I’m doing a series of posts this month documenting my journey to start exploring a minimalist lifestyle. MinimalisMay will explore what minimalism means to me and how I’m incorporating it into my life. And it’s all from a novice’s perspective, so there will be a lot of learning as I go!
Last week, I wrote about the different types of “clutter” that appear in our lives, beyond the obvious physical stuff that usually comes to mind when we think about decluttering and minimalism. I explained that the these other types of clutter are just as important (if not more so) than physical clutter and that I don’t think physical stuff is my biggest source of clutter.
Whenever I think about the things that weigh me down and stand in the way of living a minimalist lifestyle, the first thing that comes to mind is social media and all the mindless information I consume on the internet.
To be candid here, I think a lot of us are in denial about how addicted we are to social media. It seems so harmless – I’m just checking real quick to see this one thing – but I bet we would all be shocked to learn the actual amount of time in minutes, hours and days we spend staring at our screens, scrolling through feeds, looking for nothing in particular.
And this bothers me. Not because there is anything wrong with social media, but because I am wasting the one resource I can never get back – my time.
If someone were to tally up how much time I actually spend on social media per day, week, month…my first thought (other than sheer horror) would be, how else could I have been spending that time? What could I have been doing instead that would actually contribute to my goals and dreams and the life I want for myself?
The point here isn’t to be all “DOWN WITH THE INTERNETS!!11!”; I’m actually trying to approach this from a more practical level and ask myself “where can I make some cuts and eliminate some ‘dead weight’ to simplify my social media usage?”
I’m in the process of making my Summer Bucket List, even though I still have about a month to go on my Spring Bucket List. Spoiler alert: one of the things that I’m 99% sure will be on the summer list is a digital detox in July, which will mean no Facebook, no Insta, and maybe even no blogging for the whole month.
I did this two years ago as part of my Year of Living Without, and I loved it. My no-Facebook month was hands-down my favorite part of that project. The month was July, hence the reason I want to do July again. July 2014 was full of awesome summery goodness and the time without FB flew by; summer is the time of year when there is so much going on and I have no excuse not to get out, unplug, and live.
Yesterday as I was waiting for the bus, the thought hit me like a sack of potatoes: why not just give it up completely?
Facebook…isn’t want it used to be, guys. It seems that the more interesting content is gradually moving to other platforms, reducing the ol’ royal blue and white screen to a social media junkyard of comments sections and overshared memes/articles and other mass-generated content. I’ve noticed that fewer and fewer people seem to be using Facebook to share personal updates and connections – they just share third-party stuff. And this is to say nothing of the abomination that is the “trending topics” feature.
And I don’t even use it that much. 99% of what I post on Facebook is from my Instagram account or this blog anyway. And it seems like fewer people in my network read or pay attention to it. My Insta pics get some feedback, but there are crickets chirping when I share my blog posts. I don’t take it personally because, to be perfectly honest, the feeling is mutual lately.
Facebook doesn’t make me happy. It makes me unhappy. I don’t feel like I get anything out of it anymore, and yet, I still find myself wasting time on there. If it’s such a time suck and makes me feel so “blah”…what’s stopping me from just cutting the cord already?
The same thing that stops us from getting rid of clothes we don’t wear or walking away from unfulfilling friendships – fear of the unknown. What if I want to wear it again? What if I need it later? What if I’m just not trying hard enough to get into that person’s life? What if what if what if what if
When I think about quitting Facebook, my hesitations sound like this:
What about the events that are organized through Facebook that I might miss out on?
What about the people I would lose touch with since Facebook is the only platform we can connect on?
What about people who may want to get in touch with me but can’t find me?
Oh and what about…actually, you know what, that’s pretty much it. So what’s stopping me?
There are actually very, very few events I’ve been interested in that I need Facebook to be in the loop for (ah, the perks of being an introvert, lol). Most of them have either had a corresponding email component, OR Kevin is also invited so I can stay in the loop through him.
For the people I would miss being in touch with, I can reach out to them personally and ask for email or phone numbers. Or in some cases, I could just…let go. While there are people from my past I enjoy following on Facebook, I wouldn’t say we really keep in touch to the point where we would miss each other.
I think if two people want or need to find each other that badly, they will find a way to make it happen. We may be social media addicts, but we’re not idiots. I’m not that hard to find. My friends and family are all on Facebook, I have a blog and an Instagram, and my email is my first initial and last name (so is my Insta handle). I’m far from being “off the grid.”
There’s always the possibility of missing out on a connection when you walk away from something. But maybe it’s worth it? Should I really stay on a social media platform I don’t like because I’m holding my breath for some unbelievable connection or experience that is probably just not going to happen? Life doesn’t happen in our “what if’s”, guys – life is what’s happening RIGHT NOW. And RIGHT NOW I feel like I am missing out on a lot of life by using social media to distract myself from it.
I suppose it sounds like I’ve made a decision, but, I’m still chewing on it. I’ll hang around for a while and as my July detox approaches, I’ll think about whether I want to make some of those changes permanent.
In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts:
Have you ever done a digital detox or social media break? How did it go?
Which social media platforms do you use?
I’m on Facebook, this blog, and Instagram. I used to have Twitter but I deleted it last year because I NEVER used it and none of my friends were on it.