Today’s post I want to talk about my experience with a true social media fast, and what I learned from it. I hope that you will be encouraged to try it for yourself and hopefully it will benefit you, too.
I managed my entire career from social media platforms of different kinds, and just like the rest of us, get caught mindlessly scrolling through photo after photo of someone else’s life, and wondering why isn’t mine like that? The last three years of my career have been amazing— in some ways, unimaginable to me five years ago that I would work so hard and so so much of what I have always wanted to do, I would. I have accomplished nearly all of the goals I wanted by this age when I was younger (some, even sooner.) And yet, even having all of my “goals” coming true, I STILL compare myself to strangers on the internet. How does her tan look so good? Mine looks good for two days, then get’s splotchy and terrible. She had a child six months ago, how does she have her abs back when I have never had a child, and don’t even have the body she has…. How are they going on another vacation? Don’t they work, or have responsibilities like the rest of us? How is she gaining followers by the thousands, when I can’t seem to get past what I am at now, regardless of my efforts? How are they the cutest, happiest couple in the world, and I can barely find time or commitment for a second date?
Yep, I’ve been there.
Totally been there.
What we say, what we see, and what we hear begin to become a part of who we are.
So what are you saying, what are you looking at, and what are you listening to?
For me, this concept was mostly centered around social media and constantly staring into the highlights of other people’s lives, wondering why I don’t have THAT life, even though I have an amazing life, one I have built over time, worked insanely hard for, and am so, so proud of.
I think about this a lot. And there was a time that I really really felt like I wasn’t measuring up, I wasn’t doing what a blogger should be doing, and I wasn’t making the money, or success I wanted to… Even though I AM successful and I DO make money, compared to the people I saw on instagram, I was starting to feel smaller and smaller, and like I had less and less, and was genuinely ungrateful for what I had worked so hard for.
Most of the time, I am very self motivated. I rarely get jealous of other people, I just use it as motivation to get it, to do it, or to have it. I believe we create the lives we want, but there was a period of about three weeks where I found myself really down, and I decided that I needed to start “stopping and smelling the roses-not just taking pictures of them” as my mother once said.
I heard a “challenge” given by the Prophet of the LDS church, President Russell M. Nelson, about the importance of social media breaks, and he challenged people to take a 7 day social media fast. I was intrigued by this invitation because it had been weighing on my mind what kind of effects I was having from allowing that much constant exposure to strangers I didn’t know anything about other than what they let me see, and if that was part of the reason I wasn’t appreciating myself, or my life.
To be honest, when I first heard about it, my first response was “No way, that would be like calling in sick to work for 7 days. Half my career is on social media. There is no way I can do that.”
But I decided I wanted to try it. I wondered if part of the reason I was in such a bad mood about life was because I was so consumed with other people’s lives. So I did it. I deleted my instagram app, facebook app, snapchat app, and any other social media app I had.
I’ll admit I was a little short, about 5 days (maybe 6) I decided to get back on and it had served its purpose. Regardless, it was a really eye opening experience for me, and I want to share with you all what I learned…
1. Comparison really is the thief of joy
During that time of not being on social media, I had nobody to compare myself to except for… myself. I thought a lot about the progress I had made from who I was a year ago, even six months ago, in my business, and in my personal life. It may sound strange, but I was the only person I could compare myself to because I wasn’t focused or looking at anyone else’s lives. I started to really REALLY stop and think about what I had accomplished in these short three years, and I felt content with how far I had come, and not discouraged with how far I had yet to go, but motivated to get there.
2. Energy is a real thing
Social media is like going to a hundred parties, or spending 3 hours a day in crowds of hundreds— or thousands of people. Sure, you don’t have to dress up or do you make-up— you can scroll on your phone in your PJ’s eating ice cream for all anybody notices, but I think its more similar than you think. Hundreds of pictures, conversations, comments, opinions, styles, thoughts, idea, etc are all expressed over and over again as you scroll and scroll, or click and click.
That is draining.
I didn’t realize it until I had spent 5 days reading books, calling my family, and journaling that I realized how emotionally and mentally exhausting it can be.
3. I love my life, but I don’t enjoy my life
I work hard, I work a lot. Some of my friends might tell you I’m a workaholic, or that I don’t know how to not be working. They are quite possibly correct. I have struggled to find balance in my life of work and play since I was born. I am naturally drawn to productivity, results, and personal achievements. Its who I am, it’s who i’ve always been. But when you are so busy and distracted scrolling through pictures, it’s hard to really stop and see what is AROUND you. What you have built for yourself, instead you are just comparing what you have to what THEY have, and you are constantly finding things that you want, or think you need.
When I had my phone shut off, I had more time to think, analyze and be less distracted my what I WANTED and what I already HAD. I was able to (literally) look around more at what I had, and not down at what I wanted, or had to gain. I felt more content, and I felt a deep sense of accomplishment when I stopped to actually ackowledge what I had done. Don’t get me wrong, I am “put your head down and hustle” kind of person, I stay focused, some may say I hyper focus. I dislike distraction and in that process I quite literally forgot to LOOK UP at what was around me, what I had already accomplished or have.
4. Human connection is important
You can’t fake it. When babies are born skin to skin contact with their mothers is vital to their growth. Are we babies? No, but we’re human and studies have shown that people who interact with people that care and love them are happier, and creates a more meaningful connection and purpose in life than those found on social media, or texting. Spend a little more time with people, and less time looking at what people have.
If life is so much happier off social media, then why do I still have it? That’s a question you might be asking, and also a question I asked myself. Truth is, social media has been a really amazing opportunity in my life, but everything—- and I mean everything—has i’ts opposite. So I discovered it’s about balance. If you spend 3 hours a day scrolling through your phone, are you spending 3 hours a day with your phone on silent, doing something else? I realized it had been years YEARS since I had gone more than 24 hours not on my phone. And I realized what a toll that was taking. I don’t want to discourage you from doing this, or from putting social media in a bad light because I have found it to be a huge blessing in my life, but I do feel like it’s easy to spent too much time focusing on it, and not enough balance.
I really hope that you will find balance in your life. That you will stop and actually smell the roses, not just take pictures of them. That you will find joy in what you DO have, and all the amazing wonderful things around you.