I yearn for the summers of my youth where the days belonged to joy, relaxation and vitality. Summers that smelled of sunscreen and freshly cut grass, and where you’d raise your face to the sun, like a sunflower following the rays. I pine for the days of reading in a lounge chair on the back deck, running through sprinklers, eating fresh fruit on the patio with the juices dripping down my fingers and arms.
I long for the days when my instant reaction to boredom or a moment waiting isn’t to pull out my phone and scroll through social media; the days when I’ll spend more time creating content than aimlessly consuming content. I wish to rid myself of the feeling of constant connection, of twitching if I haven’t checked Facebook or of tallying up the number of likes and comments on a photo.
This summer, as an experiment, these two shall go hand in hand. From mid-June (the 15th) until the end of August, I vow to go social-free! My own social media detox. Call it madness, call it impossible, but I call it an experiment in living.
That feels like an awfully long time, and even I am concerned that I won’t achieve it, but I’d rather stumble and have tried than to have never attempted the break.
Why am I REALLY doing this?
Because I want to test a theory. The theory is that I spend far more time living virtually than I do in reality. The theory is that I am unconsciously comparing my life to lives lived on Instagram and Facebook, the quippy Twitter one-liners or obsessing over home design on Pinterest that I’ll likely never afford.
I have no hatred for social media – none whatsoever. But I’m addicted to it, just like millions of others around the world. It’s my go-to while waiting in lines, in elevators, in the drive through line, on the couch, on the bus, when I wake up, and even – ashamedly – while bathing my son. He’ll be playing in the water, which I’ve seen hundreds of times before, and I’ll scroll through updates that aren’t actually all that new… considering I saw the same ‘update’ just hours (minutes) before. It’s too much. I’m too disconnected. My brain feels like putty and I’m constantly looking for my next social hit.
If I’m to model a healthy relationship with social media to my son, then I have to know what that feels like. What withdrawal is like, how to fill my time without it (hard to believe it’s only been about 10 years since it slowly invaded my freetime).
What EXACTLY does this look like?
It means removing social apps from my phone, so as not to be tempted. It means a ban from YouTube, because there is nothing worse (and enjoyable, to be fair), than going down the rabbit hole of Mojo Top 10 videos and past interviews on the Graham Norton shows until you suddenly realize it’s 10 p.m.and you’ve wasted nearly two hours surfing. It means that if people want to message me, they’re going to have to do it through text, email and Whatsapp! I was SO TEMPTED to include Facebook Messenger as part of my “what’s allowed” category, but I thought… that’s just asking for trouble. This also means that if I want a recipe, I’m gonna have to Google it. Pinterest-free for 10 weeks will be an interesting endeavour for sure.
What are my social media detox rules?
Let’s be honest here. I create content on this blog that I hope for people to read. I would be a fool to assume that people will suddenly sign up for my blog’s newsletter, so as not to miss a post (though that would be lovely…), so my social media exception will be to share recent posts on my Girl Tries Life Facebook page. You might call this cheating, but particularly as it relates to the women whom I interview for the podcast, I would do them a disservice not to share the episodes that they’ve so graciously given their time and attention to.
As far as YouTube is concerned, my exception will be for workout videos only. I am a big fan of the Tonic page on YouTube for yoga videos, so I’d like to keep that going.
Now… my husband believes that blogs are social media. This is where I disagree with him. By my definition, blogs are a form of media, of content, no different than reading the Huffington Post. Perhaps they’re less reliable sources of information (although again, I’d disagree on that one…), but they’re a form of journalism, of storytelling, of advice-sharing. Blogs are in. It just means I have to go straight to the source rather than following a blog’s Facebook feed for 10 weeks.
Will you join me?
I’m not saying go for the full 10 weeks – although if you want to, power to you! Why not start with 10 days? See how you feel? Experience the impact on your mood, changes to your habits, how you’re filling your free time. Like many detoxes, usually food-related, 10 days is a good amount of time to rid your body of an addiction.
So, if you’re considering joining me, comment below so that I can cheer you on!
If a social media detox is too much for you, here’s my plea – if you’re one of the millions of folks addiction to social media the way that I am, try your best to take advantage of this summer (or winter as the case may be). Experiment by not photographing a meal, by not hashtagging a special moment or by asking a real-life friend for their favourite recipe.
My theory… is that there will be some adjustment pains for sure, but that the other side can be just as sweet.
Will I go back to social media after 10 weeks? Sure. But I hope it’s with a renewed focus, sense of purpose, and that I retain my life in the land of the living, rather than behind a screen.