Social Media Detox Part II

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Hello May 6th (a.k.a. exactly one month into my social media detox)! I feel like I should stand up and say, “Hi, my name is Katie and I’m a social media addict.” Some days are easier than others and, as each day goes by, I do believe the temptation fades a bit more. However, it’s always there just as with any addiction.

I’ve caught myself on several occasions tapping on the Facebook app just out of habit. Within seconds it triggers a reaction of, “What the heck are you doing!?” and I quickly close the app. It’s not even a desire to check Facebook. It’s just a habit; muscle memory, if you will.

For the most part, I have no need or desire to log in to my social media accounts. The positivity that I experienced in Week 1 has just amplified tenfold. I’m basking in the benefits of living a full life, exploding with genuine face-to-face engagement with my friends and family. So what have I learned from this one-month hiatus?

My Social Life

As I mentioned after Week 1, my relationships with everyone around me have improved dramatically. One thing I hadn’t really experienced during Week 1 was going out without my trusty sidekick, my iPhone. In the last several weeks, we went out to dinner with several dear friends of ours and just yesterday we attended a birthday party for our tiny buddy, Oliver. Something I realized is that people haven’t really noticed my hiatus, which is interesting. I thought that my social media presence actually “meant” something and that if I was gone, people would miss my posts ... or would maybe even be worried about where I went. Just goes to show that my online presence, or lack thereof, isn’t nearly as Earth shattering as I thought! This isn’t a bad thing though. It’s a relief to be honest. I don’t need social media and social media doesn’t need me. Life still goes on and the world continues to rotate.

I was speaking with a couple last night who we typically see at birthdays, holidays, etc. We were talking about my hiatus and they divulged they, too, had sworn off social media for many of the same reasons that I’m now discovering. We agreed there is such a cleansing feeling from saying adios to the virtual land. Also, it forces (or encourages) us to reach out to people via other avenues of communication to just say, “Hello. How are you?” … rather than just browsing their newsfeed.

It’s incredible how much more I get out of the experience of being surrounded by people I love. For so many years, I always had my phone nearby and would check it constantly. These days I don’t even bring my phone with me into a restaurant or to a party. Because for every second wasted checking my phone, I’m missing out on conversations, interactions, and moments that I can never get back. I’m more engaged and I’ve had conversations with more people that I may not have interacted with in the past … mostly because if I wasn’t actively talking to someone, I knew I could just run to my phone, my comfort zone, and block out anyone or anything else happening around me. I felt like my time spent at dinners and parties in the last 30 days have been more fun and more meaningful because I was 100% present.

My Married Life

My marriage was suffering and I was too distracted to notice. I always thought we had a strong relationship and a pretty perfect marriage. Of course, all couples bicker here and there but, for the most part, I always felt very confident in our partnership. What I didn’t realize was that I was essentially having an affair with my phone and putting my husband on the back burner. Similar to my experience with our daughter, I noticed how much I was missing out with Jeff when I was completely consumed by my phone during date night or simply watching television together.

For the first time in years, Jeff and I had an opportunity to sit on our front porch and just enjoy a cup of coffee together. Just the two of us. No phones. We were enjoying the simplicity of each other for the first time in quite awhile. It didn’t need a picture to document that it actually happened. It’s a memory that, although may seem so simple to others, was so sweet and enjoyable to us.

In the last month, I remembered how much fun we used to have together when we first met. After all, when we met, smart phones weren’t really a thing. At least not something everyone had. In fact, Facebook wasn’t even around yet. I’m really aging us, I know, but it reminded me of why we fell in love with each other to begin with. It’s been really refreshing. Of course, no marriage is perfect and as in any relationship, there is always room to spice things up and keep things interesting. But it’s truly amazing (and sad, and scary) how removing social media from a marriage can spark such a renewed sense of joy. If one month of detox can do so much good, think of how much damage several years of the opposite can do.

The biggest thing I have learned, and it makes me sad for people who may never figure this out, is:

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You can live a perfectly happy life without documenting a single second of it.

Of course it would have been nice to snap a selfie of Jeff and I enjoying our quiet morning on our front deck. However, just because I don’t have that selfie doesn’t mean it’s any less real. There are a few people in my life, whether personal or professional, who are completely obsessed with taking pictures of every single thing they do and posting on social media. It almost seems like they do it out of desperation ... as if their life doesn’t have any meaning unless it’s posted on social media. I’m genuinely sad for those people yet relieved that I came to this realization before I wasted any more of my life living that way.

It’s ok to do a nice thing for someone and not announce to the world that you did it. It’s ok to be really proud of your accomplishment. I promise, it doesn’t make it any less monumental if you don’t share it on your feed. Share these things with the people in your life who actually mean something to you. People who are going to show you genuine support and give you a real life high five, not an emoji.

There’s a saying, “Pics, or it didn’t happen.” I’m here to tell you that is B.S.

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My Fit Life

This brings me to something else I did in the last month. I joined the Tuff Girl family. I quickly learned that Tuff Girl is not just another gym. It’s a group of primarily women who have created the most uplifting and encouraging community that I’ve ever seen. What’s interesting is I have joined this beautiful family and have been working on myself mentally and physically for ME ... not for the purpose of posting my achievements and progress on social media. I think my detox from social media, in conjunction with becoming a Tuff Girl, has provided me with the opportunity for some serious personal growth. Each time I walk into that gym, and I’m greeted by a room full of genuine smiles and encouraging hellos, I know that the next hour is for me to focus on myself and to let go of any outside stressors.

Tuff girl focuses on strength, both mental and physical. Let’s be real, this gym is no joke and we don’t sit around singing Kumbaya. It’s a serious kick-ass workout and my ass is looking a little higher and tighter because of it. But the reason I think I’ve gotten so much out of my experience with Tuff Girl is because each time I walk in for a session, it’s 100% about ME. I haven’t posted a single blurb about my first pull-up ... or about how I didn’t want to go to the gym but was so glad that I did. Why? Because for the first time, this is MY personal journey. It has nothing to do with getting Likes and comments under a Facebook post.

In years past, I can vividly remember going to the gym for the sake of saying I did, because I was looking for some type of virtual fist bump. Guess what, if you’re going to the gym for the approval of others, you aren’t getting out of it what you could be. It needs to be for you and about you. Tuff Girl has taught me some valuable lessons and I’m so grateful for my TG family. What I’ve also learned is that I can celebrate and be damn proud of myself for my accomplishments ... and they are just as amazing even without me posting them on social media.

So I guess we can call this a social experiment. I’m the prime example of a recovering social media addict. It completely consumed me. And if someone didn’t present me with a pretty sweet bet, I doubt I would’ve ever even attempted a detox. It has been the biggest blessing and I wish I had done it sooner. I know it sounds cliche’ but if I can do it, literally ANYONE can do it. But don’t do it for someone else, do it for you. You may cut yourself off from what seems like an endless virtual world but in reality, your actual world will get a whole lot bigger and brighter.

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