I’m not on Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Pinterest. Or any other popular social media platform.
With the exception of Facebook, I’ve never even had an account with those listed. It’s not that I’m against social media. It’s that I know myself and my weaknesses.
I love people. I love pictures. I love parties. I love being in the know.
I know I would love Instagram. Which is exactly why I’m not on it.
Like many Americans, I usually feel like I don’t have enough time. Between working a full-time job, working out 3-5 times a week, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, (etc.), nurturing my hobbies, practicing spiritual disciplines, seeking out volunteer opportunities, and spending time with people I love, it seems there just aren’t enough hours in a week. And I don’t even have a kids!
I also know how easy it is to waste time.
I know how easy it is to scroll through Facebook in the morning, in line at the grocery store, at red lights, during work, and before bed. I know what it’s like to complain I don’t read enough – but in reality I am reading a lot! I’m just reading Facebook statuses instead of books.
Over the years I’ve done my fair share of Googling the effects of social media. Two common themes I’ve found are as follows:
- It creates a distorted reality, which can result in comparison / insecurity / isolation.
- It distracts and disrupts our creativity / productivity.
People are often in denial about the effects anything has on them (advertising, movies, music, etc.) I will confess at times I believe I am above it all. But I’m not.
Every year I deactivate my Facebook account on January 1 for three months. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, as a reset button to make sure I am in control of Facebook and Facebook isn’t in control of me. I detox any bad habits I may have picked up. Second, to take myself off the grid as I start the new year; to have less things vying for my attention so I can focus on what I want to get out of the year.
I am usually the last one to find out about things. People getting engaged, people moving, people getting in car crashes, etc etc etc. This much I can say: good ole word-of-mouth still gets the job done. (It’s just not as timely.)
I’m invited to fewer parties.
It’s ironic; not being on Facebook (slash any social media) shows you who your friends really are. The ones who are thinking of you enough to make a little more effort, they remember you even when you’re off the grid. I don’t say this in a negative sense. It’s just the truth! People don’t notice I’m not on Facebook. The world spins madly on.
I plan to reactivate my Facebook account April 1. While there are many advantages to being off the grid, there are also advantages to being on it. For me, best case scenario is to be on one social media platform and to keep my boundaries in check. If I’m complaining I don’t have enough time, yet find myself aimlessly scrolling through Facebook… I have a problem. Time to reset those boundaries!
I think it’s important for everyone to be deeply honest with themselves about the power social media can have (or currently has) over his or her life if healthy boundaries aren’t being practiced. Moderation is key. For some people, that means not checking social media in the morning or at night. For others, it might mean not checking it all weekend. If you don’t already know what works for you, I encourage you to find out and do it!