Could you live without social media for an extended period of time? Everywhere you look people are gazing longingly into a phone screen as if under a trance; giving more attention to their hand than the people in front of them. In fact, we are so in tune with our phones and social media outlets there are now physical ailments associated with phone use (text neck!), not to mention social media/internet addiction.
The thing is, our world revolves around social media: selling, networking, marketing, news, planning, etc. You can’t easily wander through this world without an online presence. And as a mom, well, it’s how we stay connected with the ‘real world,” right? It’s where we seek recipe and craft ideas, post photos and witty anecdotes about our mothering mayhem, and obsess over commenting, liking and staying up to speed on everyone and everything in your feed.
It validates, guides and disconnects us. That’s right – disconnects us. We think we’re engaged in life, but really, we’re on autopilot. We’re seeking validation from an automated feed – post and a handful of your “friends” will immediately provide feedback. You start posting just for the high of validation. Or you spend countless hours revisiting your feed, following folks you know better online than in person, commenting, liking almost as if you’re required.
We think we’re connecting with “friends” but really we’re liking posts with a trigger finger and making stock comments; there is no true dialogue. And at its worst, you start to feel lacking in some area of your life based on selective information – Why wasn’t I invited? She looks so good! I should learn to crochet.– because you’re caught up in a digital world, not the real world.
This is not all individuals or moms, but sadly, this was me. I have no shame in making that statement given I’m quite certain I’m not alone. And so, I decided to change my relationship with Facebook: we took a break. I deactivated my account and for three months I was Facebook free. And guess what? I didn’t miss it!
I thought for sure I’d go through some kind of withdrawal, my mind constantly wandering to thoughts of those I’d left behind…. um, yeah (insert pathetic eye roll here); but what happened instead was I started to engage in my real life.
I connected more with my kids. They used to be as fascinated with my phone as me; trying to sneak away with it to figure out what this glowing, magical box offered that was so good mommy rarely put it down. Now the phone sits on a shelf in a different room. So now the endless, needless photos have stopped and I’ve started really living in the moment rather than wasting time trying to capture a Kodak moment.
Instead of scrolling through my feed while they play nearby, I interact with my kids. (Toddler dialogue can be every bit as amusing as social media – sometimes more!) Plus, the half-listening, completely distracted stance is a thing of the past. It also apparently has a name: Phone + Snubbing = Phubbing. You know, where you’re so engrossed in your phone you ignore your kids, friends, coworkers, etc.
My 489 “friends” dwindled to those I actually had in my contact list and I started communicating with them – really communicating. Not just seeing their lives scroll by in my feed, but calling or sending notes to find out what was new. And it went both ways; friends reached out, sending me notes and calling to check in. It led to face-to-face meet ups where my phone stayed in my bag (on vibrate – I’m a mom!). Now we are genuinely connecting, really engaging in one another’s lives; no more superficial interactions fed to us by a screen.
I read more books, watch more TV and definitely get more done. My word, the amount of time I’ve recovered in my life since backing off of Facebook is insane. Without Facebook to entertain me, the laundry and dishes aren’t so easily ignored. I also learned a lot about myself. When you’re no longer distracted by myriads of data, you can quiet your mind and internalize.
Sadly, I realize now, Facebook became an escape from my real life. It was this handheld world where just a tap could transport me to an endless stream of validation, while getting lost in others’ lives. I could live my life through status updates, no true interaction required – what funny or clever thing could I say for some love? – and instead of experiencing a not-so perfect moment I could focus instead on the perfect, always perfect, totally obsessed in capturing it, picture.
When you start living for your next status update or capturing the perfect photo for posting, you need to ask yourself if you have a problem or if you’re avoiding the real world. For me, deactivating my Facebook account was an experiment in living life without the constant glow of a screen or the need for validation from someone I know better online than in person.
I returned to Facebook so I could stay involved in certain activities I enjoy – blogging, group invites, support pages, kids’ school postings, event invites. However, I immediately felt extremely exposed after so many months of being “off the feed.” Why do my friends need to know everything I like or comment on? So now I read, but rarely post, comment or like and I’m quite certain no one notices or misses me.
In the end, my relationship status with Facebook has changed and it’s not complicated. It now provides a service for following companies, products, and friends; it entertains and connects me, but it no longer validates or defines me and my relationships. It’s a necessity, not a need. Disconnecting helped me connect with myself and my real life and I’m going to make every effort to keep it that way. #truth #authenticself #disconnecttoconnect