Social media plays a significant role in the modern day life.
It’s the way we connect, everyone feels way more accesible, you may feel as though you really know someone despite having never met them, but as you have been following their journey for the longest of time; it kind of warrants why you feel that way. And it keeps you up to speed with the day to day lives of your friends, family, celebrity’s etc.
At the beginning of this year I got tired and decided to quit my personal social media. It began with a thirty day challenge and it turned into ten months. Initially an experiment, it became a new way of living for me. I’ve been in my own little bubble for the most part of this year and I’ve loved it.
Connecting With “Friends”
I’ve put friends in quotations marks because one could argue that the people I spoke to less could be thought of as my “on the surface friends.” These are the people I get on with, but they aren’t my ride or dies. My closest of friends, are the people who I regularly speak to, visit and go on trips and dinners with and of course this group of people have my mobile number.
If I’m being honest maybe the frequency at which I spoke to them had reduced but not so much that I felt it was detrimental to our relationship. Ultimately, I felt that the quality of the relationship remained the same.
What I would say is that social media is an amazing way to interact. But I would be mindful of not letting your online relationships outweigh the tangible friendships you have in real life.
Make friends online, connect with people & use social media as a vehicle to then make that relationship tangible. Social media should not be a replacement, it should be the tool. It should be the mechanism by which you connect with people which then leads you to connect with them in real life.
Life was Less Noisy
It goes without saying with lots of information comes a lot of noise.
Things have been quieter, I’ve been in my own little bubble and to be honest the ignorance has been bliss. I was no longer bombarded with constant instagram posts, rants on twitter, life updates on Facebook. I’ve been in control of the information I consume and I soon realised that a lot of what I had spent hours scrolling through was arbitrary. I recently came across a quote by Herbert A Simon and he stated that a wealth of information has created a poverty of attention. These words couldn’t be more true for the mindless time I would be hopping from one form of social media to another. And I bet many of you could relate.
The Need for Validation
When I stopped posting pictures or tweeting I completed removed the need of validation from others. My issue specifically related to Instagram. I’ll quickly explain; I would post a picture because I LIKED it and wanted to share it with everyone hoping that they would like it to. However, the success of the picture depended upon the amount of likes/comments or overall interactions it received. And if it didn’t get as many as I had hoped for I would begin questioning whether the picture was even nice at all. For me that was an issue, I would noticed that I would check every few minutes to see whether the likes have increased and I thought this isn’t healthy. This whole seconding guessing wasn’t good for my self-esteem. I knew the picture was nice before I shared it and I’ve come to realise that I shouldn’t be intimated or care about other people’s opinions. I will continue to say, that the most important opinion is that of myself and that is all that matters. And when I stopped posting, this need for validation also stopped.
Feeling Compelled to Share My Life
I had a discussion with my friends and we struggled to pin point the time in our lives when started to feel as though it was a necessity to share our day to day lives online. We thought it may have begun when we used msn messenger and we could change our status emoji to reflect the emotion we were feeling at the time. We all post a highlight reel of our lives, and that’s fine but it’s not the full story. I’ve spent a lot of time this year learning to be mindful and to live in the present moment. And I came to realise that it was almost impossible to do that when I felt the need to show that I’m having a good time. The very act of stopping to snap or Insta story the event removes one from the present moment. There has been a few significant things that have happened this year and the need to pull out my phone and share it wasn’t a behaviour I no longer felt compelled to do, I noticed that it allowed me to take advantage and really appreciate the moment.
The Fear of Missing Out
I haven’t paid attention to the news, Twitter was literally my online newspaper.
I had no idea what was going on in the world until someone had told me.
I found things out as I did before but the difference was I wouldn’t find out first, it wouldn’t be instant “breaking” news. I just found out later, I found out the same exact information just much later on. Because I found out later, I wasn’t able to take part in some conversations as they revolved around the latest thing that’s had happened. I was ignorant but was that such a bad thing?
The societal conditioning of needing to know first, alongside the anxiety & fear driven news isn’t actually necessary.
What does being one of the first people to know do for you? I don’t see it as beneficial nor detrimental to be honest.
To be frank, finding out that bit later made no difference to my life whatsoever.
In fact, I preferred it when someone would tell me, we would have a conversation, I learnt something and if I found it interesting I had the opportunity to research it on my terms and cultivate my own opinion without the influence of others.
It sounds silly I know. But I genuinely thought that I would laugh less. I always used to say that I would never get rid of twitter as I thought and still think it’s the undefeated app in terms of how funny it is. We live in meme culture and all I had to do was open the timeline and I would be laughing in a matter of seconds.
So when I stopped using my personal Twitter I thought oh no what am I going to laugh about now?
And you know what, I’ve continued to laugh. Firstly, I still laughed with my family and friends I mean that never stopped. The podcasts I listen to are hilarious, they mention a lot of memes in their episodes. And although I’m not able to actually see what they are referring to, by listening alone and imagining what it is; it’s almost, if not even funnier because I have no limits on what it could be as my imagination would run wild with their descriptions.
Productivity & Self – Development
When I quit social media I thought to myself what am I going to do with all this free time?
I decided to learn Spanish and it’s going really well, I’m thoroughly enjoying the challenge and I feel like I’m making so much progress.
I learned more about investing and as a result developed my investing portfolio.
I have learnt a lot from people I hadn’t previously come across through their blogs & podcasts, which has made me think differently about the way things are. And I have consistently meditated everyday, and I definitely feel more aware and present.
This was the biggie, and the initial reason why I decided to come away from social media.
First and foremost we’re a nosey bunch aren’t we? It came to the stage when I thought to myself why am I so concerned with other people’s lives? And I didn’t really have an answer, I guess it could be a source of inspiration. Instagram allows you to look at everyone’s wonderful holidays, homes, places they go out to eat, activities they do etc.
It allows us to live vicariously through someone else and yes it feels good, feeds your brain with some Dopamine, and makes you happy. That’s all well and good but it’s temporary. Unless you’re truly fulfilled with your life from within you will never be happy. My question is: Would you be satisfied with your life if you had nothing to compare it to? And if we are being honest, the answer is probably yes, because you wouldn’t know the difference would you?
For me social media is a bit too far fetched and not authentic, and that really irked me. I played into it as well dont get me wrong. But it’s nice to see if for what it really is and it’s not reality it is more like a reality show that is staged. By having that awareness alone I think you can’t go wrong and it stops you from thinking you’re life isn’t as good as others and that you should be doing this that and the other because x person has done it already. If you really think about it, your life is probably going just as it needs to be and that’s alright.
So here are my findings. I wonder if anyone can relate? I decided to post on Instagram at the start of October because it is Lupus Awareness Month and I wanted to share my story and spread some awareness.
I’ve noticed since then, that I’ve checked it maybe once every few days whereas before I’d check it every hour. I really don’t see myself using social media the same way again. I feel like it can be a waste of my time and most importantly my attention. I won’t completely abandon it though I’ll use it for more educational and beneficial purposes relating to sport, nutrition and money. Regarding the news I’m not too bothered I’ll hear about it when someone tells me.
Have you ever known life without social media? I challenge you to give yourself some time and space away from it, just to see what it’s like.