Artwork by Kimberlee.
File this post under: my love/hate relationship with social media. (…aaand the saga continues!)
A few weeks back during a trip to Japan with my husband, I had a major realization: I spend a LOT of time on my phone. Our trip was 14 days total and in the first 12 days, Blake read four books. While he was exercising his brain, learning and enveloped in stories, I was glued to social media, learning zip (except for what top so-and-so was wearing, or where so-and-so was vacationing…very important, life altering facts, right?) and in reality, feeling pockets of doubt every time my thumb hit the screen because social media has a special way of messing with our psyche.
Blake doesn’t have Instagram, he rarely gets on Facebook and is a quiet lurker at times on Twitter (mostly for news updates…or when Kanye tweets). He has no social media on his phone. In stark contrast, Instagram uses up 40% of my phone battery on the regular. That’s on a good day. Hi, my name is Olivia and I’m addicted to Instagram.
By the time we hit day 12 of our trip, I decided it was time for me to close out my apps and open up the book I’d bought for the trip. In the final two days, I went cold turkey with social media and actually finished said book – start to finish. Y’all. ONE BOOK. TWO DAYS. MIND BLOWN. And you know what? My self doubt came to a halt on those two blissful days – I didn’t feel the guilt or shame that comes with wasting time on social media (this is very real for me) and best of all, I felt proud and accomplished for completing something that added value and joy to my life.
Since returning home, I’ve made a conscious effort to get on the ‘gram less in my free time, and instead pick up a book (or two! Yes it’s a miracle, I am reading two books at the same time…!) and also carve out more time to write. Did you know that I love to write? I’d like to think it was once the foundation of my blog – and hopefully by being more cognizant of how I spend my precious minutes, I’ll get back to those roots.
What I’m saying is this – we spend SO MUCH TIME on social media when we could be doing things that make us feel good and enrich our lives. I really do think social media has become this crazy addictive thing in our society… (insert a giant arrow pointing directly at me in this scenario!). Our phones have become our security blankets – an extension of our right hands, and checking social media throughout the day has become a subconscious activity. So much so, that sometimes I’ll be chatting on the phone with someone and I’ll get the urge to minimize the call and check Instagram. It’s completely unnecessary, and also quite scary to think that this is a compulsive action. I am still engaged in the conversation and yet the urge is so strong that I cannot wait five minutes for the call to end. Without even thinking, my fingers are going through the motions to get that social media fix. Though it’s embarrassing to come to terms with how ridiculous that sounds, being aware is the first step to initiating a change in habits.
I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been challenging to distance myself from my phone when 1. social media is addictive and 2. when it’s also my job to maintain a presence on Instagram (…and Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter…but who’s counting?). At the same time, it affects me the same way it affects my friends. We get down on ourselves when we see someone else gallivanting in paradise or someone else’s perfectly decorated living room – because, well, we want to be gallivanting in paradise and we want to be having coffee on that beautiful sofa with an immaculately styled bookshelf in the backdrop. The sad thing is, I KNOW those photos are staged and that coffee was probably brewed as a prop (and probably cold by the time the Instagram shoot wrapped up). Or that the girl laughing on the beach with buttery smooth skin probably made her husband take 100 different shots of the exact same thing and then she edited her skin to be silky smooth (I have never met a woman without cellulite, no matter how small she is!)… but even knowing how the strange world of social media works, I still feel those pangs of self doubt, envy and negativity – and it leaves me feeling worn down and icky.
In the same vein (and for lack of a better transition after my rant in the previous paragraph…), I love what I do for a job and am forever grateful to have this space, but there’s a way to have both social media and “me time” that consists of leaving my phone in another room – insert “balance.” (See? My word for 2018 is still coming into play!). I can get on Instagram and enjoy it for what it is: a platform to connect with my readers, a source of inspiration and a creative outlet. But then I can also get off within a reasonable timeframe (ideally before my confidence dips and questions about what I’m doing with my life start to pop into my head haha) and pick up a book, go for a run or open a word doc and spend time doing something else I really love, that can also provide personal growth. (…Sorry, Facebook, but I just don’t think you can give the same sense of fulfillment!).
Even though it’s only been a couple of weeks since we returned home and I’ve started to build out these new habits, I am already feeling a world of difference. I know it’s not rocket science to get off social media and do something more stimulating or rewarding with my time (riveting!), but I figured if I’m feeling these woes and found some sort of positive solution (or, at the very least, am much more aware of myself), then perhaps my story may resonate with someone else.
And with that, I ask you: what’s something you love to do that doesn’t involve social media?
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! 😉 XO