Life

What I learned from a month away from social media.

I’ve taken breaks from social media before. And you’ve probably heard every reason under the sun for doing this. Usually people break or go right back to using it after a short time. Well, It’s June 1st and I really don’t like that the only thing I miss is seeing what my friends are up to.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is really important when you’re trying to build any kind of platform. My readership tanked by half as soon as I stopped posting on facebook every time I put a new post up. Honestly, that doesn’t bother me as much as not getting to see the fun things people are getting up to.

So, that brings me to what I’ve learned this month.

1. I’m not as communicative with my friends and family as I should be.

Seeing that they posted on Instagram or Facebook that they’re moving cross-country, that they took a hike, or that their pet did a cute thing is not the same as hearing about it in person or via an actual message to individually. I am very very bad at assuming people will contact me if they need to talk to me.

Friendship goes both ways. I need to get better at the reaching about portion.

Also, I need to call my mom more.

2. Social Media is a tool, not a cure for boredom.

As I said before, I liked to post my blogs on my social media for my friends and family to get a chance to read them. For a long time I wanted my social media to be more or less an extension of my blog. I wanted at least my instagram to have the same theme of creativity, writing, and reading. I didn’t care so much anymore about sharing what was going on in my life (because I didn’t think anybody would really care beyond the writing I’m doing). I figured anybody who did care…would ask?

The worst part of it was that I forgot my original purpose for them and would spend near hours scrolling through reels and posts that were not related to writing, reading, or creativity. This ended up making me feel bored, sometimes overstimulated if I ended up on my phone before bed, and often envious of other people for being more successful in whatever algorithmic game was being played or if they were doing better in my field than me. (duh, they weren’t scrolling on instagram all day).

The truth was I was bored and needed something else to do with my time, but was choosing useless scrolling over using my brain. It wasn’t good for me or my creativity. It usually let my critical self catch up faster too.

Over the past month, a few in my friend group started writing nights. In these weekly sessions, I finished writing some key scenes of my rewrite and will be moving on to another big section of revisions. During some other shorter writing sessions, I also wrote a little over half of a longer, short story. So, apparently getting off your phone and doing some work actually does get things done. I also read over 10 books this month…some of them on my phone instead of scrolling if you’re looking for something else to do instead.

3. Comparison is the thief of joy

I got envious of the success other people were having. Friends could be getting followers, likes, and comments and I would be so jealous. They were playing the game I refused to play and they were winning. And i was jealous. So I took a step back.

When I took my first “break” it was to declutter my use and thoughts around technology, more specifically around social media. I wanted to come back to this and fully realize that for me to have a healthy relationship with the internet, I need to use it in a way that puts my mental health first.

I love bookstagram accounts. They’re ridiculously gorgeous and make me inspired to read. For some messed up reason, I didn’t realize that I don’t have to HAVE a bookstagram account. I can do my own thing. Creativity opens the door for you to play around, take what other people are doing, see if it fits, and then change it for yourself until you find what’s right.

That’s what I need to do with my accounts. Let them be another area for creativity, instead of chasing a look that other people are showing. (I know, duh, right?)

What now?

Well, I’m going to start posting my blogs on my various accounts again. I want to show what I’m working on after all. I’m going to be creative with my Instagram, see what new stuff I can do with it.

But, for my own sake, I’m setting myself some ground rules for going back into the fray.

  • No social media after 9pm. I should be winding down for sleep by that point anyways.
  • No “explore” function in Instagram (that’s where I usually get trapped for hours). When I’m done scrolling my feed of followed people, I’m done.
  • Purge the people who make you feel bad with their content. Not envious, but just…inferior. It’s okay to look up to people, but it’s not okay to follow people who show off like their wealth or body is a character trait.
  • No impulsive scrolling or checking when you’re bored. (This is hard, but so important) If I want to check my phone during work, when I’m socializing, or any other time that isn’t when I have something to share, then I don’t need to be on the platform.
  • Give and Take. Don’t be a quiet observer stalking people’s content. If you like something, SAY THAT YOU DO! Not just useless hearts on a picture.

Of course, these rules are super generic and just for the current me. I might look back in a month and think half of these are ridiculous, or I might have deleted an account altogether. The important part is that I need to be more mindful about it.

Have you ever taken a social media break? What did you learn from it? Any advice for getting more creative with social media?

Happy Writing!

Rachel

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