40 Days Without Social Media
Can there be breaks in the chaos sometimes? Yes, you just have to choose to take a break.
I will start with an AA meeting intro for this one but change the meeting to SMAA (Social Media Addicts Anonymous, pronounced Smaaa-ah, like Smaug but without the -ug).
I, Monica, took a break from social media. It has been 40 days since my last login on Facebook, my last heart-double-tap on Instagram, my last live concert stream on Snapchat. And man, does it feel really good.
The confession you read is true. I literally said, “No more. I need a break, this is too much.” Am I really enjoying this experience or am I just so consumed with posting about it, documenting the moment, and checking to see who likes it?
“Enough,” I said. “I’m done.”
Let me explain…
A lot happened during those 40 days. As the world seemed to be going through a paradigm shift, I too started feeling the pivotal point in which I wanted to take the direction of my life. Let’s begin shall we?
Well, I was overboard on the concerts.
What? No I wasn’t.
I then locked myself in a 3-day pass to ACL. (Literally, like a noob, I wanted to show my friend how small my wrist was, so I pulled it all the way tight…JOKE WAS ON ME, well my left wrist, but still.)
And if that doesn’t make you tired, I had lined up the following week with more concerts.
I was rounding out the week at a Yellowcard concert to satisfy my inner-middle-school-Mon and I was STOKED. So stoked to get everything on Snapchat, that by the third song, the tall (also stoked) homeboy in front of me jumped at the same time, and my phone went flying….to the ground. I thought whatevz…No. It was not a whatevz. My screen was SHATTERED (sorry dad, if you’re reading this…let me save us an argument, you were right…I needed a screen protector, and yes I have one now. Yes, it’s literally on my phone. Don’t worry.)
Now, I’m not talking crack in the pavement shattered, I’m talking mosaic shattered. With the right image as my background, it could’ve been a website header on a church website. The tiny little gravel pieces on the ground were not merciful. So, it finally hit me (yes, it took that moment to realize it, and no I’m not stubborn. What? Who told you that?)
Anyways, it finally hit me. I’m not really living in the present nor do I ever feel at ease. I am just constantly moving and my mind is working so fast. I’m emotionally exhausted, but I’m choosing to ignore it. I’m constantly checking social media to see what happened in the last five seconds, and I’ve grown obsessed with sharing everything with the world. Am I, the person broadcasting, even enjoying this? Long story short, and at a hefty price…I got it fixed before a work trip that Monday.
While on said work trip…
I saw a friend from middle school (see the middle school throwback theme here? Me neither.) I have such fond memories growing up with him, they are stories I still tell. I owe a lot of my love for the arts to him, he opened my eyes to that world and I’ve kept it with me ever since. Anyways, after eight years, we caught up like we had just seen each other.
But, towards the end, I felt this need to take a picture and post it. The need to document that this event actually happened. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted a picture because I missed him, and we realized this was the first time we were drinking together, but why did I feel the blood thirsty need to post it?
Maybe it’s the fear of my loss of memory, but the habit of documentation started to haunt me like the old mosaic screen on my phone. I had lost a good ten minutes of his presence because I was too busy trying to post our picture before I got back to my hotel. I felt disgusted. I realized that I hadn’t seen this person in EIGHT years, and here I was on my phone. WHY? Why are we so obsessed with showing people what we are doing with our lives?
Last but not least…
There might have also been a boy involved. Isn’t there’s always a boy involved?
With some reflection and great conversations with some of my amazing friends, who shared some insight on how they don’t really use social media and live closer to those around them–I had this crazy thought: How about, I take a break from all this constant chaos, and just live? So, when I got back from my work trip, I decided to cut off: Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. This might shock you, but I legit deleted the apps from my phone.
I allowed myself Twitter, because this election. I mean come on, how else was I supposed to be notified of the rapture? And afterwards, how else was I going to be reminded to love each other during tough times? Also, I live tweet my favorite show #JaneTheVirgin, as it is a life goal to get the actors to like and retweet me. I don’t like to brag, but I’m currently #winning at Twitter. And I’m happy to report, my life goal is complete.
I allowed myself Pinterest, because Pinterest is my imagination palace/the deep ocean into my soul/my happy place. It is where the pillars of my personality via Inside Out are housed and stored. There is no Monica without Pinterest (true story).
In the world of advertising and PR that I live in, along with social media being a creative outlet for me, this wasn’t going to be forever or easy for that matter. So I counted out a couple of weeks to my next big thing and it so happened to be 40 days. Go. Figure. I can’t even make this up. Divine intervention perhaps? No doubt. Little did I know, this divine set-up was a call back to peace, but more on that later…
With that said, it’s been quite the journey.
And boy was I tempted. Mainly by Facebook…please see Exhibit A)
Like, wtf? At this point I hadn’t logged in for maybe two weeks? I want to point out here that just like what we do on social media, Facebook was trying to look cool.
In light of the situation, I had a couple of questions for Facebook:
730 photo tags?? Really Facebook? Did my dad suddenly upload all my vacation photos from the past 24 years of my life and tag me in all of them?
Why are people poking me? Is that still a thing? Or was Facebook like, that’s exactly what she’ll think, let’s put that in there. She’ll log back in for the pokes. FOR SURE.
68 notifications! Okay that’s pretty tempting. But in reality, the majority of them are all comment tags from my brother on legit funny shit.
Friend Requests and Messages…Are these from people in remote countries asking to marry me or are they legit people I know?
Go. To. Facebook. Nice call to action button Facebook, I mean it’s pretty direct. But no sorry, I won’t.
The only realistic notifications I had were…
The 1 group invite, the 3 likes on a picture. That my friends, is real life, not cool Facebook life.
Drum Roll Please.
I can honestly say, that I did it. I did not login to Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat for 40 days. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? YES.
I want to give a shout out to my self-control and the ability to choose to discover things about myself in the present that weren’t always perfect.
I also want to give a shout out to my wonderful friends who were so patient with me and actually sent me screenshots of their Snapchats and cool events on Facebook because they knew I’d appreciate the laugh and want to join them. (That’s huge guys.)
Last but not least, shout out to my cradle-Catholic-roots because they might have been one of the reasons I had it in me, to stick through it. #lent What? Yeah, I know.
What I realized along the way:
Growing up, I was never the girl that cared about what people thought about her. I think not caring what people think is still alive and well in me. But for some reason, through the importance of social media, I felt like I lost a part of myself by posting and checking for acceptance. How many likes did this get? Am I positively influencing someone? I hope so. No pressure on this selfie, even though I feel really beautiful today.
Because I was having a year of yes, I felt the need to document it. I was finally living and I was really excited about it. But, I was broadcasting it in the wrong outlet. What I was doing for myself shouldn’t have been put out, where the main drive was, “Hey look how cool my life is.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty cool, maybe the coolest person I know, but in no way should the intention of this very important season in my life be tied to acceptance by others.
Time is a lot slower when you’re living in the present. A week felt like a month. My personal growth propelled into something more than I thought I would get out of this. I was enjoying the moments more. I took myself out on dates (like actual dates, flowers, and all.) I went to concerts and I didn’t use Snapchat (HUGE breakthrough). I started reading and writing. I had real-time conversations with the people I love, and most importantly, I started talking to God more. I got to say, the experience was pretty empowering.
Lovely Life Lesson:
Be present. If you need a break from something that is causing chaos in your life, take a break. There’s no harm in just letting go for a bit, you will start to feel more at peace with yourself along the way.
Spend some time with you, get outside, and read a book; enjoy the moments that happen in real-time. Or, spend some quality time with someone you’ve lost touch with, call them or have a glass of wine together–don’t just like their picture or send them a Snapchat. Right now the world needs real connections, so surround yourself with the friends who lift you up and encourage you. And that my friends, will feel more fulfilling than a Facebook like. (True story.)