In the short space of 5 months my Dad died, my partner told me he wasn’t in love with me anymore and a dog threw up in my car. I didn’t realise at the time but I’d been choosing to bury what I couldn’t face and it wasn’t until that dog spewed in my car that overwhelm set in and in a split second, I thought I might self implode. The short version is, my mental capacity to deal with life shrunk in a heartbeat. Urgent action was needed. I needed to get my head out of everybody else’s life and place it firmly in my own if I stood any chance of finding me again. Could removing myself from social media for 8 weeks be the answer to my prayers?
I’m a part of a generation who loves to snap avocado on toast and scroll through cat memes when we’re supposed to be at work. And I love it. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow, taking myself away from the temptation to trawl through other people’s photos could be beneficial to my healing process. So I closed down every app, disabled accounts where possible and enlisted the help of my Mum and best friend to manage my blog and business accounts for the interim.
1 - You Have Less Distractions
I didn’t realise just how much I used social media to distract myself until I stepped away. And I had plenty I was doing my best to hide from. According to Social Media Today the average person spends nearly two hours on social media every day. Two hours! Without the distraction of other people’s breakfasts or hilarious breakup memes, I stopped mindlessly scrolling and put my newfound source of spare time to good use, confronting a few feelings I’d been burying. Most importantly, the sudden death of my Father.
2 - You Build On The Connections With The Important People In Your Life
It’s a sad state of affairs when liking a friend’s photo replaces the act of face-to-face human conversation but it’s something most of us are guilty of, myself included. Whilst designed to connect people, ironically social sites can actually cause you to veer off into the realm of anti-social. Coming away forces you to pick up the phone and make effort with those you care about, which in turn, adds value to your relationships. It brings your engagement with people back to basics PLUS it has this sneaky little way of showing you which friendships are balanced. Solid relationships are a two way street that when right, bring a huge amount of light to your life. For the first time in a long time, I felt whole in mine.
3 - Focusing On Your Own Life Becomes Easier
Comparison is often described as “The thief of joy” and with celebrity lifestyles available for stalking at the touch of a button, we’re at more risk now than ever before. It’s super easy to look at the surface information in a photo or caption only to compare it to our own struggles, when in reality we have no idea what goes on behind the scenes of another person’s story. Forbes reported about a number of studies carried out regarding social comparison which interestingly showed we don’t just compare and feel awful, we also compare to feel good about ourselves. It’s can be an ongoing stream of validation. Stepping away helped me to appreciate that with or without the successes of everyone else, the only person who can make a difference to my own life is me so I better get to it.
4 – You Take In Precious Moments
It’s a well known fact social media documents the best of the best but what would happen if you wore a sassy outfit just because or enjoyed a weekend away minus the constant flow of shameless holiday selfies? You become present, you feel connected to the moment and you just enjoy the simple act of being. You make decisions based on what you want, not what you think will look good to your friends and followers and inevitably, you end up doing this funny thing so many of us forget to do sometimes. You start living.
5 - Break Ups Are (A Tiny Bit) Easier
Breaking up is a passage of life that’s about as much fun as being eaten by a shark. Nowadays they’re only made harder by the fact we don’t have to just contend with the risk of bumping into our ex but that their face might crop up in our feeds at the precise moment we're sat crying in our sweats fearful of a life spent with cats that’s now looking a lot more likely. It can be painful to have their social antics thrown down your neck, especially in those first few weeks, so removing that possibility is a great way to not only gain some perspective but provides you with a healthy space to heal. Plus, no chance of late night drunken FB stalks. You know you’ve done it…
Now my little experiment is over, am I happy to be back on social media? Absolutely. I happen to enjoy those silly cat memes. But I’ve learnt to accept that social media is just a highlight reel people share, myself included, and to not overanalyze or compare. As a business owner and blogger, to come away from it forever just isn’t realistic so instead I choose to adjust my attitude towards it all, allocate set time frames to prevent mindless scrolling and share more photos of me with double chins.
Because life isn’t perfect all of the time - and that’s OK.