My “dry” month of January: what I learned from a month without social media
Then I took a deep breath.
I knew I would still need to log into my social accounts to watch videos for work. But I wanted — and maybe needed — the relentless, distracting scrolling on social media to stop.
Thirty days later, here’s what I learned.
Scrolling is an addiction
It was mandatory. During the first week of January, I picked up my phone at least once an hour for no reason other than to scroll through my social media feeds. With apps no longer available to open, I hesitated with my thumb above the home screen, unsure of what to do next.
Just hanging up the phone felt like an admission of defeat. Surely there was something else I was using this device every three minutes. I could look in my camera roll to see what I had been up to the past few days. Or browse the CNN app. Usually, I skimmed through previously read work emails to make sure I hadn’t missed anything important.
Does this sound sad to you? It was sad for me.
You can do a lot in minutes
True friendships take time
My husband was away on a month long work trip over the holidays, and when he got back I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Too bad these roofs have been dismantled. One by one, I sent text messages to his mother and my mother and my colleagues and our mutual friends. A few cramped fingers later, I was done.
It’s not me complaining. I am incredibly grateful to have a support network of family and friends. But cultivating those relationships outside of the fake world of social media takes time and energy. I called and asked how they were doing, instead of just browsing through their stories. I set dinner dates instead of sitting on my couch watching their dinner from afar. Over time, I learned which friendships I would devote that energy to, who would give it back to me, and which friends were mostly online acquaintances.
To be clear, I need both types of friends. I need the ones who send me memes at 1am (how I missed memes!) and I need the ones I can call at 1am when my hubby misses something fierce. A month without social media reminded me how important it is to hang out with my favorite people in real life.
Daydreaming is a decent pastime
Social media isn’t all bad. Yeah, I’m people doing stupid stunts and strangers fuming about their political views. But I also like to follow travel photographers, small house advocates, and do-it-yourselfers who are all more creative than I’ll ever be. I follow a 75-year-old weightlifter on Instagram who could kick my ass. (Apparently 35 is too early to give up and kiss the couch *insert shrug emoji*)
These people inspire me. They help me imagine a world in which I live in 250 square feet without murdering my husband at the foot of a mountain range in Italy, next to a turquoise lake where I paddleboard daily to maintain my abs, in waiting to paint it to dry on my latest craft project.
Without social media, I lost some of those daydreams. That too was sad.
Now that it’s February, I’m bringing back some of the apps. I could use the extra dopamine… and the occasional distraction from the real world.
I will disconnect from those who often lead me into the black holes of discourse. And try tackling my to-do list before I scroll down (hey, I found time to write this post).
I will also intend to make plans to see the people I love in person, often. As much as I love memes, this kind of IRL connection is unbeatable.