“Margaret are you okay? I miss seeing you on social media! When are you coming back?!” These were some of the comments I heard from friends as I navigated my first ever social media detox. “I could never be off of social media that long. Good for you!” was another comment I heard often.
My decision to take an 8-week hiatus from instagram and facebook happened while I was in the middle of a very hard parenting season this past fall. Leona was just weeks in on full-day kindergarten, and Turner was adjusting to preschool and having daily, intense meltdowns that would last upwards of an hour. I also had recently made the very hard decision to take a step back from my full-time Young Living business (which had required me to be VERY present on social media).
For years I had justified my time on social media because I was using it to help support and grow my business. I spent hours, every single day, writing & creating content, doing instastories, responding to messages, comments, engaging on other peoples’ content, brainstorming content, listening and reading all of the latest info on social media. It consumed me.
So much so that I was losing my ability to live my life undistracted. I wasn’t able to read a book without my phone nearby, so I could scratch my “itch” to check social media. I was unable to watch a TV show or a movie, fully present. I thoroughly enjoyed documenting various parts of my day including time with my children, to the point that it started to annoy them. “Mommy, put your phone away!”
With that also came a sense of anxiety surrounding how I “showed up” online. Was I being authentic? Does anyone even care about what I have to say? What do I have to say? I felt such a lack of clarity on many things during this season and started to feel like my time on social media was clouding my ability to be content. I felt restless and distracted.
And so I decided it was time to part ways with social media for a season. I felt very encouraged by my friend Wynne Elder who also decided to take a social media break alongside me. It was a big step for me, as I’ve shared details of so many parts of my life consistently for the last 10+ years online.
The first few days being “off” wasn’t difficult. Other than overcoming the habit to “check” something on my phone I really didn’t miss being online. I noticed almost right away that my urge to take pictures of things lessened dramatically. I stopped looking for moments to capture and share with others and started to enjoy being fully present IN the moment.
I felt very productive the first two weeks. Organized closets, deep cleaned areas of my home that needed attention, exercised consistently, enjoyed reading more, and spent more quality time with Tyler at night. I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in the story of a good TV show or a movie.
After a few weeks, I started to miss some of the things I would consume on instagram. Podcast recommendations, recipes, books, different things that people would share that would offer “value” to me. I missed seeing what my friends were up to. I started to feel a bit lonely.
It was really strange going through Thanksgiving and Christmas and not sharing the different traditions we were doing, or reflecting on things, posting cute pictures of the kids in their Christmas pajamas didn’t happen.
I noticed a big change in my kids’ behavior, especially Turner’s. In the afternoons when I would snuggle on the couch with him (while he watched a TV show), I would pull out a book instead of my phone. We did countless activities together and my phone was put away, out of sight. I didn’t feel distracted, or didn’t feel the weight or burden of social media and THAT was nice.
While I felt more present and in tune with what was going on around me, I really did miss the creative outlet that is social media. I missed reflecting, processing, having a place to share my thoughts or writing. I missed getting to congratulate a friend that just had a baby (whom I didn’t have her phone number), or wishing people a happy birthday. I felt so out of the loop.
I made the decision to “come back” to social media in early January after 8 full weeks off. It’s been fun to reconnect with people and I’ve enjoyed talking to my little tribe of women who encourage me, share tips & suggestions when I have a question on something, etc.
My experience of “scrolling” is completely different now. Before I go on instagram I try to ask myself “what is the purpose of going on social media right now? how are you feeling? Am I going on to add value or share something? Am I going on to escape reality?” Some of those questions help me be more intentional on how I use various platforms.
I see the ways that so many show up on social media and my perspective has shifted. So much of it can feel like a popularity contest, a “look at me, I’m winning at life” highlight reel. And I know that I have very much contributed to that at times. But then there’s the onslaught of overly vulnerable content that can sometimes make me feel uncomfortable.
I’m still not quite sure what camp I fall into with social media. Do I want to be vulnerable and “keep it real” all the time? Do I want my little spot on the internet to be lighthearted and fun? Practical? Helpful? Emotional? I’m still figuring all of that out and at the end of the day it feels good to know that how I show up doesn’t define WHO I am.
And so I leave you with this, if the internets leave you feeling distracted, less than, conflicted/confused, or unable to fully show up in your REAL life, maybe it’s time to take a break! Maybe you’re in a season of transition or feeling burned out, or life just feels “noisy,” consider taking week or two [or longer] off social media.