Its been 7 days since I stepped away from social media.
Ive never been gone this long.
Just typing that feels silly. “Gone this long”? Like its some sort of long lost home?
I have had social media for my entire adult life. When I was a teenager, it was MySpace, AOL and ICQ chat rooms. We were all so cool. But that was on a hardwired computer with, hello, dial up internet. My friends and I would have to set up chat times so that we could all chat together. Otherwise we ended up in random chatrooms finding new friends.
The internet was smaller – and less powerful – back then.
But I met my first husband online. Long before online dating was a thing. He was a friend of a friend of my cousin and we chatted for hundreds of hours. Then he would call (on my landline phone) and we would talk for hundreds of hours more. He lived 8 hours away.
I have set my entire adult life around online friendships. Almost every single morning for 36 years has seen me jumping online while eating breakfast – first at a desktop computer and more recently on a smart phone.
I literally do not know what it looks like to “adult” without social media.
Even worse, I don’t know what it looks like TO PARENT without social media. What did people do before? Mail pictures once a year? What if you needed to know what to do about your first baby’s 101.5° temperature. Did you call someone? Read a book?
As silly as it sounds, I honestly don’t know. Ive never raised kids in that world.
As a teenager, I remember a lot of time in libraries. I think we even owned one of those massive encyclopedia sets. I certainly remember my mom bringing home a new cookbook every month – I suppose that’s what you did before Pinterest.
So this week was… weird. I found myself bored. BORED. I haven’t been bored in at least 10 years. I had quite forgotten what bored felt like.
I started working on a puzzle.
I’ve finished three books.
I’ve played with my kids more.
I’ve gone to sleep faster.
I’ve felt less anxious and overwhelmed.
I have still used my phone – a lot. To check my bank account, take pictures, get directions, check email, and to be honest, this entire post was written on my phone’s notepad.
But I haven’t been on social media.
I’ve missed sharing things – like a parenting article I came across or the pictures of my kids at the pumpkin patch. I’ve missed seeing what my friends are up to, especially when my husband tells me what someone did or said. There have been many days where I have felt isolated and left out.
But I have not missed the endless scrolling. The never-ending feeds of Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest. The feeling of never being finished. Of wanting to see “just one more” post. And when I finally say “enough” and close the app, I wonder what I missed by not scrolling further.
Its an interesting beast – social media. We didn’t miss it before we had it but now we don’t know how to live without it. Almost as if we suddenly went without cars and had to walk places – something humans have done since the beginning of time and yet I’m sure we all would feel we would perish.
Life is so complicated. So complex. And so good.
Hot, running water, cars, TVs, grocery stores full of never ending food. Things we value and appreciate but add to the complexity of life.
Is it an even trade?
In reading “The Island of the Blue Dolphins” I was struck by one chapter that mentions the natives of this island being entirely bored in the winter with nothing to do because they had already gathered all their food for the winter and there was no work to be done. What was that like? Weeks or months of nothing to do?
No grocery store trips, no school parties, no dusting, no toilets to clean, no job to work to pay the bills.
Its the epitome of “Simplicity”.
And maybe we’ll never get back to those sort of basics, but I think they can teach us a lesson. A lesson is how more is not always best. More pictures, more stories, more quotes, more information, more overload.
Maybe to be our best, we must consider scaling it back farther than we even thought possible.
Ive never thought I spent “too much time” on social media. I never thought it affected me that much. I always just accepted its (ever growing) presence as part of life.
Until last week.
And the peace I have felt this week is inexplicable. I cant go back to the way things were. I’ll come back to social media but with restrictions. Probably no Facebook app. Self imposed time limits. I’m going to follow considerably fewer accounts.
Because I now believe that humans were never meant to live this way. Being “turned on” 24/7.
And maybe this path isn’t for you now. Maybe you think this is all crazy talk. I know I have thought that before. I thought people who said these things were over-dramatic – or maybe even weak! But now I know. They reached a point of no return. A point of desperation. A point where something had to give. I get it now. I understand.
I am excited to see how these new limits and thought process will affect my life. And hopefully I don’t slip back down the slippery slope of social media and end up enveloped like I was before.