First of all, let me begin by saying that it is perfectly OK to stay off social media for any given amount of time.
You won’t disconnect from the world.
You won’t forget your own name.
You won’t die.
For the average millennial, however, this might seem like an impossible task until you do it.
For the last two months (actually, almost three), I’ve literally been MIA from all of my social media accounts, including my facebook, instagram, linkedin, twitter and snapchat. I have a Google+ account (but I don’t really know how or why to use it,) and a Pinterest account as well, but I hardly use the last two.
What made me really go off social media for the first few months of 2017? Circumstance.
The reason that forced my hand: My favorite phone (with the camera I loved) broke. But I was already falling off the social media wagon due to other real circumstances:
Travelling with my family and things.
I moved recently; two times. I had to pack and unpack, only to pack and unpack again. And did I mention I live abroad? Yes, that means moving via AIRPLANE.
Fun in fantasy. A real pain in reality.
Keeping up with social media was a pain, mostly because I didn’t really have a plan for it in the first place. Being distracted with life had me taking steps back from everything that wasn’t necessary. But I needed that.
WHAT HAPPENED TO ME WHEN I STOPPED SIGNING ON EVERYDAY.
I had more time.
- The first thing I noticed when I stopped signing on everyday was that there was suddenly MORE TIME on my schedule. Looking back now, I can see how “5 minutes” of scrolling through my facebook feed actually took hours out of my week. And that was just facebook. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn (not as bad as the others) all had “5 minute” slots in my days that always took 40 minutes or more out of my day – per account.
Now, spending THAT much time on social media might be necessary if your job requires it. I could pretend that I was studying my social circles and doing market research. But let’s be honest here, half the time I was just trolling and scrolling.
It’s way too easy to get distracted by meaningless nonesense on social media. Especially in the word of memes that somehow seem to make our day.
It didn’t take me long to realize how much of my time was actually being eaten up by NOTHING.
My own thoughts revealed themselves. I had my own ideas.
- I didn’t notice how much I thought of the world and of myself until I stopped giving myself a constant stream of everyone else’s thoughts and ideas. But in all the silence I had just created, my brain was like “BAM! Here I am. Listen to this great idea…”
You don’t really realize how much of your own original thoughts and ideas are drowned out by the constant use of social media.
We get so saturated consuming the content made available to us that we begin to get lazy when it comes to thinking for ourselves.
We become well-versed in knowing what other people think about a particular subject or what “someone else” would do. And we easily assimilate what we get “out there” into our own thought patterns and processes, without even realizing it.
In fact, social media kind of becomes the measuring stick by which we can gauge “what everyone else is doing” and what the trends are. But how often do we step back and ask ourselves how we feel about it, or where do we fit in with all of what’s happening or whether or not it is EVEN RELEVANT to our own personal lives?
Being off social media gave me a chance to explore my own brain. I was both amused and surprised to find that I still have a pretty active mind, despite all the mind-numbing garbage I’ve spent the last few years consuming.
Self-esteem boost: I started liking myself more.
- I stopped comparing myself to everyone and everything else. I stopped feeling like everyone else was better than me in some way. Then I started to realize I was pretty amazing in my own ways, and I was like “Hey, you kinda cool, Girl.”
Over the years, I had cultivated the habit of comparing myself to others in a way that was detrimental to my health and sanity, but I didn’t realize it. It was a problem that was so beneath-the-surface that it ate away at my confidence even thought I didn’t know it was a problem that I had.
A lot of that “trolling and scrolling” time was spent looking at other people’s *accomplishments* and their beautiful photos of how perfect their lives were. It made me build even greater resentment towards the parts of myself and my life that I already didn’t like.
For example, I’ve always had a problem with my nose. I don’t like it. I’ll admit that. I never did. And I’ve never had full, lush lips like all the best beauty gurus do, either.
Boy, did that combination make me hate myself.
I always say that I’m going to get plastic surgery when I can finally afford to (like when my son isn’t at the age where he would try to rip the bandages off my face.)
Looking at all these perfectly edited photos of beautiful women had me feeling like a hag, I ain’t gonna lie.
Like, I have pores and scars and my face isn’t symmetrical at all. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not beautiful.
And when it comes to my body, I’m not perfectly thin, I have stretch marks even though I don’t have a perfect hourglass body. One of my boobs is bigger than the other. Again, I’m covered in scars. My skin isn’t perfectly smooth and my fat isn’t in “all the right places.”
But who’s to say that this makes me unattractive? Only me, when I waste my time comparing myself to others. But I’m doing that to myself.
Staying off social media allowed me to get reacquainted with myself and what makes me me. It gave me a chance to step back and value myself, without the comparison factor.
I started living authentically for me.
- Spending all that time watching others and keeping up with posting on the internet had my head in all the wrong places. I was doing a lot, but most of it wasn’t true to me. I was trying to “fit in” and “make it” in the eyes of others. Once I stopped caring about whether or not my life or work was “social media worthy”, I found myself. I did me. I cared about what I LIKED and not how many people liked me or what I was doing. And it felt great.
Staying off social media gave me a chance to wipe the canvas of my imagination clean enough for me to paint my own picture of the life I really wanted to live.
A lot of people know that I travel and have traveled for the last 4 years+, spending very little time back home in Canada.
And a lot of people talk to me like I’m living that glorious “travel-blogger” life and it doesn’t make sense that I don’t write a travel blog. They don’t travel much, obviously, so of course they’d like a juicy inside-scoop of what life is like where they haven’t seen.
But my life has been extraordinarily nothing like the glamorous life of a travel-blogger. I don’t get to sit on the beach and sip margaritas. When I go to the beach, I get to chase my toddler through the sand and save him from diving into the ocean. Or battle him to stop wiping sand in his face in his attempt to relieve his eyes of the sand that he keeps wiping in his face.
That’s why I never have pictures of the beach (with me in the them.) And for the record, I’ve never worn a bikini (or owned one for more than two months). So that’s why you don’t see me sunbathing in a sexy suit beside the pretty pools I snap once in a while.
Again, I’m a real mom, guys. But even I forgot that. (No, I didn’t forget to be a mom. I forgot that I’m not obligated to fit into YOUR stereotype of what a “travelling millennial mom” should look like.)
No matter what I did, how I shared it (or wanted to share it) on social media, it affected how I experienced it and enjoyed it. The idea of this looming audience and my desire to please and wow them had me mixing up my priorities in where I placed my focus – or at least how I portrayed them to others.
Getting off social media gave me a chance to really re-evaluate my life and what mattered to me. I got to ask myself important questions all over again, and then answer them without the influence of “others.”
Questions like “What do I really want out of life. And why? Why do I want that?” “What truly makes me happy, fills my heart and brings me to life?”
Now, I’m not going to sit here and lie to you, saying that I’ve found the answers to those questions and now I know the meaning of life. I’m still in the discovery and development process.
What I can say for sure is that I understand myself a lot better and I can do without caring what others think of me…for real.
*This is why I’ve changed my website, for those of you who have noticed. It’s time for me to streamline and focus on my true purposes. I will be reposting some of my older works in the near future. But for now, I’m in the middle of rebuilding a brand that’s true to me…even more than before. Lol.*
SOCIAL MEDIA IS A TOOL, BUT SOMETIMES WE ALLOW IT TO BE MORE.
Getting off social media was a HUGE change in my personal life. For as long as there was a computer in my house (at about 7 years old) I have found myself drawn to the internet and the possibilities that the connection brings.
But if we’re not careful, social media can consume your whole life and make you forget how to live.
Unfortunately, most of us millennials didn’t really even get a chance to learn how to live. We were bombarded by the connectivity of our new world from the time we could read and write.
I want to do my part to change that, if I can. For me, that means being an example.
Now that I’ve learnt this, I’m going to put it into practice. Sharing my experience here was just the first step. There’s going to be a whole lot more where that came from.
And a whole lot more of using services like HOOTSUITE to save my precious, valued time.
So for now, stay tuned…or not. You can always do like me and stay offline for a bit too.
Your life is what you make it.