I recently took a bit of a social media break for personal reasons. I might talk about those reasons one day, but right now I’m going to talk about something else: what I learned from taking a breather from the constant scrolling/tweeting/liking cycle.
I wouldn’t consider myself a social media addict, but as a blogger, millennial (just barely) and digital marketing professional, I’d be on social media sites a lot. If I had a spare few seconds – while I was waiting for the kettle to brew, while my toddler was distracted, while my laptop was booting up – I’d be on them. Pull down to refresh. Pull down to refresh. Pull down to refresh. I did it without thinking, without purpose. It was like scratching an itch.
I needed to stop. So I did. And I learned some stuff.
1. If you take a social media break, no one will notice
Literally no one is sitting around waiting for your next Facebook post or tweet. Their feeds are full of other people shouting about themselves, and they won’t miss you. Not even your biggest fans. Probably not even your friends.
If you’re worried that people will forget about you if you’re not posting in their faces constantly, they will – but that’s okay. There are worse things. Like milk bath photos.
All across the world, women are going to their partners and saying, “Hey, I’m going to put on a see-through dress and get into the bath with our baby. I need you to pour some milk all over us and scatter some flowers around my head, then take a picture.” And their partners ARE DOING IT.
The internet is so weird.
2. When you stop using social media, you suddenly have ALL THE TIME
The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Stop doing that and all of a sudden you realise, “Wait…I can actually READ now. Like, a book.” I stopped posting on social media for a week and I found time to read two books, start writing a novel and catch up on The Good Place.
And if The Good Place isn’t a good use of your time, I don’t know what is.
3. It’s nice to actually talk to people
Yes, it can be fun to exchange witty bantz with strangers on Twitter, but you know what’s even better? Having an actual conversation with an actual person who’s sitting in front of you. Your partner, maybe. Your child. That friend who’s just poured you a big glass of wine.
Hello, friend. Let’s chat.
4. You don’t miss anything
You know what’s happening on social media right now? People are posting photos their dinner (#foodporn #foodgasm). Promoting the shit out of their latest blog post. Complaining about the weather. Arguing about “lady Doritos”. Calling each other Nazis.
Seriously. There’s nothing to see here.
5. But you can’t escape social media forever
Some people bravely delete all their social media apps from their phones, but I’m never going to be one of those people. Social media is part of my job. In fact, while I was going through my personal social media break, I was writing a 10,000 word social media strategy for my employer. I may not have been checking Facebook, but I was definitely thinking about it.
And, if I’m honest, part of me missed the daily chat in my Twitter DM inbox and Facebook groups. Social media has connected me to some of my closest friends, and I’ll always be grateful to it for that. But it’s also a bit of a time-sucking bastard, and I’m determined not to let it steal my focus.
Here’s to more mindful social media usage. To reading (and writing) more. To phone-free, wine-filled nights with friends.