As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time on social media for both work and play, I thought this might be difficult, but to my surprise my week of Digital Detox wasn’t difficult at all, in fact, I took to it like a duck to water.
I relished in the permission I gave myself to be free, not looking at my phone, in being present to my loved ones around me, in taking the time to just be. I felt peaceful and happy and it lead me to think, maybe this is a non-issue? It seemed there were no big insights or revelations to report, no earth shattering changes, and then…I went back to social media. Boom. The lesson hit.
Within minutes of being back in the social media game I started to feel that familiar low level anxiety that has plagued me for several years now, but that I had assumed was coming from some yet undetermined source. But after a week of pulling away and then coming back to it, there could be no denying it; my time spent on social media was causing my anxiety. Houston! We have a problem.
The thing is, I have to be on social media. In fact, several of my blogs here are dedicated to it. As an independent content creator it is my one and only source for publicity and without publicity we don’t exist, we’re wasting our time. Social media is a must, or so I’ve told myself, but at what cost? I realized quickly I am going to have to dive deeper and find some middle ground in order to make this work.
Since I truly can’t throw the baby out with the bath water, my first task was to identify what specifically about social media was causing me anxiety.
This was not an easy thing to figure out because there are parts of it that bring me unbridled joy (mainly all the funny and heartfelt videos and quotes people share, and the ease with which I can keep track of all the many people I love) but as I consciously analyzed it further I realized that what might be the problem is the sheer amount of information that can be thrown at you in literally minutes, let alone hours spent on social media.
In one short trip down the timeline I could be exposed to a friend losing a parent, another friends hilarious new show just released, an anger inducing article about a new government policy, then a snopes article about how that article was untrue, then the cutest puppy you’ve ever seen in your life, an article about a breakthrough technology that will change the world as we’ve known it, a reminder about a new movie I want to see, and a veritable smorgasbord of extremism and political “debate” (of which I will use the term loosely because its mostly just yelling at each other) and that’s just in the first 30 seconds.
I’m realizing its not that I can’t handle any one piece of information, its that it’s an unnatural amount of information all at once!! I’ve never been much of a skim-the-surface kind of girl, those who know me well, know that I listen deep and love hard, which is why it should have been no surprise to me that this much information shared all at once can result in circuits blown, but it was a surprise, a surprise I am still barely processing.
So what to do about it? Well for starters I turned off all notifications so that when I am on, I’m on, but when I’m off, I’m off.
Next I’m planning to continue giving myself permission to limit the amount of time I am on social media, even though my monkey brain wants to tell me that will be a disaster. “What about all my fellow content creator friends? Surely they can’t live without me?” I’m just gonna tell the monkey brain to settle down, its the holidays. I’m sure my social media relationships can stand the test of time until I can figure this out a bit.
And third, when I am on social media I am going to be more disciplined, something I never realized I needed to be. I am going to actively choose to limit what I see (a) by practicing the art of skimming and non-attachment and (b) by curating my lists and timelines a bit more carefully. For e.g. among the things I will automatically not pay attention to will be the news (I will receive news only from vetted, factual, non-opinion based news sources assuming those exist) and I will also actively ignore people’s opinions of the news, unless the opinion comes from a moderate who is genuinely trying to learn and share.
Yes I promise to myself here and now that no matter how twitchy I get, I will do my absolute best not to fall into the trap of engaging with extremists of any flavor on social media, particularly those who don’t know they’re extremists, as I realize now that all it does is create the illusion that I am accomplishing something, when really I’m actually just giving them my energy and therefore power.
What I will still respond to and give my energy to is all you lovely people. The conversations with all of you is the highlight of my day, so keep them coming and I will keep the blogs coming.
Unless you tell me you want to hear more about this topic, I will be back to my usual tales of an independent producer starting next week. And that leads me to…
Industry Tip # 33
Social media is more powerful than you think. Its helpful to create some disciplines and healthy boundaries around it in order to stay balanced.
And without further ado I leave you with another Holiday Tip from Tallulah for all our friends who are spending time with their families right now.