Social Media Blackout

The boys lost Justin’s phone. They were playing games on it, one of them put it down and we haven’t been able to find it. It’s been pretty annoying to not be able to send a quick ‘hey, can you grab a bag of dog food on your way home from work’-type of text. But, after being unplugged for awhile, he’s noticed something- he likes it. 

I decided to do an experiment. I’ve been reducing the time I spend using social media for awhile, going a week or more without accessing Facebook. For the last few days I’ve spent 2 hours per day posting and browsing. I made notes of my mood and overall feelings at the beginning of each two hour block and again at the end. The end result was pretty surprising. 

At the end of each time period, I didn’t feel any better than I had when I’d started. In fact, I often felt worse- more agitated, less motivated. I felt like I’d just wasted two hours that I could’ve spent playing Monopoly with my daughters or waging war against imaginary zombies with my sons. I could’ve been writing, or reading. I could’ve been working on a project outside. On the days that I stayed off Facebook I took more photos, and those I took were much better. I got more done around the house. 

Social media has its merits. Facebook has been integral in connecting people who lost touch a long time ago, and a great form of free advertising for small businesses. Our farm Facebook page has helped us find homes for our baby goats and connected us with some awesome like-minded folks in and outside our area. It’s a resource that serves a purpose, but it can be misused so easily. 

I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’m also an introvert, and extremely socially awkward. Facebook became my primary source of social interaction for a very long time. I was thrilled to find old friends after decades apart, excited to catch up on lost time. I often perused Facebook while nursing my babies or waiting for the dryer to beep. It served a purpose. However, once I got a smartphone and started using Facebook multiple times per day I pretty much stopped doing other things; reading daily, crocheting, knitting. I stopped thumbing through my library of cookbooks and finding new recipes to try each week. Justin and I spent more evenings on the couch with our phones out than we ever did before. We both got into drawn-out arguments with strangers about politics or parenting choices that consumed hours of our day. When someone unfriended me I’d end up feeling genuinely offended and sad. In the end, what purpose did any of that crap serve?! 

I hate seeing couples out to dinner together who spend the whole time glued to their phones. They take photos of their appetizer, entrees and cocktails but barely speak to each other. Their phones never leave their hands; I once saw a woman drop a forkfull of salad into her lap because she was clumsily eating with her left hand while typing away on her phone with her right. Why bother going on a date with your significant other if you’re going to pay more attention to the bleeping electronic device fused to your hand than the person you’re supposed to be spending time with?! It seems so abhorrent- yet, we’ve been guilty of doing that ourselves a few times.

It seems like so many people use Facebook as a way to define themselves, to feel like they’re involved and important. To build a persona, a perfect depiction of who they want people to see them as. Peacocking a perfect life that they’re not actually living. Polishing a gleaming apple that is full of worms. Taking so much of their satisfaction from the approval of others instead of from life itself. I’m guilty of that too, to an extent. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it is what it is. 

After a month of intermittent pondering, I’ve decided not to delete my Facebook account. Our farm page is important to our business and has really not caused any disturbance in our daily lives; it will continue to be what it’s always been, a resource that is utilized when we have homestead-related happenings to share (same with our Instagram account.) I will check into my personal account a time or two per month at the very most. I’m deleting the app from my devices. I’m unplugging; I’m joining my husband’s self-imposed social media blackout. 

I’m living the life I want to live, and have nothing to prove to anyone. I have nothing to prove to myself. I don’t need the approval of others to feel fulfilled or like I’m ‘somebody.’ The people who want to contact our family can text, message or email. They can check in here at the blog. They can call, or just stop on by the farm. We’re around, but we’ll be focusing more on living than painting a meticulous portrait of what we want a cadre of acquaintances to see. The friends who actually want to stay in contact can. As far as the time-sucking black hole that social media so easily becomes, I want off that runaway train. It really hasn’t done anything positive for me for a long time. 

May I make a suggestion? Do an experiment of your own. Take a few days off from social media, make notes of the general progress of your day (What you get done, what you feel drawn to do, conversations you have with family, ect.) Then go back to your old social media habits and note the same things. Just how positive of an influence is it in your life? Try unplugging for a few weeks and see what things change. You just might be surprised- I certainly was. 

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