For many, the thought of being cut off from their beloved social media sites may seem like a clip from a horror movie; anxiety may begin to settle in, fear of the “you-aren’t-connected” monster may be felt, and serious withdrawal symptoms may be experienced. Is it possible to live without knowing what your best friend ate for breakfast? What will you do when you go to the bathroom and there aren’t any “updates” to browse through? And how in the world will you be reminded of the millions of birthdays that you are now aware of? Some of which belong to people that you haven’t talked with in years, but that you somehow feel compelled to wish a “happy birthday” to.
What if, just for once in your life, you could experience and savor the quietness of your mind? Have time to gather your thoughts before letting others’ thoughts take hold of your own? What if you did have the courage to live without being “connected” and still feel that you are a part of something greater? You can.
I left the “social media scene” in 2011 and was on sabbatical for three years. Really, no Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or any other social media for me for three whole years (except for perhaps Pinterest because of the amazing cooking recipes). Here is what I learned from that social media hiatus:
1. You miss it for a few weeks and then you move on
Yes, you will feel withdrawals; you will experience separation anxiety; you will feel out of place; and you will get over it. Like any breakup, it hurts, you miss it, but you move on. The great thing about this breakup is that you have the upper-hand because you ended the relationship. Sure, Facebook will send you a million e-mails telling you to rethink the relationship, and then in a moment of bitterness it will coldly remind you that your account will be closed forever if you don’t log in within a certain period of time; and maybe you will feel compelled to go back. But don’t. Going back with an ex after a breakup is never a good idea anyway.
2. You feel proud and excited of the newly found free time
What will you do with all this extra time on your hands? Oh, the possibilities are endless. You can actually pick up the phone, call friends and “catch-up” like the world has done for thousands of years; through verbal communication. You can read a book and not someone else’s thoughts on it. You can wake up in the middle of the night and actually count sheep instead of obsessively refreshing your screen to see if anyone commented on your new profile picture. You will learn that the sky is the limit for your newly found free time.
3. You learn that the problem with your lack of time is not social media
I don’t know how to put this kindly so I will just put it: it’s not the social media – it’s you. You don’t have time to do anything; you haven’t studied for finals, worked on your end-of-year report; written that book you’ve though about writing for the past five years; and you certainly haven’t had the time to sit quietly and be thankful for your blessings. The lack of drive for actually accomplishing what you want to do is the reason for your lack of time, not the amount of time spent on social media. The truth is that if you are busy living life to the fullest, you will know when it is time to shutdown the computer or the phone and focus on what matters without “disconnecting” yourself for good.
4. You never over-share ever again
After being “disconnected” for a while, plugging yourself back into the social media world can come as a shock. All of the sudden pictures that you may have been OK posting in the past seem too much for the world to see. The love and hate confessions that you once felt compelled to share with the world are definitely not something that you ever want to recreate again. You come back and are shocked to see how little vulnerability is worth these days. Somehow, during your “disconnection” time, you become wiser. You now know there is no need to over-share, you can just simply “share.”
5. You incorporate the word balance into your life
Extremes are never good. Sometimes our society tends to be an all-or-nothing kind of place and the thought of balance may feel like an uphill battle. Disconnecting yourself from social media will teach you that the most fulfilling life is not one that shuts off the world or one that over-shares everything with the world. Instead, it is one where you are free to be yourself, think your thoughts, and know when to say “that’s enough for today.”
Featured photo credit: Free for commercial use / No attribution required via pixabay.com