The world didn’t end. Nobody hated me. Nobody forgot me.
Why would these thoughts be recent revelations to me?
Because last month I took a scary leap: I took a step away from social media for a weekend. I was so afraid my world would fall apart. What if someone messaged me? What if someone commented on a picture? What if I wanted to post something? What if I missed my friend’s post?
Hi, my name is Jessie and I am a recovering social media addict.
While these worries seem small in the grand scheme of things, to me they felt real. I was afraid that I would be missing out which would eventually lead to being left out.
I know social media doesn’t wield the same power over everyone’s heads. For some, they have never created an account. Others get on every so often to check up on family. Many get on every day. For a few of us, we use it like a lifeline.
Our social media profiles can become platforms for us to artificially connect with others and disconnect from what’s right in front of us. We search for instant validation from others. We find a sort-of-solace on our devices.
As someone who has always struggled with people pleasing and performing – my social media platforms make a great stage. I can send someone a message to let him or her know I am thinking of them, comment on a photo, and keep up to date with my peoples’ lives. These are all good things, but when it’s paired with anxiety that says, “If you don’t keep up, you will lose your people” you know its time to reevaluate.
So I did.
I decided to try something risky. I disconnected for a weekend. The first few hours were difficult not to check, but by the end of day one I felt like I could breath again. By the time Monday came, I forgot to sign back on. But once I did, I laughed. Because this is what I learned: the world didn’t end, I still had my friends, and nobody forgot about me. I spent a lot of face time with my family and friends that I met up with. I felt like my mind settled into one place at one time. I spent time looking up at the ceiling (because normally I would look at my phone). And I was okay. Actually, I was great and I felt free.
Quickly, social-media-free-weekends have become a habit and something I look forward to. If, like me, you could attend a meeting for social media addicts, I have some baby steps for you below to find freedom from your phone:
(1) Move your social media apps.
Take your social media apps and move them to the last screen of your phone. Then, make a folder with a reminder to be intentional about being on social media. My folder is titled “Be intentional” and it always reminds me not to avoid what is in front of me by checking Facebook.
(2) Put your phone in a different room when you are home.
Instead of keeping your phone in your pocket or sitting next to you, leave it on a shelf or a room nearby. If you are expecting a phone call, turn the ringer up. Otherwise, keep it away from being easily accessible.
(3) Set “social media hours.”
Set time that you are allowed to check your social media updates and times that you are not. For me, every day at 4pm I sign off. This is the time that my whole family is together and I don’t want to miss it. I also leave my phone in my purse during dates with my husband and one-on-one time with my kids.
(4) Take a day off.
Consider taking a day without checking your social media accounts. You may need to delete the apps off your phone, but you can always download them again later. Take note of what your day feels like. Write about it.
(5) Take a social media free weekend.
That’s right. Sign off Friday evening and don’t get back on till Monday. When you feel the itch to get back on, go for a walk, laugh with a friend, look at your kids, or look at the ceiling. Again, notice how it feels to disconnect and consider writing about it. Keep noticing.
The biggest gift I have received from taking hold of my social media addiction are the people I have noticed. I notice the way my kids share a toy with each other or pause to say “I love you” while they play with a friend. I notice the way my husband smiles as he talks on the phone. The woman needing help in the parking lot catches my eye and my time. The grocery checker fills me in on her day. Mostly, I notice more because God has less to compete with to get my attention. And I want to keep it that way. You can too.
If this is right up your alley and you would love to live a life of intentions and presence – join us for our monthly community group: Progress Over Perfection. We meet the second Thursday of the month, 11am – 12pm. Our next meeting is March 9th.