I’m doing something a little different for the month of November, and possibly even into December. (I have something else planned for December as well, but you’ll have to hear about that later. Can you handle the suspense?) I’d like you to consider joining me in this endevaor as well.
I’m taking a social media sabbatical. A hiatus. A black out. A break. Whatever you want to call it, I’m detoxing from social media in November.
Before you erroneously think that I’m brave enough to completely cut off all contact with the online world, let me elaborate on exactly what I’ll be doing.
First of all, I will continue posting basically as normal across all my social media. You’ll still see me on my facebook pages and my instagram. You’ll hopefully see me on youtube as well if I can ever get these videos edited. I’ll still be consuming content mostly as usual on instagram and youtube as well, though I do plan to cut it back at least a little.
The main change is that I’m going to be ditching my personal facebook for a while. No, this doesn’t affect any of you who may follow my posts and such, but I wanted to elaborate on this because I believe a similar detox could help many of you as well. There are two main reasons I’m ditching ye olde faacebook for a time, and here’s why:
For whatever reason, facebook seems to attract negativity like moths to a flame. (And this being an election year, it’s naturally even worse than usual.) I frequently have to hide or even unfriend people on my personal facebook simply because they post too much negative or political posts. . . constantly. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t delete all my friends every time they post something political. I would have no friends left if I did that. However, there’s a point at which it becomes excessive.
I view my online presence as an extension of myself. That’s essentially what it is, right? And if my presence is an extension of myself, then my social media is an extension of my home. Access to my home is not a right, it’s a privilege. That includes my online home on the web, too. If someone were in my home spewing nothing but negativity, aggressive arguments, or politics, I would politely show them the door. The same applies online. Everyone has a right to post whatever they want in their online home, and I have a right to leave their home and remove them from mine if I want.
Here’s the thing about constant negatively. It isn’t just annoying. Constantly consuming negatively also impacts your mood and your mindset. You can’t have a positive life with a negative mind.
Another way I think of it is this: In “real life,” and before the days of social media, there was a time and a place where people discussed things like politics, how awful their day was, their sick family member, or whatever other negative thing. Typically this would be between friends who respect and trust each other. Not every person you came in contact with would immediately share these very personal, often dark, types of thoughts and opinions.
Can you imagine if every time you walked down the sidewalk each person you passed yelled out something like, “VOTE FOR JOHN SMITH!” or “MY MOM IS DYING OF CANCER!” or “I HATE JILL! SHE’S A LYING HAG!”?? How insane and overwhelming would that be? Yet this is what happens online, and we find ourselves constantly scrolling through the chaos taking it all in.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t take the weight of the world on my shoulders. I have enough trouble carrying my own weight. I come online to be entertained, to learn, to get updated on people’s lives, and to have a sense of community. I want the internet to continue to be a happy, fun place for me. I have enough stress in my day to day life to not allow something as silly as facebook add to that stress.
It’s a Time Suck
Please tell me I’m not alone in this. How is it that “checking my notifications” becomes scrolling through my newsfeed for a length of time I’m too embarrassed to admit? Why is it so hard to ignore that little notification ding, even if I’m elbows deep in another task? And why, for the love of Pete, is it so hard to sit through an entire movie, TV show, or dinner out with the family without looking at my phone?
We get addicted to our social media. I don’t know why — maybe someone smarter than I has a viable theory — but we do. And it’s undeniably unhealthy. Too much of anything is not good.
I no longer want my cellphone to be the first thing I see in the morning and the last I see at night. (I may even buy an alarm clock.) I no longer want to waste so much valuable time on something so unproductive. I’m tired of constantly being distracted from legitimate computer work, because I get a facebook ding and go scroll through all the new posts after checking it. I don’t want to be a slave to technology.
I think it’s good to take a step back and detox from social media now and then. I’ve done it before, albeit on a smaller scale, and it’s such a refreshing feeling. Suddenly your time is freed up to be productive, to watch a good movie undistracted, or to read an actual paper book. I think this time of year is a particularly good time to step away, because we’re in the season where gratitude, family, tradition, and rest should reign. Fall and winter are a time to follow the natural pattern of the seasons, to slow down, and to reflect. With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner and the weather cooling off, we’re spending more time indoors, more time cooking, more time being grateful, more time being generous, and more time thinking of others. We should also spend less time on mindless scrolling and more time on being mindful.
If you want to join me in this techno-detox, here are the few simple steps I’m taking:
- I’m removing the facebook app from my phone, but leaving messenger. That way I can still use messenger to communicate, but I won’t be getting constant notifications from facebook — and I won’t be able to scroll.
- No personal facebook scrolling. I will check notifications once daily for anything important — sometimes I get tagged in work related things, or important posts from friends — but after viewing notifications, I’m outtie. For real.
- I’m limiting overall social media time. I’ll still post a time or two a day as usual, particularly on instagram (my favorite “happy place” online), but I will not spend as much time scrolling through.
- I’m limiting content consumption to the hours prior to sunset. Once it goes dark outside, the only screen usage allowed will be for productive uses or watching a movie on Netflix. This does not include watching a TV series on Netflix or videos on youtube, because those shorter things tend to draw me into the “just one more episode” trap that results in staying up too late and wasting too much time.
I can’t make any promises about how long I’ll stick to this. I have a separate challenge for myself lined up for December which I’ll reveal later, but I don’t know if I’ll continue this through that time. I may not even continue following the rules strictly for the entire month of November, but as of now I plan to. I just want a detox, guys. If it were feasible for me to go spend a few weeks in a totally off-grid cabin in the middle of the woods, I would totally do it. But this is the best I can do for now.
What do you think? Is it worth it to do a social media detox? Will you join me on this adventure?