The Socials Experiment: How my break from social media sold me on why I don’t need to return.

On September 4th, I made an impulse decision to delete social media for Labor Day Weekend as we started to sink into our weekend of rest at home. Something different happened during this little social media sabbath than has ever happened before – I didn’t want it back. As Tuesday rolled around, I felt the Lord telling me to give in to the urge I felt to continue my break and I have to tell you – it has felt amazing.

Right before I took a break from “the socials”, I received a notification from facebook that it was my 15 year anniversary. 15 years. Almost half of my life has been spent on facebook. I’m a little embarrassed but the truth of the matter is that facebook today looks nothing like it did when I joined. I was a college freshman and at the time, facebook was the new myspace where only college students could have an account. It was a place to connect with friends at different schools and to become friends with the cute boy in my Psychology class.

It was not a place to strike up an argument with your old neighbor over the title of an article you shared that doesn’t fit their political narrative. It was not a place filled with targeted ads. It was not a place with facebook groups from people in your past that you haven’t talked to in years looking to sell you something you don’t need. It was a simpler time for sure but the platform that was meant to build connections has really just filled us with a sense of false connection. Data shows that this generation is most connected yet most isolated of any generation before and it all comes back to the ways we live our lives behind a screen instead of finding true connection with one another face to face.

If you’ve ever been curious about ways to spend less time on social media and screen time limits are just not cutting it, here are some things that have worked for me this past month – and I don’t think I’ll ever come back to use social media in the same way.

  • Use the desktop version of facebook and instagram to check in.
    • We live in a world where it is difficult to completely cut yourself off from social media, especially if you’re involved with your church, your school, and even your community. Being able to simply login on the desktop every couple of days to check messages and notifications has been exactly what I need to keep up with groups that are important to me without getting sucked into an endless scroll.
  • Shared Photo Albums.
    • When my friend Molly – hi Molly! – had her daughter Lucy, she added me to their shared photo album through iCloud. When we had Henry, I knew I didn’t want to share his photos on social media and that shared albums was the perfect way to stay connected with family and to share photos as an alternative to sharing photos on social media. Our family loves it!
  • MarcoPolo
    • Yall – I love MarcoPolo! Please add me and let’s connect!!! It’s so special to get to send videos of our family and friends without having to schedule a time to facetime.
  • Be selective with your media
    • Subscribe to news outlets your trust. I personally subscribe to The New York Times. Others I like are Axios, Politico, and NPR.
    • Shy away from cable news – FoxNews, CNN, etc. I personally feel like the pressure of filling 24 hour news slots for the last 20 years has been a load too much to bear and it shows in the reporting – although there are reporters I trust within those outlets.
    • News related podcasts that I listen to: Pantsuit Politics, Church and Politics, The Daily by NYTimes.
    • For Pop Culture news, I’m a proud patron of The Popcast. They keep me well informed.
  • Email Newsletters
    • Just as you’ve subscribed to TFF (thank you so much!!), there are tons of content creators that you enjoy on social media who send out a regular newsletter which includes much of what they share on social media. The truth of the matter is, social media could be gone in the blink of an eye – y’all remember what happened to Vine! – and many content creators are finding themselves creating content in an email format to better keep in contact with their readers as platforms and social media trends change.
  • Find other ways to occupy your time.
    • Apparently enneagram 8’s have a hard time NOT multitasking. I couldn’t understand why my screen time wasn’t changing without social media and it’s because I was just finding other things on my phone to do during the time I would normally spend scrolling – especially at night when I’m winding down. Call me grandma but now we’re working crossword and sudoku puzzles the old fashioned way – pencil on paper – before bed and we love it.

Here’s the thing – I’ve missed out on some things since being off social media and I’ll likely continue to be the last to know but I’m ok with that. What I’ve learned is that my desire to be in the know was so much more about me having the information than being able to celebrate my friends as they share their news. Pretty backwards huh? (But please text me if something big happens in your life!)

I’m not saying that you should cut out social media – I certainly didn’t intend to when I took a break last month – but I would encourage you to think about the amount of time you’re spending, the root of why you’re spending so much time there, how you might could form deeper connections with people outside of social media, and what you might gain back with the time you’re currently spending behind your screen. Take a little social media hiatus yourself and implement some of these practices. You might be surprised by how much of a difference it makes on your mind, body and spirit. AND You might actually enjoy it!