Warning: this post is a little heavy.
At the time that I’m writing this post, I (like millions of other Americans) have just learned that, yet again, there has been another horrifying school shooting. And, as this is only the second month in 2018.
It was all over social media. It is still all over social media as people debate the causes and solutions — often without doing more than screaming talking points and increasing the negativity in the world.
I find myself wondering how many times we will be alerted to this type of news throughout the year and how many times we’ll go through this cycle.
In fact, by the end of 2017, I found myself dreading the news, social media, and any form of media whose sole purpose was to inform me about what was going on in the world.
Sometimes, you just don’t want to know. And, sometimes, you don’t need to know. By October 2017, I began formulating a plan to take a social media break. One free from the constant notifications, angry comments, scary news, and political fighting. And, in December I managed to stay off of social media for a month.
I was damn glad. It was the most peaceful month of the entire last year.
Wonder how I did it?
First, I had to acknowledge that constantly being “in the loop” was driving me crazy and stressing me out.
On top of that, the stress began affecting my ability to live my life happily. Once I owned the fact that I needed time to not care about anyone but me and that I wasn’t being selfish, the social media break was easy to do.
Plus, social media can be distracting. It’s easy to sucked into a discussion. Before you know it, an hour has passed — and you’ve accomplished nothing to enrich your life. I could have spent much more time on my business and made more money without the time spent on social media.
Of course, my social media presence was a huge deal, so I needed to keep people in the loop.
I began prepping the people in my life who were used to communicating with me via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Each day, I would post a message that would pique my friends’ interest. I kept these messages pretty cryptic so that they would engage with the post.
My friends began asking me questions about what was going on. Those questions gave me the opening to say “Hey-I’m taking a break soon from social media!”
Preparing my friends for this break was important because people take social media so seriously nowadays! You don’t want to unintentionally upset someone who reaches out to you but has no idea that you’re completely offline.
Leave a “bye Felicia” post.
Seriously, leave a post on your social media profiles letting people know that you are on a break. I literally left post letting telling my friends and followers the following:
- What I was doing: “Taking a social media break” and how that break would affect the people that I typically connect with online.
- I shared my “why.” This type of post is optional, but I found that by sharing my “why” other people would share that they were feeling the same way that I was and were thinking about taking a social media break too.
- Share when you plan to return to social media. You’ll find that if you slip and get back on social and your friends notice, they will call you out on it!
Now that you’ve left notices and shared what’s going on, it’s time to take your break.
First, figure out which social media platforms you’re using. Because I run a blog, I am on basically all of the platforms. But you might only be on a few platforms that you use regularly. Identify those.
Next, get rid of the apps. I removed all of the apps from my cell phone. It was that simple. You might be surprised at how easy it is to avoid social media when it’s not staring you in the face on your phone.
I also decided to stop watching the news. Interestingly, I actually found that to be a little more difficult than breaking up with social media.
Staying away from the news and constantly checking the headlines on my phone was a challenge. However, I didn’t miss the negativity involved with all that news.
What surprised me.
You’ve heard that “ignorance is bliss.” I 100% agree.
The month of December was a blissful experience of being purposefully out of the loop. And, in just in case you’re wondering, if anything really crazy came up, people were sure to let me know what was going on.
My productivity shot through the roof, my anxiety levels went way down, and I existed in a state of complete calm.
By removing the anxious anticipation of waking up in the morning and wondering “What in the hell happened last night?” Each morning became something that I looked forward to.
And I also stopped checking my phone obsessively throughout the day. In fact, several social media related habits became apparent to me during my break. A few habits included: checking my social media right when I woke up, obsessively reading my feeds to see what was going on, and commenting constantly.
All of these things had been happening when I could have been working on something meaningful instead.
By the end of my experiment, I was surprised to discover how much I used to be involved with checking things on social media and in the news.
Would I do it again?
And, just in case you’re wondering, I am back on social media.
But I’ve become very attuned to how it makes me feel — and the minute it starts stressing me out, I’m taking a break.
The social media break was so enjoyable that I’ve actually scheduled breaks throughout the year and will take the entire month of December off again.
It made the holiday season so much more enjoyable.
You might be worried about what you’re missing by not being constantly connected. FOMO is real. But it doesn’t have to control your life.
In fact, once you go on break, you’ll realize that your FOMO isn’t really that bad after all.
Don’t worry about FOMO — embrace it.