Intentionality: what one month of no social media did for me

As I reflect on my Instagram & Facebook free December (and yes, if Reddit is your vice than that’d count too), I can’t help but want to delete the apps again. The break was that good. Here are some takeaways to what not scrolling and double tapping did for me:

  • I engaged with my colleagues more. I work in a job where I’m constantly around people. As an outgoing introvert, I don’t necessarily go out of my way to spark up a conversation. But given that I wasn’t using my phone as a distraction during downtime, I found myself engaging more with those around me. And it was great. I felt like I was having more meaningful conversations and simply got to know someone better than if I was only half listening while absentmindedly scrolling into that Bermuda Triangle we all know so well.
  • I read more books. I’ve always yearned to read more. But it wasn’t a huge priority. Well, it certainly became much easier to do once I opened my options by shutting off social media. I instead reached for a book or pulled up an article that I had been meaning to read. The internet is an endless source of information. The possibilities of educating oneself amazes me. Yet most of us so easily dismiss this opportunity for growth by instead pulling up our insta feeds or scouring through reddit to come across the next entertaining snippet of information.
  • My workouts became more efficient. By not having notifications, I was less inclined to pull out my phone. I no longer browsed between sets or while walking to the next machine. Saved me time, and kept me focused at the gym.
  • My apartment became cleaner. Not magically, but because I spent more free time organizing and tidying up. I wasn’t letting 10 min here and there add up. I didn’t fall into that social media hole once I hit the couch.
  • Mindful eating became so much easier. Without the distraction of my phone, I was able to enjoy my food to its fullest, and listen to my body when it was full. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we are eating or how quickly when we are distracted from our phones.
  • I missed out on the latest or trending posts that everyone had seen. But it was okay. I survived. Anything buzz-worthy enough was shown to me eventually by one of my friends or coworkers.
  • I realized how much I didn’t need it. Yes, the first few days my fingers would hover over that space where that shiny pink square used to lay. I realized I was on auto pilot. But once that subsided after a couple of days, I didn’t miss the need to craft the perfect post, craft a clever caption, or provide an update on my whereabouts.
  • It gave me time to reflect on what I want to get out of social media vs what I was getting out of it. No more comparisons, no more agonizing over the time of day to post, no more stressing about when my last story was. All that useless time was now gifted back to me. Now I choose what I want to do with it.

I know you’re probably thinking that I was vying for attention, popularity or acceptance. And I wasn’t- at least not consciously. I believe what it boils down to is our natural human desire to connect. Something that was meant to bring us closer than ever before has isolated each one of us under the facade of double taps and hearts.

In regards to my blog, Rocky on the Run is a creative outlet for myself. I genuinely enjoy creating and writing, despite the lack of time I’ve put into it; if I have a nugget of information someone else finds useful then even better. Ideally I’d love to make just enough money to pay for the annual hosting fees to run the website. But in order to grow the site and gain enough of a following, I saw Instagram as the platform to do so. So I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t care about growth.

But at what cost? No longer is the cost my time, energy and peace of mind. Nor should it be yours. What growth or value are you actually getting from these platforms? I think that’s the question we should all be asking ourselves. Of course there’s nothing wrong with staying up to date on our favorite accounts, or keeping in touch with close friends & family. It’s more-so the downward spiral of indifference or irrelevance that we should be actively trying to avoid.

Each one of us has various reasons for social media use. For me, I love Instagram’s ability to research locations I want to explore, follow my favorite teams, or keep up with a few bloggers for sustainable products and plant-based recipes. The Girls Love Travel Facebook group is an endless travel resource for me too. But passing time is no longer a reason. I’ve found so much more value looking elsewhere.

So bottom line, yes those apps are back on my phone. But now I use them with intention. I am deliberate about what I’m searching for or who’s update I actually want to watch. I am consciously asking myself, “Am I getting value out of this?” or “Does this bring me joy?” When the answer is no, well then, I end up closing the app and get on with my life.

I have a couple of resources that really inspired me to do this “digital sabbatical” that might be of value to you too.

Episode 2 “Technology” by one of my favorite podcasts, The Minimalists: https://open.spotify.com/episode/48q0aBExJXwoeVL8LuvApU

Short essay on being present by Leo Babauta: https://zenhabits.net/39th/

Maybe you feel like taking a break yourself. If you do, I promise you won’t regret it.

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