anymore. WARNING: That detachment is temporary if you keep drinking. With more alcohol, your increasingly booze addled brain will soon convince you it’s fine to sneak back online where you will post what you believe to be a stunning picture of your pout. As long as your clothes are on, you might get away with it. Rest assured, you’ll wake up with anxiety. Don’t worry too much. You can yell at your phone to call 911.
- For times like these, there is a little used delete function. People should learn to use it generously – not just for the morning after. Trust me, after a day or two your humiliation will fade. When it does, vow to stick to water and the odd kombucha. Failing the latter, buy a safe and put your phone and computer in it before you take your next drink. No way you’ll remember the code to open it when you’re drunk so it’ll be fine.
When reading on social media, you might end up clicking on the occasional YouTube link. Remember, it is a video sharing platform owned by Google. Not every post is worthwhile, let alone based in science, reality, or sanity. That written, learning new things is important. So…
- While peeing, because you’re doing that a lot more, read the toothpaste container, or shampoo bottle. Better yet, leave a dictionary or thesaurus in the bathroom. It’s a “feeding two birds with one scone” situation.
- When you next pick up your phone, instead of checking into Facebook, force yourself to read through your contacts’ list. You’ll be amazed who you don’t even know so can delete without fear of reprisals.
- Likewise, open your email and go nuts. Clearing that mess can take days!
- When you do succumb and go for a scroll, pat yourself on the back every time you ignore even a whiff of drama on someone’s post. Drama is always, always, always, someone else’s shit. You turn it into your shit, however, as soon as you engage. And NO, you are NOT caring, being kind, supportive, etc. You’re an enabler. Full stop. If you don’t know exactly what an enabler is, google it from a reliable source.
- On those days when you simply can’t manage to put down a device, force yourself to get outside for a walk. Breathe deeply. Be aware that you are breathing deeply. Be amazed! Eventually, your hand might let go of the smartphone in your pocket.
- Pat yourself on the back when you gently ignore or push aside the idea that you’re missing something on a social media account. Remember, most of the stuff there is like a soap opera. Very easy to catch up on even days later.
- Keep patting yourself on the back. It might be the only human touch you’ve had in many, many, months. (Over a year for me.)
- If the back patting feels good, give yourself a big ole squeeze. Hugs are nice no matter who is doing the hugging. Also, you cannot be on a device while hugging yourself. I’ve tried. Can’t be done.
- Make lists to remind yourself of stuff you want to do each day even though lists are a pain in the arse.
- Why is “arse” acceptable when “ass” isn’t? The original word isn’t jackarse. Geesh.
- Sorry, I digressed.
- Remember, “social media’s not the problem, we are.”
- What the actual f**k does that mean? SM wouldn’t exist without us so of course we’re the problem!! For the love of god!
- Oops, digressed again.
- I have learned that reading an actual book or watching a movie, has staying power. Affirmation style memes have their place, but whole ideas are not always captured in one sentence.
- I’ve found I really am happier working on myself, being accountable fully to what needs doing in my life, than wandering about in others’ lives.
- Alas, people I’ve never met, spoken with, or shared time with off social media, are not my besties.
- Social media is a tremendous invention. It is an extraordinarily effective linking tool and can be great fun and very helpful when used wisely and most especially, sparingly.
My wish today is that you step away from distractions and make time to look deep within. No matter what you find there – no matter if it is light and easy or dark and heavy – hug it warmly. Bring yourself back holding what feels good. Leave the rest behind.
For those struggling with social media addiction, I do not mean to make light of your difficulty or distress. If you need more strategic tips, check out Unplug for Freedom at AllToLove.com