Reporting from the Field: My Social Media (and News) Fast Is Done

I’m baaaaaack!

Social media fast = officially over.

Like most things in life, it was a mixed experience. An emotional cocktail with hints of blessed silence, a dash of itchy irritability, stirred up with huge doses of smugness, disorientation, and disconnection AND connection – both internal and external.

Traveling different pathways lets me view things from new vantage points, and I suspect I’ll continue to percolate on my learnings as I reintegrate into the digital world. For now, here are some of my reflections:

  • There are good reasons to gather online. I came back online to post inside some groups, both for professional reasons and personal ones. Sometimes showing up and being present for things that matter is more important than digging into social and political stances.
  • It’s supremely noisy online. My personal filters get worn down easily, and as Van Jones said beautifully in this interview with Tami Simon, it’s okay to stretch myself.
  • I’m mindful of how much I consume for entertainment’s purpose online. One of my recent intentions is to put more of my focus on my creation rather than my consumption. I’m not a purist by any means, but I’d like the balance to tip more toward creation.
  • It’s really hard to discuss online behavior without being sanctimonious.
  • I used this experiment and my own internal wrestling about the role of social media and news in my life and in the world and the place I want to drive toward – I used it to distract myself from my substantive inner work and acts of creation, particularly with my business. As Steven Pressfield says,

“Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. resistance is the enemy within.”

My resistance – my fear – decided that this question of whether I could morally and healthily participate in the online world was a handy distraction from doing work that really matters to me. So, I’m setting down this question and turning towards substantive work for myself. I just rebuilt my website, and I’m putting together some other tools that I want to use with my clients in the coming months. So, yes, I’m baaaaack – in more ways than one.

And let me tell you, I wasted no time posting kitten and cat photos. Because isn’t that really what the internet – and life – is all about?

I’m Starting a Social Media Fast

My 20-year-old decided to erase all of his social media accounts. It took him days because he was determined to remove the tags that linked him to photos that other people (okay, mostly me) had posted.

I admired his commitment to his principles (“Facebook isn’t going to make money on my data!”), his discipline (don’t worry – he’s still a typical 20-year-old, plugged into Netflix and listening to music), and his insights (“Mom, you know when you post a photo of Audrey, even though she doesn’t have an account on Facebook yet, Facebook is still tracking it – she has a shadow account on there, you know?” Um…no, I did not know that).

I blissfully returned to my usual pattern. I like Facebook. I like Insta. I’m finally figuring out Twitter thanks for my renewed determination to be politically active. #NewToHashtags. I like scrolling through my newsfeed in these spots and catching up with people who are dear to me, with people who I want to know more deeply, with people who I see as ahead of me on journeys that matter to me. It’s entertaining. It’s connecting. It’s enlightening (I’ve read some great, insightful, informative, paradigm-shifting articles and blogs because friends posted them). It’s mind candy (those goofy memes and videos get me), and it’s inspiring (who doesn’t love a riveting video?).

Then, I watched The Daily Show‘s skit about Facebook and that was hard to ignore. Not super hard since it ran months ago.

Since I still think about that clip, I decided I want to take a hiatus from FB (#DelayedReaction).

“Couldn’t I just move over to Instagram?” I whined to my son.

“Mom, Instagram IS Facebook! Facebook owns Instagram. Why do you think you can push your Insta posts to FB?”

Cripes.

Yeah, I knew that.

I’m not as decisive as my son. I’m keeping my accounts. I simply want to prototype (a la Designing Your Life!) my life without the big players. LinkedIn is an exception since I use it professionally so often (#rationalization), and my LinkedIn account pushes to Twitter, so anything I post there will show up on Twitter, but I’m not going to Twitter, FB, or Insta to read anymore. For a while anyway.

While I’m playing with this social media fast, I’m committing to posting more often here on my blog (not hard – it’s woefully neglected!).

As my favorite self-care article of all time reminds me:

Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing. It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution. It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do…

And, yes, I did, in fact, just go to FB and find that quote. #Irony

I’d love for you to stay connected with me here on my blog. And the truth is, I don’t go and read other people’s blogs (*hangs head in despair*), so if you’re in the same boat (who has TIME for that?!), here’s Plan B: subscribe to my email list. I set up a separate list for people who want to receive a monthly email with links to the blogs I write here. Know that subscribing to that email list is a temporary thing. I’ve wiping that list if/when I return to the big social media players, so if you want to be on my real email list in addition to my temporary, stay-in-touch-with-me, temporary deal, click here.