Updated: Jun 14
Social media... a topic as popular as marmite. Some love it, some hate it. This is my story on how I gave purpose to these platforms rather than allowing them to frame my experience.
I shared my experience with social media on a post by Chris Williams. The subject was: whether social media is or isn't to blame for the thing's fingers are being pointed at it for. This included: increases in divorce and increases suicide cases. In response to my comment Militza Rosaria mentioned,
"I’ve taken six months off posting consistently but I can’t imagine my life without Social Media!"
This encouraged me to pause and re-relefect on the impact of my decision 3 years ago, and inspired me to share - thank you Militza!
My relationship with social media used to be what I would now call, "toxic". That word is thrown around a lot lately so I'm intentionally using it in its most literal sense:
It was my untrue dumping ground - Sharing memes and videos I found amusing, all the while commenting negatively on posts I felt offended by or triggered me negatively. And, only posting about the good things in life; the fancy events, the holiday locations, the sexy food etc... I truly felt like appearance was everything and I wanted to be in control of people's perception of me.
It was a time waster - I drove myself into insomnia, to the point where 4am was the normal bed-time despite what time my alarm was set for! It consumed time on lunch breaks, it ruled boredom, socialisation was heavily disrupted with the focus being on my phone not my friends, creative time was neglected and on occasion... scrolling endlessly through videos was prioritised over life-ing meaning my environment was a mess.
It was destructive to my wellbeing - Spending so much time on these platforms I didn't realise the algorithm adapts to my usage. So, the more I interacted with the negative posts rather than the positive, the more I saw of them. Which in the end heightened my anxiety and lowered my mood. I became pessimistic and negatively charged which was the complete opposite of my natural self and the person I knew.
Based on the above, it was so easy to point all fingers at social media being the bad guy. But, through developing my self-awareness and creating a break from all platforms, I learned quickly that it was the largest contributor to the source of my out-of-character-ness.
I'd learned recently that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. So, I decided to do it. I knew going cold turkey wouldn't work. I'm the kind of person who if you take something away from me, I just want it more. So here's what I did:
Step 1: Delete all the apps. This meant I could only access them from their websites which let's be honest, isn't the best experience on a phone.
Step 2: Form habits in place of time on my phone. I created time for myself and others and put my phone on 'Do Not Disturb' or one better, left it in another room or a bag.
Step 3: Keep doing this until I'm ready to reflect, learn and grow... then use the time more consciously.
On this, what ended up being an unplanned 2-year long break and journey of self-awareness, I realised that I didn't miss any of the platforms.. but, I wanted to run my own business.
This creation of space in my daily life meant I identified very quickly my wants and needs. In fact, I was able to problem-solve better, became quicker at decision making, could identify my feelings again and began to remember what happiness, peace and space felt like.
When I realised that I'd have to reevaluate my relationship with social media, my Coach helped me give it a new vision and purpose to guide shaping my business.
I took the time to really learn how each platform worked. Assess if it would be of any benefit to me and if so, how? How does it add value? And, how can I positively impact the space it will use in my day, everyday?
Fast-forward 12 months and it's awesome! I use it to my advantage! The top 3 effects it now has for me are:
Connecting = Meeting new people every single day from all kinds of backgrounds anywhere in the world with their own unique stories.
Vocalisation = As I'm not representing a company anymore I can be completely authentic. And I only post or comment when I'm adding value.
Inspiration = The ability to see in my feeds those who I learn from, admire and support.
Notice how those earlier 3 points were long and emotionally attached vs these 3 which highlight value and benefit... social media hasn't done that. I did this!
I took the time to stop playing the blame game and realise I was responsible for allowing it to consume me. It was up to me to transform my mindset so that I could create a meaningful and useful relationship with social media.
There's a lot of blame being placed on the negative effects of the use of social platforms and when we take ownership for our own responsibility of our actions, all of that changes.
I challenge you to step away for at least 1 month to evaluate and reshape your relationship with social media, if you accept this challenge let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.