I don’t know about you but this is my first global pandemic. Annnddd…. I’d be totally fine if we never, ever had to experience this again.
I don’t want to gloss over the serious nature of the events gripping our world right now. It weighs heavy on my mind and heart. Yet as the panic began to ease up a bit this Spring, it created the chance for meaningful conversations with friends that we might not normally make time for. Friends began sharing about their personal ‘silver-linings’, or the smaller, more nuanced lessons they were learning about themselves and their priorities for life during this time of turmoil.
Some of the lessons I’ve learned seem to be universal; Don’t get low on TP, working from home has a distinct converse relationship to personal hygiene and 20 seconds is a really, really long time to wash your hands. Also fascinating to me? Most of us hadn’t really EVER been washing our hands correctly anyway. Who knew?
I had my own story about personal growth. This crisis handed me a much needed reset. I went from complaining or rejoicing or chasing after the mundane and relatively trivial in the day-to-day to caring deeply that I had a roof over my head, a job, and no one I knew was sick. Period. That was the extent of my focus.
Conversations went from ‘I don’t like the color of the new Hoka running shoes and downtown parking is nutso….’ to ‘Are your family and friends safe? Do you still have your job?’ And then taking the time to really listen to the answers.
A conversation in April with a good friend crystalized and cemented what I’d been noodling for a few weeks: social media was an increasingly toxic element in my world. I was as addicted to the dopamine hit and validation that come with ‘likes’ as the next person. Yet I could see that I had reached a point of consistently looking at a post and being able to answer ‘did this enrich my life and inform me of something worth knowing?’ with a rapid, flat ‘nope’.
I hit social media to escape the real world and suddenly internet-misery and anger and half-truths were morphing into the real world for me. I would quote ‘some random friend on Facebook’ as a given expert. I found myself endlessly comparing myself to and judging others. Two of the things I don’t like to engage in at all, ever, were becoming all-consuming end-games on social media for me.
I would scroll and judge. I would scroll and feel like a steaming pile of crap. I would scroll and be irritated or upset or find myself unfollowing people for their posts… Rarely would I scroll and feel happy, smart or enlightened.
Sound familiar at all?
As I scrolled I would think: ‘They’ are doing way better at staying active and fit and they don’t have to battle their weight. That’s really what ‘they’ think science is all about? ‘They’ are sure acting self-righteous in their blanket pandemic-shaming of others without knowing the situation or abilities or problems others face. ‘They’re’ whiny. ‘They’ aren’t even taking a moment to acknowledge the suffering consuming the world around them…. Throw in a daily smattering of random posts covering pandemic-shaming, racism, judgement, fat-shaming and political pandering and you have….
PUSH THE RESET BUTTON NOW.
The part of me that wants to assume the best in people would start showing up when I was NOT scrolling… Who the hell am I to judge anyone for anything? Everyone is doing their very best to hang on and BE who they are in the middle of this chaos. Survival and thriving and getting-by sure looks very, very different for everyone.
You get the brutally ugly idea.
The inside of my head wasn’t the place I wanted it to be when I was scrolling.
Ugh. ‘THEY’ were driving me crazy. And with something ridiculous like 4,000 FB ‘friends’ I don’t even know who most of ‘they’ are! I was comparing and judging and feeling snarky and in many cases with people I do not even know in real life.
Give me a break. That’s not me. That’s not how I want to show up in this world. Social media was hardening my heart, numbing my brain and forcing thoughts to the front of my mind that just didn’t ring true.
And – light bulb! – I actually have a whole lot of control over that input. I needed to practice feeding my brain better experiences and information. I started with pulling the plug on social media interactions and to see if that worked…
I deleted the apps about 5 weeks ago.
The first day or two without FaceBook/Instagram/Twitter were admittedly odd — simply for missing the habit of scrolling or using the phone to fill gaps of silence/boredom. Very quickly I figured out that I missed the HABIT, not the content. With that breathe of knowledge – I knew I’d made the right decision.
It’s been…Glorious. So freeing to be disconnected from the artificial and not-always-so-nice world of social media and yet be more intentionally connected to the voices and hearts of the people in my real world.
I’m not sure when I’ll be back on social media platforms. When and if I do come back, it will be with a simple plan to keep social media as a time-appropriate and mildly entertaining distraction. I don’t make a living on social media and most of the folks who need to find me can easily connect to me in other ways. I have the luxury of choice. And I’m exercising it.
What has my unplugging from social media done for me? Here’s what I’ve observed so far: I am comparing less. Finding more in life to simply enjoy. Less distracted. More connected. More sure of myself. Listening more intently and hearing a whole lot more than just what’s being said. More satisfied with my own life.
Your turn: Have you taken a break from social media? What did you learn? I’d genuinely enjoy hearing what others are experiencing or ways you’ve found to enjoy social media instead of reacting to it… Please reply or leave comments on this blog. Given my hiatus from social media, I’m not likely to see your comments or thoughts otherwise!