I’m taking a break (sort of) from the social media zoo

by Denise Dykstra

Last week, I met up with a handful of friends and forgot to take a photo of us all. This is so unlike me! I usually love getting photos of us all because I, primarily, want to remember the moment and I am determined to take photos of us for that reason.

Also, I like to post it on social media. Partly because I like to see it come up in my “memories” every year, and partly because I like to post fun, encouraging things.

All I took was a picture of the amazing outdoor fireplace we were gathered around.

I was so happy we were all together. I was interested in everyone’s news. I wanted to hear how the summer was going for my friends. I wanted to know all the things that were going on.

My conversations lately have been like this. “I didn’t know!” I find myself saying often now. “Tell me more!”

This spring when the war broke out, I was bombarded with news stories about Ukraine and my poor heart couldn’t take it. It broke over the stories, primarily of the soldiers first, because my son and his friends are military (I wrote about this when it happened), and then the families being displaced just were heart wrenching — anyone else remember all the strollers at the train station?).

Added to all that, I could not handle all the yelling at each other from behind a keyboard. I knew I needed a change.

What I did felt drastic. It still feels surprising to me that after all this time has passed, I am still holding on to this practice.

I limited my social media intake to one hour a day.

It was easy to do. I simply set a timer on my phone. It tracks my login time, and when I have reached the hour it asks me if I need one more minute, fifteen minutes or ignore for the day.

The change has made quite the dramatic difference in my life, primarily in my mental state of being. Not being caught up in local or news drama feels like such a relief to my very soul.

Now, before you think I am against social media, I would like to let you know I have long been a big promoter. When others talk of the evil of it all, I can easily point out the good of it. These words you are reading? Totally going to be shared on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and my website today. I am so very not antisocial media.

But my mind could only take so much information in. The less I am on social media, the more my brain feels more settled.

My audiobook intake has gone up dramatically. Before my break, I would be listening to an audio book or podcast and mindlessly scrolling my phone at the same time and later I would find

I wasn’t really listening to my audio book. I would pause it to go back to it later. But then I would forget to finish them and half finished podcasts and partly finished books were always on my phone.

I also realized how much I reached for my phone to “just check it a second.” Now, I know just checking it is taking up my allotted amount of time, so I work at making sure my time on social media is intentional.

I like to scroll and see all the fun photos, etc., but I find if I am not interacting on social media (that means not just liking, actually commenting), it somehow makes me feel more lonely when I get off of it.

I’ve also found that when I am around friends I am connecting with a lot, I don’t miss social media. But also, when I am in a room of strangers, I miss feeling connected to friends via my social media apps. This summer has me on a schedule in which I don’t see all the people I usually do when attending games at school, or Bible study at church, and I miss people and interacting with them.

What I found most surprising is how dependent we have become on using Facebook as our means to get any information out. In some ways, I feel it has ruined our conversations.

When I look at someone and say, “No, I didn’t know that. Tell me more!” they look at me suspiciously, like I really should have?

Knowing I have a time limit keeps me more intentional about what I post as well. Because I still love connecting and even if I am not on social media much, if I am there it is totally because I want to connect with others. So I am going to post that we picked blueberries, or someone’s info they needed sharing (awesome garage sale on Friday in town!), I am intentional about it.

And to be honest, on days my column posts, I totally blow my allotted time out of the water. On those days, I just extend my time online. I would like to say it’s so I interact with everyone, and that is true, but also it is one hundred percent true that I watch every silly video of influencers and any other short little video that happens to pop up! I have time, why not?

I am not trying to sway you one way or another. I am simply telling you my story. I am telling you that my conversations with others feels more soul filling. I still take photos, but I find myself forgetting more often. My kids will tell you it’s not a noticeable break from the “Hey! Stay still! Look happy! Come on! I want this photo!” mini-rant I usually tend to lay on them. I don’t know how long this sort of break from social media will last, but for now, I am enjoying it.

So please go easy on me when we meet. I really haven’t ignored you. I truly want to know how you are.
Have you tried a social media break? Do you have any tips for me?

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