On June 12, I went quiet. What some might call a radical decision, I decided to go off social media for the summer. For me, this meant instagram and facebook.
As stated in my instagram post from that day, I sensed some things were coming to a head in my life, and I needed the space to process it all.
The break did indeed offer that space, and I'm jumping on my blog to journal some of the observations I made during the last two months I have *mostly* been off of social media.
I say "mostly" because I did hop onto facebook and instagram to check my notifications. Like it or not, if one has had, in particular, a facebook account for any length of time, it can actually be logistically challenging to pull the plug entirely. For some people, facebook and/or instagram is their only point of contact for me. I receive a number of invitations via facebook and learn quite a lot of community happenings via this medium as well. It makes a complete removal from fb not impossible but unattractive for sure.
Also, about a month into my break, I started to go onto instagram just to look up specific people and "catch up" on their life...well, their instagram life anyway. :) So, a cheater I am for sure. But, this actually worked well in helping me make some observations about myself which will in turn help me to set individual boundaries that will serve me in the long run in my social media use.
So, here are a few things I observed during my break.
1. Less cluttered mind
The first two weeks I was off social media, I found my mind less cluttered with both the joyful and mournful events of others' lives and more fully engaged in my reality. Sometimes, this actually felt selfish and self absorbed. I am an incredibly relationally-oriented person, and oddly enough it felt self centered at times to not be in touch with others' lives.
Nevertheless, the break was absolutely needful because this summer has not been the relaxed, carefree season that most associate with summer. It's been hectic and full of unexpected emergencies, mild disasters and ongoing health issues. I really needed to be fully engaged--mind, body and spirit--with my small, little life here on Montford.
I was more attentive to the needs of my home and family because I wasn't also simultaneously cataloging the needs of others. If you're not an empath, you may not understand this. If you are an empath, you are totally nodding your head, and may want to consider a social media break yourself.
2. Timing of checking others' accounts is crucial
My "cheating" ended up revealing to me how important it is for me to be intentional about when I check social media. Do I have the emotional capacity and the physical time to process through and respond to something I may see or read in a way that is honoring to God and to those I follow on these accounts?
If I'm at the end of a stressful day with my children or in the middle of a conflict with my husband, it may not be the best time to check instagram where I may stumble upon someone else's well dressed, smiling children being rewarded for their hard work at school that day or a couple's anniversary smooch shared in front of the Grand Floridian hotel.
If I am waiting on hold with a doctor's office, is that really a good time to scroll facebook where I could learn that someone's loved one has suddenly passed away? Do I really have the time to respond well to that information at that time?
For me, this is important. There are real people on the other end of our social media feeds. Many of them are people I know in real life and who I have a deep affection for or at least respect. To quickly "like" someone's post or write, "praying" on a post where someone has just shared heavy news does not set well for me.
3. I benefit from those I follow on social media, and I missed that.
Over the several years I have been on social media, instagram especially, I have curated a specific group of mostly women who really do minister hope and inspiration to my soul through their feeds. While away, I missed their input.
4. I love to communicate via this medium.
In addition to being a highly relational person, I am also a highly communicative one. I missed the outlet social media provides for me to communicate not only the events of my life but moreso my thoughts and feelings.
Stepping away allowed me to evaluate my own feed. Of all the noise in this sphere, I want to set myself apart by providing a feed that will be encouraging, uplifting, soaked in solidarity for those in similar seasons or stages of life and always, always pointing people to Jesus.
With all this in mind, I am ending my break from social media. But, I'm doing it with some clearer and more helpful boundaries in place to make it beneficial rather than the bane of my online presence.