First off, I have no regrets and I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I'm considering it. At the very least, I will be limiting my time on Facebook and Instagram every day. Perhaps I will only allow myself on it once a week. I'm not entirely sure, but I believe I will land on what feels right for me. Ultimately, I learned that I can live without social media and still be connected.
It's the pressure. Social media puts this pressure on us that we don't even realize. There is pressure to stay up-to-date on current trends, news, and events. There is pressure to wish your "friends" a happy birthday. [I say, "friends," because let's be honest, we aren't true friends with all our Facebook friends.] There is pressure to like or heart certain things, maybe comment on others. We don't want to miss anything, so we check our notifications or scroll the newsfeed when we have nothing to do for a few minutes. We feel pressure to post the perfect picture. To say what we want without alienating one of our "friends." Or maybe we don't want to offend our true friends.
It's different for each of us, I suppose. But I know that I didn't feel any pressure in January because I wasn't trying to keep up with the Joneses. I didn't feel less-than after scrolling by the latest updates from people. I didn't feel jealous of a new pet, a new car, a new house, or a new phone. I didn't feel behind on other's people lives; I didn't feel bad for not seeing a post about a friend's loss or struggle until days later. I didn't feel left out.
How ironic is that last sentence, by the way? Social media is marketed as a way to bring us together. And it does in many ways. But it's also isolating for many people. It's probably isolating for most people, actually, but nobody realizes it. They just keep on scrolling and keep on feeling the dopamine hits.
I have a unique perspective about social media for many reasons. Mostly because of the different value I have placed on it over the course of the last 13 years. I used it to connect with friends and family as a new mother in 2008. That's when I would answer Facebook's "prompt" that read, "What are you up to?" as my post. [Thank you, Facebook Memories, for the gems I often get to read.] Then, I started to use social media to connect with other like-minded people. For example, when I began training for a half-marathon and lose weight, I joined many running groups to read advice, training schedules, and favorite gear options. That's when I became a fitness coach and started connecting with all sorts of people - old friends, friends of friends, parents, runners, cat ladies, CrossFitters, sports coaches, etc. Connection was my livelihood. At this point in my life, Facebook practically became an extension of my arm. I was hooked.
Years later, I was unable to run and workout like I used to due to injury, and I fell hard into the comparison game that Facebook plays. Every time I would scroll, I would feel depressed looking at what other people were competing in, accomplishing, and crushing. Instead of being happy for my friends, I felt contempt. I felt left out. I felt like a loser. A has-been. As if I didn't need more reminders of what my body used to be able to do and what it couldn't do now. But I never once thought to myself to leave Facebook. Gosh, no. And miss everything?
Little did I realize that what I thought was keeping me connected (even in the midst of my turmoil with injury), was actually making me feel more alone. As a person who suffers from anxiety, the basis of almost every thought derives from fear. Part of me had a major case of FOMO when it came to social media. Because what if my friends didn't text me or email me or call me if I "got off" social media? If I didn't communicate over Facebook, how would I ever thrive on connection? What would people think of me if I just "left them" in groups and not participate for weeks? Those "what ifs" stopped me from pulling the plug. So I remained "connected," while still remaining largely unhappy every time I scrolled.
It felt like the right time to disconnect. 2020 was the year we all wanted to forget in so many ways. I chose FORWARD for my word in 2021. What better way to move forward than to leave my proverbial baggage behind? I am still working on me. But January allowed me to reset. To recharge. To create new habits.
I am trying meditation some mornings. I'm writing more. I'm walking. Listening to podcasts - which gets me thinking or buying books. So then I write again. I have gotten my best month of sleep ever (NodPods, don't fail me now). I'm more intentional with my time. I am a better listener. I am more reflective. I hope I've been a better mother, wife, daughter, teammate, and friend.
I feel good. I feel good about myself and my decision. I feel empowered to continue to make choices that make sense for me. I don't feel the pressure anymore. Pressure that I now realize came from within.