I’ve been keeping a daily journal on my phone which I’ll share at the end of the month, but I wanted to talk about one big takeaway so far.
Since October 1, I’ve been completely off social media websites. For those of you that know me or have been following IWearYourShirt for years, this is absolutely and utterly shocking (I know).
After 3 tweet-less, Instagram-deprived, and Facebook-free weeks something has become incredibly clear. It’s not my increased level of happiness (which is true). It’s not my sizable lower level of cynicism (which is also true). It’s that social media allows people to penetrate our personal bubbles and attack us with their insecurities, insufficiencies, etc.
What the heck does that mean?
Let me share a quick story that happened about a week ago:
My lovely better half Caroline was browsing Instagram. She noticed she had gotten a few new followers. She happened to click on one of her new followers and read the person’s bio to me. It read something like… “Marketing Maven, Social Media Guru Extraordinaire, Chief Gravity Defier, Greatest Dad Ever, Inventor of Chia Pets, President of Hamster Lovers Anonymous!”
Okay, so the person’s bio didn’t actually say all those things, but it did say some of them. After she read the bio, I could feel myself getting angry. This isn’t the type of person I would want in my life, and I know it’s not the type of person Caroline wants in her’s (not our “Rat People” as my friend Paul Jarvis says).
However, due to the fact that social media creates accessibility to complete strangers, people like this guy can weasel their way into our space and infiltrate our bubble’s with their nonsense. And yes, I totally get I’m overreacting just a bit to this guy’s bio, but it’s painfully obvious that he wants the world to know how important he thinks he is.
Life tip: If you’re important or great, you shouldn’t have to give yourself multiple made up titles to prove it.
Yes, I get tired of the political rants on Facebook. Yes, I get bummed when a really witty tweet of mine gets barely any interaction. Yes, I’ve openly admitted that I am addicted to social media and that I constantly refresh my feeds. And yes, I do get consumed with the amount of new followers, likes, comments, etc I get, as much as I’d like to pretend I don’t.
But the thing I’ve come to notice I dislike most about social media sites, is that people can bulldoze their way right into our lives and it’s hard to filter them out (and even when we do, another one can pop up).
For those of you who are old enough to remember a time before social media (and even the Internet), the only way complete strangers got in your personal space was two ways: Being door to door salesman or being telemarketers. I think everyone remembers how much we despised those people barging their way into our lives.
Seriously, take a moment to remember the anger you felt when the phone rang during dinner and it was some random dude in Albuquerque trying to sell you something you didn’t want or need.
Unfortunately, social media is overrun with door to door salesmen and telemarketers, they just come in multiple forms now. And also unfortunately, social media is the place we all go to vent our frustrations, negative customer service issues, and rants about life.
Of course there is another side to this coin. Without Facebook, I may never have reconnected with my long lost cousin from Aunt Gertude’s third marriage (good ole Aunt Gertude). I also wouldn’t have had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with many of you reading this post. And that’s why this was a 30-day detox and not a hard delete on all my social media accounts.
What will I be doing as far as social media is concerned after my detox is over? I’m not sure yet. I’ve had many conversations about this with friends. Conversations on Skype, text message, over email, and believe it or not – IN PERSON! Whoa! Mind blowing. I know.
What I do know: I feel great right now.
I feel an overwhelming sense of calm in my life. My iPhone has never been quieter, and that’s been equal parts weird and refreshing. The people who’ve wanted to reach out to me and see what I’m up to have done so. The social media door to door salesmen, telemarketers, mavens, gurus, etc, haven’t come close to being on my radar.
I have a lot more I’m going to share once my detox is over, and the first place I’ll be doing that will be on my email list and on this blog. Two “social networks” I’m in complete control of and want to put a lot more energy and value into.
You should try a social media detox too.
Try taking a break from social media websites for a week or weekend or 30 days. Delete the apps from your phone and turn off your email notifications during that time.
You can easily re-download your apps and turn your notifications back on. If you’re feeling a huge resistance to this idea, I think that means you need to do it that much more. We all lived happy and productive lives without social media 10 years ago. We can all go a few days or weeks without it.
Give it a shot and see how it goes. See how you feel. See if you get more done. See if you’re less distracted. And, take note of how much of an itch you feel to check social media (that itch is called addiction).
I hope I’ve made it clear how much better I’ve felt during this detox. Because it’s been one of the best things I’ve done for myself in quite some time.