Saturday, March 4, 2017

Social Media Break

A couple weeks ago I deactivated my Facebook account.  Some people were curious why and a couple even reached out asking me to rethink my decision because there, like here, I attempt to be both honest as well as positive when presenting idea's and opinions.  I'm not always successful and at times negativity will flow from brain to fingertips but in recent years it's become more and more a rarity that I allow it to happen. However, there came a point a couple weekends ago where I suddenly realized that the negativity from everyone else was getting to me in an unhealthy manner and it was not just affecting me but I also felt like it was leaching into my real life. Disturbed by the revelation it was clear there was only one course of action; an immediate break. That was nearly two weeks ago.

As I write this now, life without social media is getting easier and easier.  I won't lie, the first couple days were weird.  It has become readily apparent to me just how much I'd been using it.  For the first three days plus I kept picking up my phone without thinking about it simply to scan.  There was no app because I deleted it off my phone (and probably won't re-add it even after I reactivate) so I'd stare at my phone for a moment or load up ESPN or the news to see if anything had changed.  Of course, it hadn't because contrary to what our social media feeds tell us, actual news doesn't tend to change all the fast (except for the NBA trade deadline.  Information was coming out every few minutes, or so it seemed).  Now that I have some time away I'm not doing that nearly as much but what an awakening this has provided.  Life in general doesn't seem nearly as negative as it did.  I have no idea what's going on with a whole lot of people's lives which is unfortunate because I really do enjoy being able to keep up with people in such an easy format but I don't regret my decision.  On the contrary, not only am I unsure when I may reactivate, but earlier this week I was faced the possibility of needing to get back on for professional reasons and it actually stressed me out. Clearly, the break was more needed than I'd realized.

Social media allows many things.  It can make us believe our voice is bigger than it is or make us feel like our voice is too small to ever matter.   It can allow us to share our opinions, our positivity, our negativity.  It's proven over and over again that, "it's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're an idiot than open it (or post to the world) and prove it."  It's allowed those we would not have otherwise known exist, to share profound thoughts, ideas, and education, while permitting others to use it as a mode of transmitting hate, ignorance, and stupidity.  It has created a means of proliferating information that I'm unsure humans were and are ready for at this time.  It's something I'd felt before but not nearly to the degree that I did a week ago.  That I had so much information available there was no way I could process everything and it was indeed beginning to slow me down; like an old computer who's memory has filled to the point where it still works, but even the simplest of tasks are slowed to the point of being nearly useless.

Learning the Old School Way
So now I'm on reset of sorts.  I find myself not only getting more accomplished but also feel like I'm actually learning more.  In the past two weeks I've read or finished reading 5 books, which both puts a good dent in my 25 book year end goal as well as providing some needed education without so many distractions.  I've read actual articles rather than simply skimming and reading comments (some of which I do miss because while comment sections can be the definition of hell, occasionally there are some great discussions that provide a wealth of information and "rabbit hole" links).  I've made some phone calls and talked with people rather than simply relying on text or messenger (which come to find out you don't lose just because you deactivate from FB.  Who knew?)  I've done a little writing but not enough but I'm still not as stressed as I could or perhaps should be because I've been using the time to accomplish actual tasks not simply scrolling.  No, thus far I do not regret my decision to unplug.

Eventually I'll get back on.  In reality, not only will I likely reactivate but I'm likely to add additional social media accounts because in order to achieve some future goals, it will be a business requirement.  However, what I'm seeing and hope that I can hold onto going forward is the separation from life and social media. Looking at the situation from 10,000 feet, so to speak, I can see that my overuse began years ago as a way to fill a void but while it may have seemed like I was connecting with people, over time it was actually having to opposite effect.  As I mentioned above, that is not to say that there are not positive things about social media because there absolutely are.  But if one is not careful, it can metastasize and without even realizing it, it's caused unforeseen damage.  I'm not saying a break is a necessity for everyone, but every so often take a moment to review your usage.  Think about whether it's positively impacting your life or whether it's become nothing more than a habit or addiction.  Like a diet, exercise regime, or household budget, reviewing and adjusting actions based on what you find never hurts and will be beneficial in the long run.              

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