Confessions of a Social Media Obsessed Millennial: What I Learned By Taking a Break From Social Media
After ten memorable and surprisingly easy days, I am back on the precarious social media grid yet again. And in celebration of my anti-climatic reappearance, this post is dedicated to honestly examining the three social media myths I proposed before I began my revealing fast. (Click here to read the blog post I published before I went on my social media fast).
Last week I watched an enlightening interview titled, "How to Get People to Follow You." First off, not only is Simon Sinek an insanely captivating speaker, he is also an incredibly insightful leadership coach who discusses how many of the generational issues millennials face permeate their interpersonal and business relationships alike. Many points in this interview directly relate to my original inspiration and underlying intention for stepping away from social media’s tight grip.
I initially embarked on my ten day social media fast feeling energized and optimistic to conquer what I knew had become a harmful addiction with a virtual world. Addressing any addiction is painful, but it was not until I listened to Sinek’s discussion on millennials and social media that I began to reflect and grasp why I experienced what I did during my social media fast; and more importantly, how the road to true freedom from addiction to social media will be a much longer and more complicated a process than a ten day fast.
So now how about examining my three social media myths with new insight?
Myth #1: “I’m far too busy to fall into the comparison trap on social media. The little bit of time I do spend on social media doesn’t have an affect on my spiritual/emotional well-being.” '
...Wait a minute, can we take a second to discuss what I inadequately described as a “little time?”
First off, plot twist: 16-18 hours in a day actually gives us time to accomplish a surprising number of tasks—cue my favorite motivation quote: “You have the same number of hours in the day as Beyoncé.” But unfortunately it is far too easy to fill those hours with virtual distractions.
And if you are anything like me, then maybe you look at your “full” day and think that you cannot fit anything more into your schedule. Well, when I cut all of my social media accounts for ten days, I was astonished that I had fed myself a lie, (a busyness lie to more specific). For far too long had conditioned myself to believe that I did not have time to pursue X, Y & Z friendship, ministry, volunteer opportunity etc. When in reality, the hard truth is that there is actually time in my day, but it is up to me whether or not I utilize that free time by distracting myself with social media or not.
Now you may be asking yourself how I possibly experienced emptiness and anxiety during the first phase of my fast if it actually allowed me to accomplish more of my goals? To answer that question, I am going to quote Sinek, who wisely stated, “We are growing up in an Instagram, Facebook world—in other words, we are good at putting filters on things. We are good at showing people that life is amazing, but we are depressed.” And so I experienced emptiness and anxiety because like so many people, I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was using social media to fill a void or present a picture perfect image in order to suppress certain insecurities.
But all this to say that despite its initial void, I can personally attest that free time has the unique potential to address suppressed emotions and ultimately grow an individual exponentially.
Myth #2: “Constantly using social media improves my interpersonal relationships. I will be out of touch with my friends and family if I can’t connect via social media outlets.”
In retrospect if I could have bet that the above myth would have been the hardest one to refute or address during my fast, I certainly would have. Regardless, I want to first talk about how taking a break from social media improved my interpersonal relationships:
First, I was present in a way that I have never been before, (or at least not for a long time). And for the most part, I felt that my mind was freed from so many virtual distractions during my fast that I was finally able to focus on the messages and feelings of the people I interacted everyday, (instead of being preoccupied bymindless virtual interactions).
But, although I felt like I had freed my brain from social media’s precariously grip, I still frequently found myself mentally preoccupied by various other personal concerns, day-dreams, etc. So with the previous truth in mind, and to transition away from some of the benefits of social media on my interpersonal relationships, here is one of my favorite quotes from Sineck’s podcast: “There is nothing wrong with social media and your phone, but if you are sitting at dinner texting someone who is not there, that's a problem-that's an addiction.”
Sineck’s quote points out the paradox of social media—In moderation, social media is a great outlet to connect in the midst of our busy lives, (hence my hesitation to claim to refute myth #2 as a whole). However, in excess, a seemingly innocent outlet can quickly consume our every thought and hurt our real-life relationships.
To conclude, the number one lesson from myth #2 is that moderation is the key to a healthy relationship with social media.
Myth #3: “I am limiting the expression of thankfulness for the life I have been giving by not sharing it publicly. Without documenting something in its picture perfect form, I will not be able to remember how precious something actually was.”
To be completely honest, myth #3 was also challenging to entirely refute because I still hold a similar mindset coming out of my ten day fast—namely that social media can be a beautiful place to express gratitude for your life.
But despite my originally resistant mindset, my ten fast nevertheless taught me how to live in the moment without constant or perfect documentation…And more importantly, my unusual inability to express “virtual gratitude” forced me to express my gratitude verbally—not in boasting manner, but rather in authentic thankfulness.
So three myths later, and here I am—hopefully a little wiser, and certainly a little more optimistic about developing a healthy future relationship with social media.
I truly hope that my reflection was revealing and helpful for my fellow millennials (and non millennial) readers. I would love to hear what myth you could relate to the most, so be sure to comment down below!