Saturday, 25 March 2017

Life Outside the Little Squares

Recently I temporarily disabled my social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram. I love keeping up with friends and family and venting posting about the girls' daily antics but I'm probably not the first mom to say I've been reaching for my phone to get through my week. 

This disconnect isn't a holy fasting for Lent or a cry for help. I just decided that I needed a little break from the scrolling.

Oh the scrolling.

For me, Facebook is one thing but Instagram is a whole 'nuther world where non-stop images bombard the bored and ebb away the moments between tasks and trials. Even as an outspoken proponent of real life transparency and connection, social media has been affecting my time and mood and I figured I could use a time-out.

It's been about a week and here are my observations so far:

1. Checking these apps is an integral habit in my day. 

In the morning, my hands wander to my phone at the breakfast table. When the girls go down for a quiet time after lunch, I reach for a device. I've had to figure out what to do to bridge the gap. Turn on music? Read the news? Grab a book? It's a little disorienting, like when you've rearranged a room and you try to sit on a couch that no longer possesses that space. It's not BAD, it's just a little weird. 

2. It's quiet. 

Not reading and viewing the daily murmur of people's every day lives (and not publicly sharing my own) meant that things got a lot quieter, both on my phone and in my mind. 

I'm a filler of space. If I'm sad or bored, I fill myself with food. If I'm lonely or unsure, I fill my mind with social media. When I stopped checking Facebook or Instagram, I found myself searching for something else to read, to view.  And, instead of filling up "socially" with friends second-hand through their online content, I had to go to the source. Removing these feeds made me sit down and contact several friends this week.

Which leads to the next point...

3. It's a little lonely.

I miss commenting and engaging with friends and family. I want to share the poignant, brilliant articles that have touched me this week and I can't. I want to post the moments from our little life. I want to see the cute photos of my niece and the creative fun outings and escapades of other moms. I don't want to miss birthdays or events that seem to only be celebrated or promoted in cyberspace.

4. It's kind of a relief.

Ever felt like you have to be somewhere and then it turns out you don't? That's what shutting down these two giant streams of social media has felt like for me. I'm not running this show. If I don't post about it, my life still happens (and probably, yours too)

I began my public online presence as some sort of marketing tool for my blog but since I've made a conscious decision to back away from monetizing this space, does it matter if these words are read 25 times or 2500 times or even read at all? 

Nope. It really doesn't. 

It's okay to exist and express myself without clamoring for some sort of reaction. It's nice to talk it out without comparing my experience to 19 other articles on whatever the current hot topics are in self-help, parenting and the news. 

I think for me, the hardest part is dealing with whatever I've been stuffing down and numbing. The hardest part is not filling the quiet with more noise. The hardest part isn't life outside of the filtered square, it's dealing with myself in the life outside the filtered square.

So, nope. I haven't unfriended you. My hermit status is yet unverified. I'm just on a bit of a time-out. I'm not burying my head in the sand. I'm just tired of examining everyone's sand castles and maybe it's time to shake off the sand all together and go for a swim.

For my thoughts after my social media break, click here.

Have you ever shut down social media for a time? 

What voices in your life have you quieted? 

How did you identify them and what changes did you make?

I'd love to hear about your experience and any tips you might have! 

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