For the past couple of months, I’ve been “off” social media. It started as a give-something-up-for-Lent thing and thus far, it’s continuing. I’ve been trying this for a few reasons, but primarily to curb my procrastinating and reduce my anxiety. The results have been interesting – and not what you might expect.
When I say off I actually mean “off”
If you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you’ll notice that I’ve not actually deleted them or stopped posting. So in that sense, I’m not completely “off”. But I have deleted my social media apps from my phone and logged out of my accounts, so I can’t just absently go into them without thinking. I use Buffer to post, something I do anyway but usually just to schedule them in. Now I post even immediate shares via Buffer so I don’t accidentally fall down the scrolling hole. In practical terms, I just can’t remove my feeds entirely. I use them to share blog posts, promote my books, and connect with fellow writers. So, unfortunately, the temptation to peek remains and sometimes I’ll admit I have caved. There’s a reason these networks have been so successful and part of that is their addictive nature.
There are plenty of other ways to procrastinate
I had hoped coming off social media like this, would have lead to me writing more. But writers will find many ways not to write (physically anyway, we write a lot in our heads and then struggle to get it on paper). And unfortunately, there’s still TV, video games, magazines, book and well, the rest of the internet. I find plenty of other sites on which to fritter away my time and avoid doing things like er, writing. So my anxiety finds other places to feed and has not yet reduced as much as I’d like. The next step would be to stop ‘surfing the ‘net’ completely of course. But that could be one step too far. What I’m going to try instead is to find better ways to procrastinate with colouring books, papercraft, cross-stitch etc so at least I’m being creative even if I’m not writing!
It’s surprisingly easy to get out of the loop
One of the good things about social media (and yes there are some), is it connects you with people you don’t see day-to-day. You can keep up to date with bits and pieces in their lives from what they post. But if you’re not looking at your feed every day, you can quickly lose track of things and feel a bit of an outsider. And yes before you say it, it would be great if I could talk to people to keep up to date, but the reality is neither I nor they necessarily have the time to do that. That’s where these titbits about a new job, engagement, or photos from a recent party really come in handy.
I’m not sure if I’ll continue to keep my channels at arms length. It’s hard to engage with people I follow without scrolling through and commenting on posts. Equally, I do feel like I do feel a bit better emerging from the bubble. The ideal would be to be able to cut down my use rather than cut out entirely. But anyone who’s tried that before will know it’s not easy; “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in!”
Have you ever tried coming off social media or cutting down on your internet use? Let me know your experiences in the comments?