At the beginning of January I “outed” myself publicly on Facebook and Instagram by deciding to stop telling the lie: “Oh, I hardly ever go on Facebook…” The reality is I had so much I hadn’t done in months and I found myself wasting a crazy amount of time in the lie: “this video or article will inspire me or will be good research or will inform my coaching or or or …” Don’t even get me started on those inspirational memes…. Meanwhile my list of to-do’s were piling up, I hadn’t written in months, I have so many unread books stacked and falling out of my closet, I “run out of time” to workout pretty much every day, and I was finding myself overwhelmed and disappointed at the end of the day as I kept pushing things I didn’t do to the next day over and over. Ugh. These are things I didn’t want to feel.
A UK study found that people check their phone on average 85 times a day and spend an average of 5 hours a day on their device. That’s a third of your waking day! No wonder I have not been getting anything done. Even if I spend half that time, it’s too much.
I decided to go on a social media detox for a month as an experiment to see what transpires and opens up.
The Preparation – Going Cold Turkey
Day 1 I deleted all the apps from my phone and IPad and shortcuts from my laptop. Was slammed by FOMO (fear of missing out).What if a message comes in, what if someone contacts me regarding coaching them, what if I miss a birthday, what if what if …. I couldn’t believe how much I was checking my phone. It was very ritualistic – put password in phone, check my 3 (!) email accounts, flip through and … “oh right I deleted everything therefore there’s nothing to scroll or check!” I went through this ritual waiting in line at the bank, when stopped at a red light, immediately when I got off the phone with a client, etc etc. I am like a drug addict, swiping and swiping, looking for notifications that are not there. I even carried it around the house with me, to the bathroom, upstairs, downstairs, doing the laundry, nearby when I’m cooking. Seemed like the only time I hid it from view was when I was with a client. Towards the end of the week I intentionally started leaving my phone on a different floor and turned off all notification sounds so I wouldn’t be tempted.
Insights Are Golden
Week 1: There’s this tug for connection, but it’s a false connection because I’m mostly a voyeur online. I look, but seldom interact. I don’t want people to know how much I’m online, plus, likes or comments produce more notifications when others interact in the same post. It’s weird, I’m looking for notifications, but when I see so many notifications, I go into overwhelm. Oh shit, now I have to say something, interact, what do I want to say, should I say something, feels like a lot of work, I’ll come back to it later …. I don’t have anything to say. Ok, that’s BS. I DO have something to say (I think I have my first piece of homework when I get back to social media).
So, did I get anything done on my to-do list? HELL YES I did. I put myself on a schedule and banged it out. It felt great ticking things off my list. This was definitely a “doing” week and I’m ok with that. I’ve been in “being” land for quite some time.
Week 2: I have had this low-grade anxiety upon waking for months, so I decided to replace checking my email first thing in the morning with morning meditation. I usually meditate at night so instead I set up a guided meditation on my Ipad each night to be ready immediately upon waking. I can honestly say I felt less anxiety during the day.
I used to scroll social media while eating breakfast and now without that ritual, I see I’m shovelling food into my mouth at breakneck speed….what the heck’s my rush? I added slowwwww mindful eating to my detox.
New clarity and focus was here for me this week. There’s new vision. A cool idea for a group coaching program has started to form. More to come! I was feeling starved for connection so I met a bunch of people … in person, what a concept. Me happy.
Week 3: Full disclosure … I checked Facebook a few times because a friend emailed me saying she sent me a FB message and I began to wonder what other messages I missed. I just couldn’t help myself…I responded and diverted them to email instead. Once during this little sojourn into Facebook I fell off the wagon and read someone’s excellent post and noticed this little function that said “Seen by 7 people” and when you hover your cursor over it …. IT SHOWS THE NAMES OF THE PEOPLE WHO READ IT! Totally busted.
There were a few occasions where I heard people talking about a viral video on Youtube and I wanted to look at it SO bad, but I held off, as videos are part of my lie. There’s something about watching other people’s videos or reading other people’s posts that I feel will inform me. But here’s the reality, I’m reading other people’s content instead of creating my own content. I’m listening, watching, reading other people’s thoughts and opinions instead of considering what are my own thoughts, opinions, desires. I think this is the root of my creative block. I don’t take enough time to consider what matters to me enough to write about it. Or let’s go deeper…that what I have to say doesn’t matter, other people say it better, blah blah blah…it really is a boring old story. Comparing myself to others bites. I think I can probably stop here. I’ve got what I needed out of this little detox experiment. Ugh.
Despite this, ideas are starting to flow. However, I just can’t seem to figure out how to get these amazing ideas and thoughts from my on-fire brain while I’m on the elliptical at the gym into a journal or computer. Anyone have any ideas???
Feeling more centred, light and playful this week. By not aimlessly floating around my phone, I feel like I have purpose. Still loving ticking things off at the end of the day. And….I’m loving my new tango class!
Week 4+: Monday morning arrived with a momentary blip where all my “shoulds” and “wtf am I doing going off the grid” and “I’m doing this all wrong, missing opportunities to create business” came into play. I spent too much of my morning stressing about detoxing until I realized I replaced wasting time on social media with wasting time stressing about going off social media…..that’s crazy. Then I reminded myself that this experiment has actually worked for me. I actually don’t miss it! While yes, I can be engaging with my tribe and creating community online, right now I’m getting s#*t done! I’ve had many little wins, insights and incremental change this month and it feels great.
So the big thing I’ve been procrastinating about I finally faced this week. My taxes. My body shutters each time I look at that “awful” tax folder sitting on my desk waiting patiently for me to attend to it. I have told myself so many stories that are ridiculous lies, mostly around needing to do it all. Instead, I asked for help this week. A big weight off my back.
What’s this all mean…
It has been an interesting month (more like 6 weeks). The reality is I got a LOT of stuff done and that feels great. And, now I want to find a way to dance with social media in a new way. In my 6th week I gently re-entered the world of social media. I gave some real thought about what boundaries I want to put around social media and here’s what I’m stepping into:
- No social media apps on phone. Put phone away, out of sight, on another floor, away from dinner table, not in bedroom, turn off all notifications, unsubscribe from all newsletters (the ones I never read).
- Make it hard to check social media by having to log-in in order to access.
- Check social media during specific times, stay away from newsfeed, purposefully only check people’s pages/profiles I love the content on (and start to have my voice be heard by interacting).
- No more inspirational videos!
- Block out a solid chunk of time each week where I leave my home office and go somewhere to write and create content, like the library.
- Be really purposeful about what I post on social media (food is not my thing anyway)
- Disconnect from electronics after 10 pm (ok, maybe not texting….)
I didn’t launch any massive project this month, but by getting rid of things in my day that negatively affect my thoughts and mood, I am so much less stressed and happier. These 6 weeks really has been an exercise in being mindful. I’ve created space in order to get clear on how I really want to spend my time, how I want to contribute to this incredible adventurous life, and most importantly, how I want to feel. I’m learning how to let go of the “need to’s and shoulds” and allowing space for the “want to’s” to occupy more space in me.
It’s not that I think social media is bad and should be avoided. I just know for me I was skewed way over on the far end of the spectrum where I was caught in the lies and deception of my social media addiction which led to creation inertia. I can make social media the monster but the real story here is one of choice. Doing nothing is a choice. Hiding is a choice. The real question is: Where and how am I choosing to spend my time?
Quite frankly, I don’t feel a huge desire to re-engage in social media but I’m figuring out how I want to be in relationship with it, both for personal and business connections.
I’m curious if any of you have or are willing to do a social media detox. Would love to hear your insights. Please comment below!