Last November, when I decided that I was going to write my book Love, Care, Trust & Respect, I realised that the only way that I was going to get it done and dusted was if I removed the main distractions. Aside from getting out of the house, the major move was to delete the Facebook app from my phone. I had originally intended for this to be temporary, but 10 months on and I’ve deleted Twitter as well (I would delete Instagram but you can’t use it properly without the app).
So, on this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I share what I’ve learned over the last ten months of social media dieting and talk about some of the other reasons why I’m making a big shift. The experiment has basically been to answer the question, Will my life fall apart if I’m not on social media?, and the answer is a resounding no.
>> Why recognising that adults of all ages struggle with the emotional consequences of engaging online and sharing information about themselves has reminded me to lead from the front with my daughters, after all, if we are hugely affected and don’t know what we’re doing and why half the time, we need to be more mindful of the impact upon children
>> Why it started out as being about my personal use of Facebook but I then took a break from social media even with regards to work
>> The big six problems online that represent poor boundaries:
#1 We are exposed to far more noise than we ever have been and it’s too much
#2 The negativity–arguing, judging, belittling, name-calling, shaming, misinformation, and the ‘cycle of outrage’ where we’re essentially logging in to get mad about stuff and then coming off and getting back to life, and then logging in only to feel outraged again, and lather, rinse, repeat
#3 Not distinguishing between what’s real and what’s fake, and this includes not recognising that people only share snapshots of their lives and even when they share a lot, it’s often curated.
#4 Engaging in far too much comparison and the toll it takes on our mental health
#5 Emotional unavailability, so the fact that some of us are using social media to detach from our emotions and to avoid true intimacy
#6 Being distracted, down and drained
>>The key lessons I’ve learn from my social media diet
>> You don’t know your usage or even your dependency until you delete the app and curtail your use. Suddenly you notice how many times you go to pick up your phone and check for the non-existent notifications!
>> When you put out one fire, sometimes another one lights up. The focus of social media diets tends to be good ole Facebook but what I found is that after I deleted it, I was more active on the Twitter app and skimming through the feed.Yes, I deleted that too.
>> I don’t need to be notified about 99% of the stuff that I’m notified about. Nuff said.
>> I’m not missing anything. This is psychological bullsh-t that’s in part driven by the way that these platforms work but also by our egos. Fact is, we’re not seeing ‘everything’ on any of these platforms. We are, for example, only seeing a fraction of the updates from our friend list and the pages and groups that we’ve liked and joined because, wellllllll, Facebook wants you to be looking at ads.
>> The world has a lot of problems but if you spend less time on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, you won’t feel the urge to give up on humanity.
>> It’s liberating. I enjoy being less distracted and using my spare moments and free time in different ways. Yes, sometimes it’s OK for me to do absolutely nothing at all!
>> The big signs that you need to go on a social media diet
>> Your emotional and mental health is being compromised by your usage or it’s certainly compounding an existing issue.
>> You’re using it as one big fat exercise in comparison, envy, jealousy, beating yourself up and basically feeling small.
>> Your real relationships and priorities are suffering.
>> You don’t like a lot of the people you’re surrounded by and hard as it might be to admit, you go on there to feel superior.
>> You’re in a ‘cycle of outrage’ and have been in more than a couple of spats online. I know of people who are in constant ‘misunderstandings’ online and would have a fight with a paper bag. These incidences are a message from life to step away from the online light and refocus your energies.
>> There’s a significant shift in your mindset, attitude, feelings and behaviour–so you’re collecting attention and basically getting high on the strokes, or you feel low afterwards.
>> You’re forgetting who you really are.
>> Why you don’t need to have ‘major’ reasons for having a social media break and that it can quite simply come down to understanding what feels good and right for you (your values) and making choices that work for you.
>> What someone else is cool with, might not be for you.
>> It doesn’t make you ‘weak’ or ‘weird’ if you are affected by social media so there’s no need to tell you that you ‘should’ be able to handle it.
>> Ask yourself: How do I want to feel and continue feeling? Am I raised or am I drained? Does this live up to my values? Basically, listen to yourself.
>> The importance of being a conscious consumer of content instead of being bombarded–yes, we can be more choosy about what we read and who we’re surrounding ourselves with online.
>> Why it doesn’t have to be about giving it up entirely but instead finding your sweet spot–the intersection of where you use it and enjoy it, and don’t go beyond that.
>> 5 things that you can do straight away to begin your own social media diet
#1 Delete the apps from your phone so that you have to make a more conscious and concerted effort to use the platforms
#2 Not ready to delete? Turn off the notifications.
#3 Whether you delete the app or not, set a time limit for your usage and also be more mindful of how often you’re going to your phone etc to check on what’s going on. I said 3 times a day for ten minutes for Facebook and I’m now ‘lucky’ if I use that daily time allocation in one week.
#4 Influence what you’re seeing by having a tidy-up
> Go through all of the pages that you’ve liked and unlike anything that you’re not into
> Go through Facebook groups that you’ve joined and any that give you that icky feeling and that are not adding genuine value to your life, cut ’em!
> Go through your friend and follower list and unfriend and unfollow people you don’t know, are sharing stuff that drains you out, or that you know bring out unpleasant feelings in you. What some people find is that they unfollow everyone on, for instance, Twitter and then notice who they miss. You can use tools like ManageFlitter to clean up your Twitter.
#5 Notice your feelings–they’re there to guide you. If you feel despair, guilt, obligation, resentment, superior, inferior, anxious, afraid, judgemental, envious, jealous, helpless, powerless, victimised or depressed when you use social media or afterwards, note what or who you’re engaging with so that you can be more mindful of that type of engagement and content. It’s likely a sign that you need to step back from whatever it is or even remove it.
>> Episode 64 where I talk about my early lessons from being on this social media diet
>> I mentioned that I’m in a couple of friends Facebook groups including Janet Murray’s Soulful PR community
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