One Week Down, Happily Forever To Go
One week ago, we were sitting at a table at a local pizza joint after our slumber party shoot when J and I got into a discussion about her quitting social media. She was absolutely convinced that anyone could quit social media ... that it’s just like quitting caffeine or any other crutch. It’s tough for a couple days, then you simply don’t miss it. Then came the bet. Jamie presented me with an offer I couldn’t refuse. She offered me fancy adirondack chairs for my new deck if I quit social media for one month. We shook on it (or we toasted, which seems more likely) and that was that.
So, today marks a little over a week that I have not looked at or engaged with any of my personal social media accounts.
[Full Disclosure: As you know, social media marketing is my jam so I did engage in social media related tasks for our clients only.]
Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. I do not miss social media.
Just as J described, it took a day or two for me to shake the urge to check my phone. It had just become a chronic “condition” to press that home button on my phone to check for any updates on my social media accounts. But, by Tuesday, the urge had basically faded away. I actually feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I almost felt like it was my duty to check it, constantly. I know it sounds crazy but I felt compelled to stop whatever I was doing to check my social media accounts or post on them … or to stop and take a picture of something with the intent of sharing the photo on Facebook or Instagram. Just thinking about it now sounds exhausting.
2. Social media is the devil. 👹
I have always said that jokingly to people. However, I’m really not joking. Of course social media has its positives. It’s a wonderful tool to keep in touch with friends and family, especially if they aren’t local. As an animal advocate, I’m very aware that it has also saved thousands of lives. The networking opportunities are endless and animals that would otherwise never have had a chance are finding new loving homes thanks to the power of social media.
But here’s what else social media does ... it causes drama. It ruins relationships, raises my blood pressure, and makes me constantly question my worth because everyone is always posting how perfect their lives are. Even when I knew damn well that Susie Q’s life wasn’t as peachy as she made it look, it would still bother me to look at her photos of her picture perfect house, fancy car, and pics of her kids in their expensive clothes. I don’t even know why it would bother me because I live a pretty awesome life ... but it would. Or I would see friends out together and I would question why we weren’t invited. Even if there was no malicious intent on their part, it would hurt my feelings, and sometimes make my blood boil.
My quality of life has improved so dramatically, it’s almost unreal.
People will say, “Oh, did you see what so and so posted on Facebook! Doesn’t that make you mad?” Actually … nope. Didn’t see it, don’t care, and I’m much happier because I didn’t. Facebook in particular can be a really amazing tool for some things but it can truly breed trouble and my life is better without it. Sorry, not sorry.
3. My relationships with those around me have improved exponentially.
To think that I would mentally exit whatever I was doing or check out of whatever conversation I was having in actual life (yup, with an actual human being) to check in on a virtual world. How sad is that? Not only is it sad but I realize how downright rude I was being.
For the first time I was on the other side of talking to someone who was engrossed in their phone. I was talking to a zombie who was not actually listening to me. I was so irritated … then it hit me ... that I was guilty of this way too often. I don’t even know how I retained some of the relationships I have seeing as I have likely done this to all of them at one time or another. Of course, it was not my intent to be rude but, in hindsight, I was being a gigantic jerk.
4. My relationship with my four-year-old daughter has completely changed. 💜
This ties into the above but it deserves its own mention. I have never in all of her time here on Earth ever felt so present, and truly able to appreciate my daughter for who she is.
I would never label myself as a bad mother before. I would bring her to the aquarium, and show up to every karate class. I kissed her goodnight every single night, kissed boo boos, and gave her extra cookies even when I knew she had already reached her limit. I provided her with her basic needs, of course, and spoiled her with new stuffed animals and trips to Amatos. But here’s the thing …
Since the day she was born, I feel like I’ve watched my child grow up through the lens of my phone.
I was so wrapped up in the perceived necessity of snapping photos and posting them on social media that I forgot to actually be present and enjoy my daughter. How many thousands of moments have I missed because I was taking the pictures? I was completely engrossed in my phone as I was posting photos, coming up with clever captions, and then constantly checking in to see who liked or commented on the photos of my beautiful little girl being silly, or sweet, or creative!
I HAVE MISSED SO MUCH.
It hurts me to admit how much I have missed but the only thing I can do is make sure I don’t miss anymore. In just a week’s time my daughter has become more affectionate towards me. She seeks me out to show me something she has created or she simply asks me to come sit outside with her and watch the world go by. Granted, I’m sure she would have done these things with me all along but, after awhile, when a child feels ignored, they’ll eventually give up and go to someone else who will give them the attention they deserve.
In my case, I have always felt jealous of my husband because I thought my daughter liked him more. Here’s the thing ... it wasn’t that she liked him more. It was that he was always present with her and truly appreciated every moment he had with her. She was his priority when they were together. Whereas all of these years, my phone and social media accounts had become my priority. Imagine that.
In just one week my daughter picked up on the fact that my phone is not present during my time at home. She doesn’t have to ask me to pay attention if she wants to show me something on television. She doesn’t have to repeat herself when she asks me something because I hear her the first time. When I look at her, I truly see her for all of the magic and fun that she is. I always call her my wild child (and I mean that in the most beautiful way). If only we could all live our lives with the same outlook that she has this world would be a much better place.
I wasn’t a bad mother prior to my social media hiatus. I was just not a present mother.
And how sad to think of all of the wonderful moments that I missed that I can’t get back. Sure, I have pictures and videos, but it’s simply not the same. My relationship with my little girl suffered and I’m just so grateful that I made this realization now and that I still have so many years left to enjoy and cherish.
5. I have gained so much time and increased my productivity tenfold.
So much time was wasted aimlessly scrolling. Whether it be at work or during my free time. In fact, this past weekend my daughter and I were able to clean up an old stump and create a crazy awesome fairy garden. It was a great experience and it was just me and her. No distractions and we got a ton of work done! So much fun! When you don’t have such a time suck to pull you in, you find legitimate work to get done. Win, win!
So in the end, am I saying I will never check in on Facebook again? Probably not as it is a way of keeping in touch with people that I don’t get to see often. However, I will commit to continuing my hiatus for the rest of the month for sure. I’m convinced that at month’s end I’m going to uncover many more benefits of staying away from social media. So who knows? I may cut the cord all together by then and head back to the days of letters and telephone calls to keep in touch. Anyone who knows me is probably as shocked as I am but life is a journey of learning and growth. This life lesson is one I’m grateful for.