I took a month-long fast from social media. Not intentionally at first — no planned experiment or conscious effort. It was the holidays, and I wanted to be present with family. I didn't feel the need to check in with the rest of the world.
Having a baby has placed a new priority on family time — much more than I had envisioned. After a few days, I deleted Facebook and Instagram from my phone to avoid aimlessly checking in and scrolling. Strangely enough, I never found the urge to download them again. Even now, they still aren’t on my phone (instead I use some Mac app alternatives - much more of an effort to use this way that I’m often not inclined to deal with it).
After a little over a month, I realized disconnecting created room for me:
I made more time for writing and journaling
I reassessed my life goals and priorities
I spent more time with my family
I reconnected with friends (yeah ironic, right)
I saw how much work was consuming my life and how little time I was investing in myself
I got back to reading
It wasn't a direct correlation to time saved that provided room for these opportunities. Even prior to this experience, I didn't spend that much time on social media. A few hours here and there. However, I think when my life is on display, I sometimes live to document rather than to experience. I care more about what something looks like than how I feel about it. When I go through a day without thinking of what I will share, I can pursue the things I want. Away from a public eye, I could also start to be honest with myself - my regrets, resentments, anger, and failures. And I didn't have to turn on a smile or post a witty comment when I wasn't in the mood.
I did miss feeling connected to those in my social sphere. However, when I thought about the reality of the situation, these networks weren't places I was connecting. I tend to consume online drama. It's what populates feeds because it sparks the most responses and shares. What I want to hear about are the life updates, milestones, progress, and wellbeing of those I care about. And as much as these networks promote the idea of togetherness as a reason to stay connected, the experience doesn’t reflect it. And the phone, a coffee meeting, or an email served as a more effective alternative.
Coming back to social media, I want to be conscious of how I'm engaging. I want to consume content on my terms and not the business’. I’ll proactively search people I want to connect with or reach out to. I won't be posting more than once a week, and it won't be polished — my life isn't. I want to be real. I have frustrations, disappointments, and let downs outside of the highs in life. I have times I don't want to get up and work, even though I love my calling. And when I fail to let reality shine, I feel less connected to the world and myself. As if everyone is doing better and can't be bothered to hear about my worries. But what is humanity if we eliminate aspects of our human experience because they don’t read well on camera.