I Took Off A Month

No, I didn’t not work for a month — that’d be silly.

I was off social media for a month. Why? Read on.

During this time many sensations and emotions came to:

  • “Oh man, this is hilarious. I want to share this with…oh, never mind”
  • “I want to share this funny experience…oh…”
  • “How is so-and-so doing…?” (I still don’t know as of writing this post.)
  • “I want to ask so-and-so something…oh, wait.”
  • “But what am I missing out on?!?”
  • “I’m sure my life is incomplete without ______________”

Those were just some of the emotions and sensations that went through my brain. Sometimes I even had elevated blood pressure knowing I was “cut off from the outside world”.

Before you think I went too far, remember, I was still on the internet (I work for a tech company, after all!. But it was an experiment where I more deeply realized how addicting social media is, how much we rely on it, and how little value it can and does add (without specific purpose) to our lives. It was a different experience. My life slowed down.

I introduced more reflective time. It was hard to imagine not constantly listening to music, a podcast (at 1.5x speed, mind you), or doubling up on some other activity (why should we go to the store and not also be checking texts, reading emails, and listening to that podcast a friend recommended us?). You see, if I’m not squeezing every drop of time out of this well-worn towel, then I’m doing it wrong — and you likely feel the same. If we’re not constantly maximizing our resources, we will fall behind. Or, that’s how I felt.

You can only constantly maximize for so long. Our bodies, like the earth, were intended for seasons — not robotic manipulation to meet or exceed 100%. We can’t do it. And even if we “could”, what unintended consequences are occurring?

I’m not going to lie; admitting how much I “depended” on social media was hard. I go as far as to say “addicting” because there were times I opened up my browser and thought, “oh. Wait. I can’t do this right now.”

There are many reasons for this and you could grab a better analysis from a psychologist, but from a person so connected — yet who felt like he could “give it up at any time” — it was a shocking realization.

It’s similar to fasting — for religious reasons or not — where you realize how dependent you were on something once you gave it up. What was once seemingly small has suddenly grown large — something you hold tightly in your fist.

(If this has encouraged you to go off social media, great! I suggest you try it for just 30 days. Don’t tell anyone either — just do it. In reading Deep Work by Cal Newport, he was the one recommending not telling anyone. If you do, friends, colleagues, and online acquaintances will remind you they “missed you!” But that may only be true because you first set that expectation. Just go offline and see what happens. You — and I — may be surprised.)

Social media sprung up quickly and now it’s hard to imagine life without it. Funny, isn’t it? We can hardly imagine life without now.

It’s not evil; I will return to it once more. But this time with an appreciation I did not have before. Who knows? I may realize how much I enjoy it and be more willing to allow myself to spot the signs to the problems it creates and make course corrections from a more honest bias.

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