Over the last couple of months, I have made it a point to be on social media less and less. Last week I decided to take it one step further and make that break more permanent. I deleted the apps from my phone, and purposefully haven’t checked anything, just as an experiment. What I realized, is that being on these platforms so much was draining my energy and keeping me from really serving my purpose fully. So officially, my relationship with social media is changing. My goals for helping you find and create your best life haven’t changed, but the way that I’m doing that will be shifting a little bit.
Because I have to admit, I got sucked in. I fell down the rabbit hole…many times.
It always started with the best of intentions…post a picture and some words that I thought would give people a smile, or encourage them, and then move on to get other things done. But then, I would start scrolling.
There was never a shortage of quotes to read and amazing pictures to see. I wanted to support my fellow content creators and business owners, so I tried to like, comment, share, and do all the things that I knew would help their accounts survive and grow, for every person I could.
But the longer I was on there, the more disconnected and drained I felt. And this was true despite the fact that I only follow people who post uplifting content. In essence, I was no longer present.
It took me a little while to realize what was actually happening, but once I did, I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
My biggest resistance to making the break more permanent was fear and my ego.
It’s not easy at first. We have become so programmed to grab our phones when we’re feeling bored or uncomfortable. Or if we get a notification, we almost can’t resist seeing what it says and clicking through. The notifications give you just enough information to hook you in, but not enough to actually tell you anything without going onto the platform. Because of this, I was constantly looking at my phone. When I posted something, I was checking for comments and trying to answer them quickly. When someone else posted, I wanted to like and comment quickly to help them.
If I didn’t click into the platforms and at least check my notifications a few times a day, I felt like I was missing out. If I didn’t scroll all the way through my feed, and like everyone’s pictures, and comment, I felt like I wasn’t being supportive of others. If I took a day away from social media, I felt like I was being selfish.
My ego poked at me, “If you’re not on social media, no one will be able to find you. You need those likes, comments, and all of that to succeed”. But I finally realized that my ego is like someone who is doing things just to get attention, someone who doesn’t care about how what they are doing affects you overall.
Just like those people in your life, who drain your energy when you’re around them, who demand your time without regard for your well-being, you have to set boundaries with yourself.
And in the same way that people often bite back when we set boundaries with them, our egos bite back when we set boundaries with ourselves.
All of those things that I was feeling were my ego and my fear pushing against any boundaries I was trying to set.
Taking time for myself is not selfish, it’s self-care. There are other ways to be supportive of those around me, that don’t involve draining my energy. And no matter which way I went, I could say that I was missing out on something. Either I’m out, experiencing things and missing out on what people post, or I’m seeing what people post and missing out on experiencing things.
I want to be able to help people; to give people a smile. My whole goal in starting The Novel Turtle was to help people find and create their best lives. But if I’m doing that to the detriment of myself, it’s not going to last very long.
So, I have to trust that, if this is something that my intuition has told me to do, then it will work out. Instead of fear, I’ll have faith in the universe, and in my own abilities.
How will this change what I’m doing? (Revised 11/16/21)
For starters, I will still be posting on social media from time to time. It may not be every day, or even every other day, but I won’t be completely absent. I want to use my social media to enhance what I’m doing on my website, and to make people’s day better in some way.
If you don’t have social media, or you would rather not spend time on those platforms, but you would like to see what I post, email me and let me know – firstname.lastname@example.org I’ll send you a special email with whatever I’m posting on social media, whether it be a picture, a quote, or just something silly that happens to me that day.
My emails will still be the primary way that I will connect with people, and those on my email list will still be the first to know about any giveaways or special announcements. So be sure that you’re signed up for my Happy Mail emails.
My goal moving forward, is to send out (almost) weekly emails, and spend most of my time creating longer form content, like my blog posts.
I want to support you more, in the best way that I can, while still being true to myself.
All of these social media platforms are great in their own way, but they are also a business, driven by making money and keeping people on their particular platform. They aren’t entirely wrong…just best enjoyed in smaller doses.
And please don’t think that I’m bashing anyone who is on social media, or trying to make anyone feel bad. Everyone needs to find what is right for them, and make decisions for their lives based on that. If social media is your jam…jam on. I support whatever each person feels is best for them.
This is what I’m feeling led to do right now…to be more present in my life.
If you are happy, and social media is your thing, do you. But if you are questioning at all, I would encourage you to take a break.
Delete the apps from your phone for a few days and see how you feel. At the very least, turn off any and all notifications. That way you aren’t tempted to look at each one of them. Find other ways to work through the boredom or uncomfortable feelings that make you want to grab your phone.
Try finding new things you might enjoy doing, or a way that you can reach out to people and make them smile, that doesn’t require social media. Take a walk, read that book you’ve been wanting to read, plant some flowers. The possibilities are endless.
I would also invite you to be more discerning with what you are filling your time with each day. Instead of scrolling endlessly, or feeling like you have to look at everyone’s content to get to the few that you want to see, unfollow some of the ones that you never really look at anyway.
On that note…don’t feel bad if you need to unfollow someone who is posting things that make you feel bad about yourself, or drag you down in any way. If you don’t feel comfortable unfollowing people, you can always just hide their posts. (You can do this without anyone knowing.)
If you’re always scrolling and trying to find certain people’s content because you enjoy it so much, try picking a few (maybe 3-5), and following their emails if they have them. Follow them off of social media platforms and really dive into their content for a while. Then switch around as you learn, grow, and are led to others.
In this way, you’ll have the ability to gain more from their content, and not feel so overwhelmed by all of the different information being thrown at you. You can take the time to take in what they put out there versus feeling like you have to read through it all before it gets lost somewhere in your feed or their stories.
If you’re a content creator, or have a business, and you’re trying to gauge whether or not you should change your relationship with social media…I encourage you to look at a few things:
How many times have you stopped your flow of work or creativity so you could post on social media at “the right time”? How much time do you spend each day on social media, and are there other things you could do with that time to move the needle forward faster for yourself? How many times have you seen people talking about how to make the algorithms happy? How often do you feel like you’re posting to appease the algorithms, rather than posting because you genuinely feel like you have something of value to offer your audience? How do you feel after spending time on any of those platforms?
I know we’re all doing what we do to ultimately help people, but sometimes that gets lost. These were questions that I had to get real with myself about. They helped me to see how it was taking time away from doing things that could serve in a better way, and taking energy away from me in general.
Personally, I’ve seen more and more creators getting more and more discouraged with social media because they feel like they can’t keep up with the constantly changing demands of the platforms. I’ve seen more and more people in general saying that they feel like these platforms are hurting their mental health, rather than helping it, even if they only follow people who only post positive, helpful things.
It seems like, those people that are fans of your work don’t see it if you’re not jumping through the hoops, because you drop in the lineup of “relevant posts”. Relevance is being defined more by which people are posting the right things at the right times, or paying to be seen, rather than what people actually want to see.
I know, to some extent, anyone who has a business online has to play the game – SEO, algorithms, and all of that. But eventually, we all have to choose which games are draining our energy and which ones are allowing us to really reach out and help people.
I apologize if this offends anyone, because that’s not my intention with this post.
I’m not attempting to judge or call anyone out. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad for their habits, or anything of the sort. My goal is not to convince you to do what I’m doing. I simply want to share where I am on my personal journey, to let you know where I’ve been and where I’ll be, and to encourage those that might be feeling like I did.
Feel free to disagree with me…that’s what makes the world go round. If we all agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place.
Whatever your position is on this subject, I encourage you to do what is best for you, and allow others to do the same.
The way I view it is this – If the goal is to create a life that we don’t need to escape from, then we need to stop leaning on the forms of escape that are keeping us from being present. Social media has its place in this world, but we have to be careful not to let it take over and make us feel worse in the process.