On June 1st, while writing in my journal, I hit upon a stunning truth: Social Media was taking over my life. The only way I thought I could beat it? My usual MO: Cold turkey. Not one for indecisiveness, I immediately set out to do a 30-day Social Media Detox, uninstalling Instagram and Snapchat from my phone, and deactivating my Facebook account. And I announced my intentions publicly, because you know, shame is a big motivator.
It is now the beginning of July – more than 30 days have passed. Do you want to know the results of my experiment? I bet you do!
Did I cheat at all?
No, I did not take even one single, eeny, teeny peek at any social media! I thought I would be tempted, but it turns out I wasn’t at all. Out of sight, out of mind.
What about FOMO?
FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, had been a big concern before I went off, but it turns out that because you don’t know what you are missing, it doesn’t even matter! So I was not the first person to hear of Mohamed Ali’s passing, or of the tragedy in Orlando, or Brexit… but I did hear about all of those things and kept abreast of news just fine without all the posturing and “I stand with Orlando” that I imagine went on.
What about my business?
The real concern was whether I would still be able to run an online business and get clients without social media? Well, I did not sign a single new client in the month of June, so yeah, that could be a problem. But June is historically a slow month, and I did zero marketing. I didn’t send out any newsletters or write any blog posts or make any offers at all. I hadn’t intended to take the month away from my business like that, but without the continuous draw of social media, I just kept doing things away from the computer and phone (more below). If I want to really judge if I can run an online business without social media, I need to keep up my marketing. That will be the next goal.
I did however, get asked to review a pretty big vegan cookbook release this Fall. So although I wasn’t participating in the fray, I am not entirely out of the loop yet. (There is going to be a give-away with that review so stayed tuned!)
What was life like without social media?
- Holy Moly: Time, loads of Time!!!! I really hadn’t realized how much time I was spending staring at my phone, preparing and photographing meals, and watching other people’s lives (in the name of “finding inspiration” and “making connections”). I literally found hours of daily life free!
- My kids. Again, I had no idea how disconnected I had become from them with that phone constantly in my hand. I had thought it was them who were too busy and closed off to give me the time of day, but it had been my damn phone! Can you believe that? Do you understand how a stupid internet addiction nearly cost me the thing I value most in the entire world??? My kids and I just had the best month we have had together since they were little kids! If for nothing else, this was the greatest gift I could have ever received.
- Reading. I love reading but it had dropped off due to the time I was spending on social. I tore through probably 20 books this month alone.
- Home life. One of the books I read was Mari Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you haven’t read it, and you struggle at all with clutter in your life, it is a MUST read! With all my new free time, I embarked on a massive decluttering project that will finally have my home looking the way I want it to soon. As per the book’s instructions, I started with my own stuff, but the kid’s saw and wanted me to help them with their stuff too. My husband, the ultimate pack rat, just took 10 bags of his stuff to the donation drop, simply by observing my results. I never said a thing. It feels like a million pound weight has been lifted from us all and again, I didn’t even think we had that much clutter until I started working through this book’s novel approach!
- Cooking. One of my greatest joys in life is cooking. Again, it had been side-lined somewhat by my time on social. I had fallen into this pattern of rushing into the kitchen at 5pm with no idea what I would prepare for my family’s dinner. It was stressful and dinner sucked. Now I am pre-planning meals again, and thoroughly enjoying my creative time preparing them.
- Weight. I lost weight. Probably because of the above cooking changes, but also because I am sitting still less and spending less time looking at delicious pictures of other people’s food, which in retrospect, was probably driving my hunger and cravings.
- Privacy. We went to Rome (We went to Rome!!) and I only took pictures for the family photo album. I feel like I got us as a family unit back. I feel these boundaries around us again and I literally don’t want to share the deliciousness that is my family with anyone else. What was I thinking before, sharing our lives like that??
- Personal Development. Looking up from that little screen, I could finally see the Big Picture of my life again. I decided what I want to do next with my career, which involves a little more school, which means better Hebrew, so I enrolled in a Hebrew class. I haven’t even thought of moving forward or being able to do such a thing in the 9 years we have been here! It took setting my phone down to see it!
- Mental Peace. No unwanted political opinions. No articles screaming about the situation here and how we are all doomed. No spewing of hatred or ignorance. No rants or diatribes. People, do you remember that we used to live like this before the internet?! Why did we give up such a sense of peace?? I was never one to compare my life to other’s online lives, but I know that is a real problem for many and that Facebook in particular causes many people to be depressed. While that wasn’t an issue for me, I did always feel like a voyeur and that was vaguely uncomfortable. No more voyeurism!
- Being in the Moment. When I go to the gym, I am focused on my workout, not looking for photo ops. When we go out to eat, I don’t share a picture of the food with anyone – I just enjoy it for myself. My mind is right here, on what I am doing, not distracted, thinking of what to post when, waiting for 3pm because that’s the best time to catch the North American audience just waking up and checking their phones. I don’t have to think of things to make to photograph or search for the best light.
I. Am. SO. Happy!!!!!
Will I go back to Social Media?
Are you crazy?! Why ever would I do that?! I just had the best month of my life! I was talking to one colleague who said “But what if you find that you can’t run your business without it?” My answer was “then I will close my business or think of another way to run it.” Honestly, I feel that good. I will keep the Facebook business page, and maybe, maybe set up Instagram as a business page only, but I don’t plan on following anyone on either platform so not sure if that would even work.
Why am I telling you all of this?
I suppose it’s because now that I am off my phone, I am more tuned in to how many of you are still staring endlessly into yours. It’s a little epidemic, people.
When I published that last post announcing my plans, I got a ton of feedback. About half of it was support from others who had already made the same decision, telling me how great it was going to be. The other half all said “Ugh, I wish I could do that! But I just don’t think I can.” So I am here to tell you that you CAN and you will LOVE it!
How many of my clients complain of not having time to prepare healthy food and exercise? Yet I would see them every night “unwinding” with a little Facebook time. I promise you, if you think that maybe you spend a little too much time on social media, you are really spending a TON of time there! You won’t know how much until you stop it completely. Your entire life opens up before you!
And the happiness and productivity! And your kids and spouse! My dears, what we think is harmless entertainment is robbing us of our entire lives.
Just try a 30-day break like I did. If you don’t like it or don’t have these sorts of results, you can always go back to it.
One of my friends said “I feel so disconnected from everything as it is, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without even Facebook!” To that I say, your life will be connected again! There are real live human beings out there and exciting things to do and adventures to be had! Don’t miss the big adventure that is your life, by staring at that small screen showing other people enjoying theirs.