My First Week Without Social Media
Guys- I know I mentioned feeling incredibly lost without social media on day one...but unfortunately, it's not really gone anywhere.
When you have a fixation with something and it's been actively removed, your entire world is shook top to bottom. I feel it would be very similar to being told you would never walk again and then taking teenie tiny baby steps each day telling yourself- YES, I will! Rewiring your brain and retraining your physical habits is tough stuff.
I'm telling ya...every aspect of my life has been affected. The simplest everyday happenings like the way I cook, shop, shower, sleep, play with my kids, and even putting on make-up, to more thought out processes of reselling outgrown toys and used home goods, interacting with friends, planning get togethers, checking on family, and scheduling my days. Every little thing has been affected.
Here's a quick list of eye-opening moments from the week:
- When I put on a TV show for my kids, I actively watched it with them. We laughed together and discussed the plot of what would happen next. I was engaging with my kids instead of seeing it as an opportunity to scroll social.
- When we've had friends over for dinner, I have actively interacted with them instead of taking pictures to post on social.
- When taking a shower, I spent time praying and reflecting on the day instead of wondering who commented on my recent post.
- When cooking dinner, I typed in the recipe I needed through the search bar instead of searching through saved recipes on a social platform to find the particular one I needed.
- When going for a bike ride, hike, or playground adventure with my family, I embodied living in the moment instead of constantly keeping my eyes peeled for those perfect moments to capture in an Instagram story.
- When my husband found something funny he wanted to share with me, he physically showed me his phone and we shared the moment together instead of seeing it pop up in my DMs and laughing alone.
- When doing the bedtime gamut; shower, brushing teeth, reading books, and prayers/songs, I have found myself enjoying the process instead of rushing through so I could
relaxsit on the couch and pretend to watch a show while scrolling social media. Veteran parents will achingly plead with you - they are only little once. And this week, I've felt it more than ever.
- When wondering how someone was doing, I whipped out my phone to call/text them, instead of looking them up in "stories" to mentally check the box.
- and by doing the above, I noticed one of my sister-in-laws had beautiful new hair extensions, and my other sister-in-law had a gorgeous new do! Although, a bit embarrassing because these new hair habits occurred months ago for both of them; I've just been too distracted to notice. (FACE PALM)
- The biggest kicker has been how I've spent this Christmas holiday. All the above embodied every single moment of how I experienced this Christmas in a different way. I have truly savored the crafts with my kids, cooking heirloom dishes, baking tasty treats, having undistracted conversations with my husband, laughed until I cried with friends, and seen way more people over FaceTime than I have in a few months combined, instead of relying on a social media platform to do it all for me.
- My husband and I even had a tif over how something happened on Christmas morning. He asked me if I was going to take a picture of it, and I said, "no, not if I'm not going to post it."
Looking back, I cannot even believe those words came out of my mouth. I know that hurt his heart a little, because it was evident how the vast effects of "posting" had taken control of me. He was surprised I didn't want a picture of the moment for our family memories.
Deep down, I did.
But that wasn't my initial response, nor what I verbally admitted to.
The Happiness of Others
DISCLAIMER: These are 100% my opinions and my own personal experience. I am not judging nor will I shame you for staying on any social media platform. How, where, and when you choose to share your life with the world is your business - not mine. I'm simply sharing my story.
I received a lot of well intentioned push back from loads of people about disconnecting. Friends and family loved us, and it was an easy way to "see" our life abroad. They could experience life through our eyes and see how our beautiful boys were growing up: in local schools, speaking a foreign language, and adapting to a childhood they knew absolutely nothing about. I did feel sad taking that away, but I also realized I was making my everyday, life mission to keep others appeased by knitting together our family story for them.
I ran across this graphic a few days ago, and it was a pretty hard pill to swallow. I had heard this quote pretty much my whole life, but it never became crystal clear until two weeks ago. Seeing it paired with the background image was a smack in the face. I felt relief, guilt, and sheer happiness all rolled up into one. It may seem selfish. But can I tell you how much happier I have become since then? It's been a slow unveiling, but I feel LOADS lighter.
When it came down to it, I wasn't doing any of this for myself.
Sure- I enjoyed the creative outlet it gave me, but I could create and publish content about anything. I still feel a bit of the guilt, but I've also come to terms with fostering authentic relationships. Those who truly want to "see" us and know how we are doing will reach out in a personal way. And they have!!
Like I mentioned above, I have talked to more people over the phone and seen more people in real life than I have in the past month. And if I'm being completely honest, it's damning to admit.
On the other hand, there are folks whom I had grown to adore and loved to follow on Instagram. Free-spirited backpackers, travel bloggers, fellow expat mommas around the world, chefs dolling out brand new mouth-watering recipes, a few celebrities, and of course all my beloved friends and family.
It's tough to shut that out as well. I thoroughly enjoyed getting new tips and advice from individuals who were veterans in areas we shared in common. But you know what else I realized, I can look up this info on the great world wide web! Haha - it's funny but true. Umm, hello? Think of how we existed and did life 15-20 years ago! All of these individuals I admired had websites, blogs, published articles, and email lists I could join.
There are other ways of keeping up with people besides social media.
This is a big one! I do not have medically diagnosed depression or anxiety, but I do know that I struggle with it here and there like every one else. We are all human (and even if not diagnosed), we all have our ups and downs.
Social media will not lessen your anxiety nor relieve depression. If anything, it will make it 10x worse. Again, this is my experience and 100% my opinion. But...
The bitterness which festers in seeing a group of people out doing something you are missing out on is horrible.
The anger that bubbles up inside when you see a friend doing something they promised you they would never do.
The sadness and frustration that encapsulates your whole body when you can't take that trip, buy that car, decorate that house, or have that family. The constant feeling that you're not good enough. What you are doing is not "right," because you are choosing to do things differently.
If you put your device down and look around, you'll realize you have a pretty epic life!
The anxiety that comes with scrolling-
I need to do this.
I want to have that.
I must go there.
I'm doing that next!
The depressive state that follows-
I have no way of going there.
I don't have the money for that.
I'm too busy to plan that.
I just can't...therefore, my life sucks!
Peppered throughout past years, I've had several people explain the above to me. I, however, thought I was immune. I had a great life, and I loved being connected. Why would I be jealous of others?? I was happy everyone was doing well in different ways. But deep down I was jealous. Remember, real living breathing human being over here? Even scrolling over the littlest things would put a damper on my day. Living abroad can magnify those feelings even more. You see family hanging out together, and you're instantly sad because you are missing out. You see a friend eating your favorite food from back home, and the bitterness sets in. Or how about a group of your old pals going out for some spontaneous fun? Oh, hello there sadness and frustration.
It's terrible. And I know these feelings don't only come with a one way ticket to another country. We've only been abroad for five years, and I logged onto social media a solid ten years before we left the States.
My friend sent me this article, The Great Conjunction Is Upon Us, when she linked my rash decision to the timing of winter solstice + lining of the planets to form the Christmas star. Gave me goosebumps. An interesting read for sure, especially if you are a spiritually celestial person.
If I'm being completely transparent, a few fellow bloggers/Instagram friends turned me on to the new terms and conditions being rolled out on December 20th. One friend took it upon herself to comb through and read them line by line. Who in their right mind does that?? Umm, where can I click "I understand" so I can get back to my scrolling and posting? It also takes forever. Literal hours can be sucked from your life. Who has time for that?? Well... after she peeked my interest, I wanted to see how much was fear mongering and how much was truth. You guys, I didn't like what I was reading one bit. The algorithms, artificial intelligence, what can be seen&heard from your devices was all a bit too much for me to swallow. It's too much to keep up with, worry about, and causing a hella amount of unnecessary stress for me.
Social media IS fun, keeps you connected, and the endorphin rushes are wildly addictive. But when it comes down to it, this momma couldn't stomach it anymore. Obviously, it is a massive distraction from my kids and husband. But the more the world knew about me and passed info, pictures, location, and contacts along to others was simply off-putting to me.
Remember, 100% personal opinion and no judgement from me about how you choose to handle social media platforms. Just being transparent with y'all. Without going into heavy details, it's all there for you in black and white under "settings" should you find yourself curious and wide awake in the 3am hour like I did.
Although, what feels like curiosity and a bit of judgement from others is also a tough pill to swallow. Going against the grain. Not running with the popular crowd. Keeping your hands down when everyone else is raising theirs. It's tough. I had a few friends, when we first joined Facebook back in college, who decided not to do it. And since then, I've had friends who decided to delete their accounts for various reasons.
I never in a million years thought I would be one of those people.
But, here I am! Beginning week two of zero social media. It's odd. It's weird. I feel like an outcast. But I will say, there is more good that has come out of the past week than bad.
It's refreshing. I feel lighter. Happier. My life feels like it has a clearer purpose now. The trap of the comparison game is kaput. I enjoy my kids more. I have found myself actually wanting to be around them. My husband and I aren't as snippy with one another. I've been reading an actual book - one that you get to flip real pages. I savored moments, many many moments. I've even vacuumed more than normal. Yay for a cleaner house! LOL
To wrap up this week, it's been good. It's been weird. It's been utterly eye-opening. Overall- I'm thankful I'm doing it, and I'm even more thankful you are here for the journey. I'm learning loads about myself and curious to see how this continues to play out in my life, especially as an expat.
Curious about how it all initially went down? It's not pretty, but here it is. My First Day Without Social Media - What Happened?
If you want weekly updates on our life abroad, click below. Email it is, because (duh) no social anymore.
Love to read this!! I deleted FB and felt all of this too. I have held onto Instagram and not really sure why...but contemplating giving that up as well. I dream of a day when the world goes back to being disconnected to get more connected.
Thanks, Ashley! And YES to getting more connected through disconnecting! It's definitely a tough decision though. Living abroad made it a tricky one for me. Social media is how I kept up with pretty much everyone all over the world. Overall, the positives have outweighed the negatives though. I have made more personal connections in the past week than I have in months. That alone is wonderful!
Great article! I give social media up every year for lent. I must admit I accomplish a lot more. Did you watch the Social Dilemma? My cousin did & said it would change my view drastically. I am proud of you & happy to stay connected as expat friends through our blogs! Perhaps I would write more blog post which would be a huge plus too! 🥰 Have a great day!
Hi Collins! It’s all crazy but very true to admit. I did watch Social Dilemma. And although it wasn’t the icing on my cake, I highly recommend it for every living breathing human being. Your cousin is right! I am happy social media brought us together, and fingers crossed we make our UAE trip happen next year!!
Proud of you, friend! It takes a lot to admit how yucky the social media withdrawal really is. I've been off a few times but keep coming back for some reason. You're inspiring me to try again!
Thanks, Kelsi! It’s all surreal how much it truly sucks you in. When I started to see how it affected the way I mothered and the relationship I had with hubs, it had to go. All the best to you guys!