If you’re on social media, you know as well as I do that it can be addictive. Do you ever find yourself caught in the scroll and time suddenly disappears? What about the comparison trap that happens when you see other people’s lives and they just look like it is all so amazing? I use social media for my business and while I have created some boundaries around how and when I use it, I noticed that it’s been a while since I stopped using it and decided to go on a social media fast. I started with 7 days, and went to 10 days and I’ll share my learnings with you if you are curious about doing it yourself.
I want to be clear that I think social media can be an amazing tool. Like many things in life, nothing is inherently bad or good. Technology and the internet has allowed small businesses to gain access to people they never would have and there is so much inspiration that can be shared across platforms and through virtual communities. At the same time, like anything that is overused – it can control you. You can become so attached to the new posts and messages that you don’t know what it would be like if you didn’t check your social media account so many times a day. As I love to challenge myself to explore new ways of thinking – knowing that I’ve been on social media for some time now – I felt it was time to go off of it over the holidays and focus on my family.
You get to choose
I know this might sound like such a simple thing to do – to just not go on social media, but if you use social media for business or even for pleasure – there is a feeling not just of missing out, but of becoming obsolete. The thing I realized though before I decided to do the social media fast was that social media is a construct in our lives just like anything else is. If I want to make social media a big part of my business, I can. If I don’t, I also can. It has no bearing on my success in business. This brings me to a different question which is something we don’t do often enough, ask why are we using or doing the things we use or do?
My answer for this question as it relates to social media is that I want to inspire and be inspired. I learn a lot through social media from the accounts I follow. From recipes to mentors I work with, I love learning new things from social media. I also follow friends and I like to be in touch even when I’m not in touch with them. I realized then that I have three purposes, which is to share about my business, share about my personal life (within boundaries) and add value.
When and how
Coming away from social media and then coming back to it allowed me to see what I’ve missed when I’m off social media as well as given me time to think about how I want to use it as I come back. My first thoughts are that I want to be on social media less overall. This means not scrolling right before bed using time boundaries, and also not first thing in the morning. I go on around lunch time and before we eat dinner as a family with time allotments so I don’t mindlessly scroll. That’s when I’ll check my messages or respond to comments and post.
The other thing is to decide when I don’t want to use it. When I don’t want to use social media is just as important as when I do, if not even more important. For something that blends in with our lives (and our phones), it can be easy to check emails and then social media constantly throughout the day. Here are my designated phone-free times.
- Meal times
- Personal outings (these include dates, or family trips/outings)
It’s also helpful for me to communicate with people about social media. For example, telling people that you’re going to post or asking their permission before you do so is a key aspect to keeping relationships healthy. There are certain things I don’t share on social media that make up a big part of my life and that is ok. You or I don’t owe people our entire personal or professional lives.
When I went off social media for those 10 days, it reminded me of how amazingly cool or amazingly mundane our lives are that people have no clue about. When we look back at all that has happened, our lives are really pretty rich in so many beautiful ways. There were so many fun moments that occurred over the course of the 10 days that I would have shared on social media, but didn’t. It didn’t make it any less real or special that I didn’t share it with others. It reminded me of that saying, “if a tree fell in the forest, and no one saw it, did it really fall?”.
The unequivocal answer is yes, it did happen. I like to think of social media as a time capsule. Something that captures things after they are happening, but not necessarily before or during. We live our lives first and foremost. Our real lives, not the ones on the internet, are the most important thing for us to attend to. Our real minds, not those of others. Our real relationships, not other people’s. Our real bodies, not anyone else’s. Live your life first.
Even when I was on social media, there is just so much that is not captured that it reminded me that we get to choose what we want to share and when. It takes some intention, like anything else, to be thoughtful and helpful about the content I share – but when i get a message from someone letting me know that they really needed to hear that one thing I shared that day, it reminds me that the energy behind the intention is always carried through and felt.
Trust yourself (to be seen and heard by the right people)
It might sound so strange to say this, but I feel so inspired now coming back to social media. I feel like I’ll have a different kind of mental clarity that taking a break provides. It has shown me that I can trust myself and that I’ll be seen and heard by the right people at the right time. I love the way it’s been able to connect me with others but I also love the way that I can decide how I want to be seen. I’ve decided to trust that my filter-less videos and photos are as beautifully magnetic as the ones where I’ve had a professional photographer. I’ve also learned to trust that my sense of reality is different then others so that when I share my life – it may look very different – or not – but the response isn’t what matters.
What matters when we do show up is that we are coming from a place of authenticity and connection. Of being the same person they would meet in real life. Of being a friend, a confidante, and a guide who is just as human as they are. I know that as technology changes, we’ll be asked to consistently figure out how we interact with it and engage with it in healthy and productive ways. This is no different. Taking a break via the social media fast was just as rejuvenating as a retreat. At a time when we are constantly complaining about how little time we have, figuring out how you want to manage social media usage is not a small decision.
Knowing now how fun that social media fast was, you bet I’ll be doing more of them. You probably won’t even realize it because you’ll be too busy living your own beautiful lives. Either way, we can come to all of these tools with a greater sense of fun, play, and purpose – and use them the way that is the most beneficial for us. Whether that’s being on every day, every other day, or just whenever you feel like it – I think it’s time for us to ask ourselves why are we on social media and if that aligns with how we’re spending our time on these tools.
If you want to join in on the fun of creating a new way of thinking, we’re going to be re-training our brains during my Mindful Heart Bootcamp on 1/23. Learn mindfulness techniques and strategies to train your brain for optimal success, resilience as well as to manifest your desires. I can’t wait to spend the afternoon with you! You can check it out at https://mayempson.com/mindfulheart.
I love you my friends and thanks for joining me this week. If you’re wondering how to start shaping your life to be more fully present, engaged and creatively – go to https://mayempson.com/yourbestyear to learn more about creating a virtual planning retreat using Your Best Year, the 2021 visioning retreat.