As I begin to write this, I am exactly 20 days away from having completed my 1 year social media break. I’m a social butterfly and enjoy being connected to friends and family all over the world, and while I had participated in fasting from social platforms for various things I was praying for, it had never been longer than a few weeks. I’m aware this is not a new concept, I’ve seen loads of people do the “Bye, guys! Going off social for a bit” post. I was not as obsessive as some, and yet I did find it sucking my time away. Without even realizing, I’d look down and had opened either Facebook or Instagram while walking from one end of my house to the other. Has ever happened to you? It’s a twilight zone sort of feeling, and put a little check in my spirit every time it happened. It’s not the whole reason I went off, just part of it.
My 1 year Social Media vacay was preceded by a year of the most frequent posting I had ever done. The year prior I had begun to be intentional on social platforms with marketing myself as a costume designer. I designed mainly for live shows and gala events for a decade, and never really took advantage of online promotion, silly I know. I got serious, and learned how many times I should be posting, and how to hashtag to maximize my views. In addition, I did Insta stories almost non stop. While on tour with some of my costumes, I would grab the performers every chance I could, trying to get super cool shots in various places all over the US. I even took our wire walker out in the snow, in her vintage two piece circus costume, in Burlington Vermont…in November; I think it was above 20 degrees? At least part of her costume was a fur coat, all I can say is she was a trooper.( You can view the pics from the freezing photo shoot here, and here)
I’m thankful to everyone else who accommodated me and understood the impact of marketing yourself on various media platforms. You all know who you are, thank you!
While I made good effort (I only missed Insta stories a couple times) I still felt like it wasn’t helping anything. I noticed the posts I most looked forward to were ones about my hubby and I on tour, other places we traveled(like this one),our marriage (like this one) and the things God was doing in our lives. It’s funny, I felt like God called me to be intentional about my costuming; when I did, I realized I wasn’t really passionate about it. I’m learning just because you are good at something doesn’t mean it’s your calling.
After my hubby took a full time job with Disney Imagineering, I felt God telling me to pursue my passion, encouraging a love for God , marriage, homemaking, and travel. He gave me inspiration to pursue writing a blog, use social media and eventually do a podcast (yes that’s my next pursuit) to accomplish what He placed on my heart. Hubby’s job gave me the ability to not have to say yes to every costume project, and I just assumed it would give me the time to write and start my blog. I was wrong. I found myself so distracted by home projects and whether I should say yes to costume jobs; I was spending or rather wasting away precious time on scrolling social networks (which I called research) to make myself feel better. God stopped me in my tracks and called me to a year of being still. He needed me to get a little more serious about what He had put on my heart. I needed to do this well and take some time re-calibrating how I was approaching my days and my future endeavors. My social media break was imperative to cultivating good habits like spending more time with God through prayer and reading His Word. I needed to be more present with the people who were in front of me, and who popped in my head naturally, as well writing consistently every week.
I quit cold turkey, no goodbye posts. (This was my last post on Instagram)
I admit in the first month I still sometimes found various apps open out of habit, but I would just close it. I moved them to the very last page of my phone. It was embarrassing to see how often I reached for it. My generation hasn’t always had technology ( I was born in 1983) my hubby and I met, dated and got married all without having a computer, internet or social networking sites. We had cell phones, but they were those old Nokia ones, phone calls weren’t cheap so we really only used them for emergencies.
I’ve lived a fair part of my adult life without being connected to people via the internet. Not having it reminded me of how sweet the time was when we didn’t have something to occupy our minds every second. Maybe it makes me sound old fashioned, I couldn’t help noticing so much more about the people and things going on around me when I wasn’t on it. For instance prior to my hiatus, whenever my hubby would pump our gas, I would often reached for my phone to kill time; when we were dating and first married I would sit there and take in the surroundings, and ponder, it’s refreshing to have the space to think again.
After a couple months I was no longer reaching for any social apps, I grew more and more appreciative of my free thinking time and having more time to accomplish things in general. I noticed people in the grocery store, had conversations with strangers about the weather, our city and how good certain products were. I was noticing those around me and picking up on little things I would have missed previously; an old man painstakingly bending down to pick up trash at the park and throw it away, a mom taking time to patiently teach her daughter how to grocery shop, the list went on. My time with my hubby was so much richer, I loved going out on dates without anybody knowing where we were or what we were doing! I was more focused in on the people who were actually in front of me. People who knew I was taking the break still reached out by texting or calling me more, my sister sent me plenty of pictures of my nieces and nephews to satisfy my auntie heart.
For the first several months I felt out of the loop in all aspects from friends to current events. A dear friend of mine lives about 65 miles away, which in Southern California due to traffic and differing schedules can hinder actual face to face time. I missed seeing daily updates and commenting about her kids and what was happening in their lives, I wondered if she felt like I wasn’t present, one day I texted and said “I promise I’m still here”.
My sisters or mom would say did you see such and such or so and so’s post? Nope, definitely not. Because we don’t have TV I was also out of the News loop, one day my Hubby said “I hope your cousin is ok” I was like, “Huh?” Well there was a major hurricane set to hit his town, but because I wasn’t seeing posts from people and don’t watch the news I had no clue. Another negative was noticing how many people spend so much time on their phones, people I knew and people I didn’t. This presented a challenge to have grace and not compare what God called me to do, against what they were doing. On the up side, my hubby did keep me informed about important stuff, friends who had exciting announcements, or were sick needing love and prayer, as well as major news stories which was appreciated.
Another benefit was not having to navigate trolling and political opinions. Not having to decipher how to emotionally or mentally deal with it was a breath of fresh air.
By month 4 I was really starting to notice how slow time was passing not in a bad way, but in a sweet (I’m milking these beautiful moments for all they are worth) way. I noticed I was still taking a lot of photos, now with a different intention; they were simply for memory sake, for me and those enjoying the moments alongside me. I was more engaged in conversations and enjoying events and moments with family and friends. I got a new nephew and didn’t personally announce it even though he has the sweetest little face and I’m obsessed just like I am with my other nieces and nephew.
After month 6 believe it or not, I not only didn’t miss it, I was starting to feel sad my social media break was half over, and wondered wether I would be ready in 6 months to be back on. Could I trust myself to be moderate my social media use? Would I revert back to my old ways? I was actually enjoying this year, living back in the good old days. God sweetly reminded me, if He calls me to connect with people via social platforms and through my blog, He will give me the tools I need to carry it out in a way which honors Him.
We headed into the holiday season with a work trip planned for Hong Kong over Christmas and New Years. Previously, having traveled all over the world, sharing our adventures with our family and friends around the world was one of my favorite things, this was an additional test of my year commitment. It was an epic adventure and I took plenty of photos to write up a blog post on it later. Yet, I definitely liked the anonymity of adventuring with my hubby and the whole world not getting our play by play. It reminded me of being on our honeymoon in Paris, armed only with a map of the city, a disposable camera, and the cash we got from our money dance at our wedding.
I’ve been trying not to think or worry too much about what it will be like when I jump back into the world of public media. Some people take a small break from it and some get fed up and vow never to go back on again. I wasn’t a hater of it before, and while I believe it’s important to be cognizant of how you use it I think it’s become one of the main ways we communicate as a society. I think while it can be used for evil, God can use it for a lot of good too. God placed me in this generation at this time for a reason. I want to use my memory of the “good old days”, to not make me un-relatable but to help me find wisdom in navigating this current time in history. My hope is for the next 20 days I will soak up the last bit of my “still” season and glean all I can from God. When I go back online again, I pray these things I’ve written over the past year are encouraging. I pray my interactions with people on social will be for the purpose of being in community, showing people love and encouragement and pointing them to Jesus. When I go on dates with my hubby I may post about it later, but definitely not in real time. I plan to set boundaries with my time on it, and will continue to give precedence to God and those around me. I know I’m not perfect, and know going back on will be yet another learning experience, but I think I’m ready.
In conclusion, my 1 year social media break has definitely taught me a lot, I’m happier and healthier for it. I’m confident as I navigate these waters with my gleaned wisdom, God will be with me every step of the way giving me grace and gently guiding me.