I went a month with no social media. The apps were wiped away from my phone, and I cut myself off from that world cold turkey for 30 days.
Anyone in my close circle might perceive me as one who is on social media less, or even on my phone less than the typical consumer of it in my demographic. They are probably right. I’ve actually been known to receive a text in the evening, and ask the receiver if it would be okay to respond back in full in the morning since I was “done with being on my phone for the day.” I know….a little odd, but at least I’m honest. For my personal Facebook page, other than sharing about my kids, music, glimpses of my faith life, and my love for the grocery store Aldi--- there’s not much there besides that. I take minimal time scrolling looking at friends’ feeds, but I still invest my time in it. I like seeing photos of my friends, students I worked with at the college who are now grown with their own families, or thriving in their field of business. I enjoy catching the latest Trey Kennedy or John Crist video, and reading my brother’s words of wisdom presented through catchy memes. I enjoy seeing other photographers in the biz rocking awesome sessions as well. But, let’s face it--- it’s a time suck. The main reason I wanted to get off of social media was to see what else I could do with the time I give to it. If even to be still and allow time for quiet.
Lately I’ve had a few people ask me how that went. Honest as always, here it goes….
1.) I didn’t miss it.
Well, I mostly didn’t miss it. I had a few conversations in my day to day that referenced posts and in those moments I felt a little out of the loop. A day or so after my son’s birthday I was curious to read up on a scheduled Facebook post to see his birthday wishes—so I admittedly did cheat to see a few of those. That day was my slip up. All in all, it wasn’t hard to stay away from social media and I realized what a time suck it truly is. The key to making it easy, DELETE those apps.
2.) It’s such a time suck!
I know you all know this, but when you step away from social media completely--- you realize even 5 minutes here or 2 minutes there add up. A report from 2017 on socialmediatoday.com shared, the average American spends 2 hours PER DAY on social media! No shame if you are, but for me -- I can’t help but think, if its 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or 3 hours a day—how else could we be spending our time?
You know that report you get about how much time you spend on your phone? Social media can often be the culprit of many of those minutes for sure. If you delete social media apps, you’re still using your phone, but for other things (like talking to someone….gasp!). For me, I was checking email more, my weather app, Amazon shopping of course (curse you Amazon Prime), but mostly I was finding I used my phone for accessing music and my biggest unexpected joy of the summer—audiobooks!
I love a good podcast (shout out to “That Sounds Fun” and one of my favorite authors/podcasters, Annie F. Downs), but found myself consuming audiobooks at a pretty rapid pace during my social media drought. I devoured This is Me by Chrissy Metz of This is Us fandom, discovered Sarah Jakes-- and listened to her life put into the form of the audiobook Lost and Found, dabbled a bit in Rachel Hollis’ latest best seller, and followed Tsh Oxenreider through the streets of Turkey in Notes from a Blue Bike. Consuming books in audio form is now my jam! If your locally library provides access to apps like Hoopla (do yourself a favor and check it out), you’re able to consume audiobooks for free…score!
I love to write more than I love to read, but this break from social media breathed a little time and life into me to do a little of both, even if it was in moderation.
Here's a thought—once you get over the habit of picking up your phone first thing in the morning to scratch the social media itch, you can be liberated! Use that time to EAT BREAKFAST, read, pray, or be on time for work—or for me….closer to on time (the not a morning person struggle is real). I read books, like ACTUAL books. I felt more patient with my children, more “in” on conversations, and contributed to keeping the eternal laundry pile down to a small mound vs. a mountain at our home.
3.) Everyone and everything will still be there when you return.
Don’t believe me? Try it.
I can hear you, “oh I can’t do that--- social media freeze for a month? No way…not me!” Well, how about a week? A day? An hour (for you straight up addicts)? Start little and see how you can use your time without the constant draw to your phone. It starts with deleting apps….cut off the vein for the drug to go in….am I right?
My people were there on the other side of my social media break, and yours will too. No one is going anywhere. If you operate a business--- no matter how big, you can do this. “Oh, but Julie I have 10K followers and I’ve worked hard for my social media presence.” To that I say--cool. Seriously, kudos to you, sincerely-- I know that time investment is hard to step away from. But, they’ll be there….I believe your followers will remain the same or pretty darn close. Here’s the honest truth--- do you remember MySpace or Vine….both are GONE! If you spent hours and hours creating content and videos and it’s wiped away, what now? What do you have? It’s seriously not worth the stress people. Don’t let modern business expectations, what you “should do,” or what’s socially the norm get in the way of your sanity. Think big picture, think mental health, think valuing your life.
4.) Getting back on social media after a month off is a drag.
No really, it is! I put Instagram on my phone the day after my social media experiment was up. I thought to share a photo of me taken while on vacation to re-emerge into social media world, so I did. But now, I don’t feel drawn to Instagram very much. The daily need to keep up with real time posts and check in multiple times a day….I don’t need it.
Facebook went back on my phone two days after my month span was up. I had it on my phone long enough to upload some photos for my circle to see of some memories from the past month but I’ve since deleted Facebook on my phone again altogether.
I’m applying what I’ve learned from this one month away from social media experiment and applying it to daily life. For me, that looks like not putting so much value in it but still staying connected. It looks like keeping Instagram on my phone to do some updates easily for JAJP. It means keeping the Facebook app OFF my phone to avoid falling down that rabbit hole--- even if it means uploading it when I want to easily access Facebook to upload photos from my camera reel. It sounds like a lot of inconvenience to avoid an app, I know. But I’ve learned time is worth so much more than how I’ve treated it.
If sharing this personal feedback from a month of from social media sparks anything in you to apply it to your life then I’m glad to have taken the time to share.
Wishing all of you out there who take a minute to read a bit into my word nothing but the best. I have some work to do on session edits, personal photographs from travel and an announcement about what fall will look like for Julie Anna’s Joy Photography. Stay tuned….