Unsocial: July

Hiking through the southwestern Wisconsin prairie at Yellowstone Lake State Park, July 9


No Facebook. No Instagram. No blogging. That was the defining feature of my month of July.

I took a semi-detox from digital life for all of last month (I still used email, Strava, and Fitbit which I suppose technically count as social media). I went into it with no real expectations; I just felt like it was something I really wanted and needed to do. I didn’t expect to have my life changed or stumble upon some deep mystical life secret. I just needed a break. My head was starting to hurt from information overload, I was spending way too much time on blogs and Facebook, and even in the e-world my introvert switchboard began to overheat from the constant sound and fury of social life. I just needed to be left alone for a while.

Life isn’t really that different off social media. I found other things on the internet to distract me when I got bored. I read more online news articles to learn what was going on in the world – and I didn’t have to be subject to everyone’s opinions about everything in the meantime. I had great weeks, and I had weeks when I was bored and moody and tired and restless. Just like every other month. Life was the same, it was just quieter.

While nothing earth-shattering happened, not having to keep up with everyone else’s life gave me space to think about mine. When we get so entrenched in our routines and lifestyles it gets hard to see ourselves clearly and objectively, and without all the usual distractions I began to see myself from a different angle.

I saw that I need to slow down. I’ve never been good at the whole “one day at a time” thing. I’ve often thought, actually, that my inability to live in the moment is what attracts me to running. Running gives me the feeling that I can suspend time, an anxiety-soothing illusion that I can rush through life faster and push time along somehow. But once I was away from the blog I realized how forced my writing has felt. I’ve been inadvertently trying to live my life through the blog. I used to think that was just the curse of having an overactive brain and an over-analytical nature. But after time away from the blog I also realized that so much of my blogging reflects my desire to try to dictate my life instead of reflect on it. I’m not sure any of these words will do any real justice to what I’m actually trying to say here. But I’ve returned to the blogging world with a desire to make my writing more organic, more curious, more open. There is a famous rule of thumb for good writing that says, “show, don’t tell.” I’m trying to think about that whenever I write, to make my blog illuminate my life instead of trying to craft it.

At some point I started thinking about how I connect with people and the lack of real friendships that exist in my life (this, I think, is partly an introvert thing – our need for a deeper connection with other people leads us to be a little more selective in who we maintain relationships with). I’m not sure what got me on this train of thought but I started looking at myself and wondering how I can be a better friend to others. It sounds weird to admit this, because you don’t often hear other people admitting to it, but I know that I have a tendency to be a little self-absorbed at times. I don’t think I’m selfish or a jerk by any means…but I don’t always do a very good job of showing interest in other people and putting their feelings before my own. I realized that maybe I should try to ditch the “me first” mentality and show the same interest and enthusiasm for others that I want them to show for me. Besides, let’s face it – pretty much all other people are WAY more interesting than I am, so it would behoove me to get out of my own head and be curious about them.

Next, I’m trying to chill out on all the goal setting and all the projects and all the list-making. I’m trying to stop forcing labels on myself – “minimalist”, “runner in training”, “bookworm”, “down-to-earth millennial”, “super srs writer chick” – and just be me. A random human, not a personality type or an image. It sounds cliche but it’s amazing how often I need to be reminded in life to just be yourself.

And, social media. I’ll leave it at this: I don’t want to quit it entirely, but I do need to go on a diet. You all know I love the Insta, but I’m trying to cut back on my Facebooking. There’s just way too much hot mess going on there and while I don’t want to give it up entirely, I have been actively avoiding it since I came back. It has gotten a lot quieter and more tolerable since I unfollowed like 100 people last month, but that home page is still a hotbed of distractions and exposure to the absolute worst in people. Like my blogging, I’m trying to make my social media usage a little more organic and constructive. Gretchen Rubin famously said in The Happiness Project that “technology is a good servant but a bad master.” I don’t think it’s necessary to quit social media but I’m going to try to use it a little more mindfully. If you’re wondering what, exactly, that means: don’t worry, I don’t really know yet either. Stay tuned.

I’m excited for August. I feel like I say that every month, but August truly brings a change of pace for the first time in months: I’m starting a training cycle so I will have more routine in my life and start getting back in shape, I have the Olympics to distract me and finally – praise all that is holy – we are one month closer to the end of this wretched, miserable thing called “summer”.

But that’s a sour note to end on sooo…here’s another picture from this month of Kevin and me with The Colonel:

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20 thoughts on “Unsocial: July

  1. Great recap! I actually decided to deactivate my Facebook. Last month I was dealing with some anxiety and it affected my sleep, so I decided to get rid of FB and it’s working really well! Sometimes too much social media is not a good thing.

    Welcome back πŸ™‚

    1. I thought really, really hard about deactivating mine once I got back. Life was so nice without it and I was just kind of sick of everyone and wanted to disappear and let them wonder about me. But, ultimately I realized I really just needed a break. I definitely want to cut back on my FBing but I also want to see if I can find a way to use it productively. If I find myself slipping back into old habits I will cancel.

      Good for you deactivating. I’m proud of you. I hope you’ll write a post about how it’s going so far!

  2. Great review- I always find that I read so much more when I dont have a Netflix series on the go- I suppose I should limit my social media (such as setting a “bedtime” rule) but it’s so tough!

    1. It is tough. Personally, I do better with an all-or-nothing approach. I always fail when I try to “limit” or “moderate” something, because it’s just too easy to make excuses to do a little more here and a little more there and then, back on the wagon. The all-or-nothing style eliminates the need to make decisions all the time. I should really read more!!

  3. It sounds like the social media diet was good for you! Facebook is so overwhelming right now with the election. I try not to browse on it more than to look for articles…and I avoid comments sections at all costs right now.

    1. I’m so glad I was away while the conventions were going on. I can’t imagine.

  4. UGH, my FB is obnoxious right now. There are only two things happening on my newsfeed. People getting engaged (hold please while I go stalk their new fiancee) and political rants & articles on how awful candidate X is and how instead we should all vote for candidate Y. And then a series of uneducated comments about POLITICS & STUFF & THINGS AND YOU’RE WRONG & I’M RIGHT! So, I mostly just read things my running group posts. And post random pictures from my hikes.

    1. Haha same here! Yeah, I’m so glad I was off FB when the conventions were going on *shudder*

  5. Welcome back! I missed you! I bought a pair if the Ellen Stripe K-Deers and thought of you. πŸ™‚ Whether it leads to intense revelations or not, a break is always good. I actually deactivated my FB after that one post of yours about it. I was never really on it anyway, though. I’ll probably do a blogging break at some point and will also likely scale back once I get into the thick of training. Here’s to August!

    1. YAY K-DEER! I’m proud of you for deactivating. I really should do the same already. And a blogging break is often a great way to recharge but I would miss you!

  6. Agree 150% I found at one point i was seeking things to do for the purpose of writing about it on the blog. That’s not me!! So I went back to doing what “I” enjoyed and if people found it interesting than cool if not, that’s ok too. Look forward to a more organic read πŸ™‚

    1. I’m the same way. It’s hard not to be when you have a blog because you start thinking of what will get you more comments, what will OTHER people like, etc. Taking a break really helped me sort out what I actually want to write about versus what is just filler stuff.

  7. FB is interesting, some folks put moment by moment on there. I still rarely check it, I mostly post pictures when my Mom calls and asks to see some. I do try to respond to comments if someone leaves me one, but I just have no desire to scroll the TM much. I think a diet in the area is a good thing, it can be exhausting.
    I have the same issue with real life friends, I work with a small staff and we are all pretty different, and I have tried to find running friends locally a few times but have not had much luck. Maybe one day and hopefully I can keep up πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy training kick off! I would be excited about not having to run long distances!

    1. It is hard to make friends as an adult!! I haven’t had much luck with running friends here either. There are some big running groups and the people are really nice, but they are just a little too big and super-social for me. Plus, they often meet on the other side of town and I just don’t have time for that.

  8. I’ve grown pretty tired of facebook. Many of my friends are into really outdoorsy stuff and I often feel like facebook becomes a giant competition to see who can stand on the highest, baddest mountain or who can do the most sketch stuff. Honestly, I find it really annoying and frustrating to see that.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your time off. It’s great to have you back!!

    1. I have to say I find it kind of amusing that outdoorsy people are so competitive on social media. I don’t know why, I guess I would expect that out of everyone they would be the most chill. Just goes to show that FB brings out the worst in everyone, I guess πŸ™‚

  9. I’ve been debating deactivating my Facebook until after the election, but maybe even until after the end of the year. Aside from the fact that Facebook has really screwed up their newsfeed algorithm and most of the stuff showing up is stuff I have zero interest in (so-and-so was mentioned in a post from someone you don’t even know), I feel like right now it’s just a lot of immature “You’re an idiot for supporting Trump”/”You’re an idiot for supporting Hilary!!” I’m all for political discussion when there’s actual depth and substance to it, but it seems like even those that try to do that are attacked with ignorant name calling. I’m kind of over it and tired of all of the negativity so I think I will be deactivating soon…

    1. Honestly, I should have just deactivated. During my hiatus I was pretty much convinced I was going to. LIke, 99.9% sure, let’s pull this trigger. I liked the idea of no one from my past being able to stalk me or know what was going on in my life, and vice versa. Let ’em wonder about me. And then I came back and I got likes on my post and I was like “aww they missed me” and lost my nerve, womp womp. Maybe a bunch of us should make a deactivation pact and all do it together on the same day or something, haha.

  10. It sounds like your time off of social media was really good for your soul. I think goals are great and they can even be a part of who we are, but they definitely shouldn’t define us. I am actually learning to really like the phrase “Be yourself” like you mentioned because it’s so non-specific. We get so caught up in labels and trying to define who we are that it’s important to realize there are so many layers under that that we can’t really describe. Just be you πŸ™‚

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