Why I’m Cutting Back on Social Media

Confession time! I have ZERO self control when it comes to social media. Right after I wake up each morning, I grab my phone and eagerly scroll through my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest apps to see what notifications I have and what others have posted while I was in the Land of Nod. This is often the last thing I do before I go to bed too.  Throughout the day, if I’m not thrilled with the task I’m doing (like cleaning the house), I’ll take a bajillion breaks to check my accounts.  This inevitably turns a 30 minute cleaning gig into a 3 hour one!  Or, instead of enjoying the moment and looking out the window while riding on public transport, I typically bury my nose in my phone and “double tap” a bunch of Instagram pics.

It recently dawned on me – what if I miss some beautiful or odd sight because I’m too busy staring at my phone?  What if I don’t notice that someone needs help because I’m too distracted by all the pretty photos on Instagram?  

Mushy Brain and Memory Loss

I’ve never paid too much attention to my social media usage until recently when I noticed my memory has become quite abysmal.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been chatting with friends and I’ll try to remember the name of a store, restaurant or another person and can’t remember for the life of me.  After we get home from trips, I’ll be all excited to regale people with tales of our adventures but can’t remember half of the places we went and find myself saying ‘I’ll have to look it up and email it to you”.  My brain feels sluggish and it’s super frustrating and, quite frankly, somewhat alarming.  I became curious about whether overuse of social media can cause memory loss and I found this article that suggests there is a link between the two.

Long story short, I feel like my frequent mindless scrolling through my social media accounts has turned my brain to pure mush.  I think I can almost feel my mind becoming numb.

Pros and Cons of Social Media

Is social media all bad? Heck no!

Here are some pros I’ve experienced:

-Staying in touch with friends and family all around the globe
-Connecting with other cool tall folks including bloggers, Instagrammers, those who read my blog and tall retailers
-Keeping up with breaking news
-Gleaning ideas and inspiration for fashion and life in general
-It’s fun and entertaining!

Here are a few cons I’ve noticed with my social media usage:

-I am less observant of my surroundings
-I’m sometimes less engaged with or less available to those around me
-It can be a huge distraction and my productivity often goes in the toilet when I have easy access to social media

Unplugging

There have been times in my life when I’ve deliberately cut out the interwebs.  For example, I went on a two day “silent retreat” to a monastery with a group of ladies several years ago.  The setting was beautiful and serene, there was no internet or cell phone coverage to be had AND nobody was supposed to talk.  Well, I take that back. The lady leading the retreat would get all of us together a couple of times per day to do an inspirational reading or to suggest a topic to write about in our journals (if we wanted to).  Then, we would go off by ourselves on the grounds of the monastery and sit in silent reflection, write in our journal, fall asleep…whatever struck our fancy.  There was even silence at mealtime. The whole point was to eliminate as many distractions as possible so that we could sit with our thoughts or simply sit without thinking.  No expectations, no to-do lists, no emails to return – just peace and quiet. It was the most serene two days of my life.

The church I attended in my mid-20s in Southern California also encouraged us to take “days of rest” that were focused on unplugging and recharging.  These days typically involved focusing less on our cell phones, computers and TVs and instead focusing on something that felt restful to us.  This could be going to the beach, visiting a friend, reading a book, going for a hike.  I happened to be living at the beach at the time and fondly recall the few times I turned my cell phone off for several hours and sat on the sand contemplating life.

There have been times in recent months where I’ve gone hours without checking my phone (or even the time for that matter) and I’ve found this really refreshing.  During a couple of recent bike rides with the husband, I didn’t bring my phone and it was such a nice feeling to get some exercise, enjoy my surroundings and have no earthly clue what was going on in the virtual world for a few hours.  If I’m visiting a friend’s house, I usually leave my phone in my purse and lose track of time while we have a nice, long chat. I’m currently in the U.S. visiting family and have no cellular service when I’m out and about.  Instead of pining for my iPhone apps, I have IMMENSELY enjoyed my quality time with my friends and family and have soaked up my surroundings.

If I come away from these instances feeling energized and happy, then why does social media always suck me back in? It’s so stinkin’ addictive!

What am I going to do about it?

OK. So it’s all fine and good to sit here and write a blog post about how I need more balance with my social media usage but what the heck am I actually going to do about it?  I’m glad you asked!

I’ve decided I need to be more deliberate about my social media usage so I have a proclamation to make.  Wait for it…wait for it…

Today, I deleted my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest apps from my phone so that I’m not distracted by them while I’m out and about or generally away from my computer.

Ah…but there’s still the computer and iPad, right? Yep! I didn’t say I’m swearing off social media completely.  I enjoy connecting with all of you way too much for that.   But I know I need to give myself limits and boundaries. So, I am going to play around with scheduling my social media time more.  For example, maybe I will check my feeds first thing in the morning on my computer and then check them again in the early evening.   Checking my feeds twice per day should allow me to reply same day to any questions or comments and if for some reason I do not reply the same day, I am fairly positive the world will not come to an end.

Hopefully, being more mindful and intentional about my social media usage will lead to increased productivity, more quality time with my loved ones and a less mushy brain.  I’m also curious to see if I’ll interact with more people while I’m out and about.  This is probably unlikely since the locals where I live don’t typically make small talk, but I will certainly keep you posted on my little experiment.

Your turn…

Do you find social media a bit addictive?  Have you ever thought about cutting back on social media? Do you have any tricks for unplugging?

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8 Comments

  • Reply Andrea@WellnessNotes November 16, 2015 at 12:17 am

    I try to not use social media on my phone (or on the computer) when I am with others, especially with my sons. I also don’t check it when I go for long walks, etc. I do use social media on my phone when I am waiting somewhere, but I know I really don’t have to check it at that time. I think limiting social media to twice a day is very reasonable. There is really no reason to check it all day long. In one of my classes I teach a unit on Internet addiction, and it always makes me examine my own social media habits. There is definitely a lot I could change…

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures November 19, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      I bet you have some interesting insights into this topic from teaching that class. I agree that there really is no reason to check it all day long yet it seems to be the societal norm and I find myself so tempted to do it. I think I chose a good time to start this experiment since I haven’t had any cell service whilst being out and about in the U.S. the past 2 weeks. The real test will be once I’m back in Europe with a phone that works everywhere. 🙂

  • Reply Sara November 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    It’s so interesting that you wrote this article this week. Ever since the puppy arrived I’ve had less and less time for social media and it is amazing how much more observant I’ve become. (Albeit that I can’t even remember when or what my last tweet was.) I found that pre-puppy my memories were all starting to be of things I’d seen or read online. Recently though I found that the only time I’ve looked at my social media apps has been when she’s howling the house down at 4am (because there’s really nothing else to do at that time) and my quality of life feels so much richer. I’m no longer addicted to my emails either, today is the first time in 3 weeks that I’ve spent a lot of time online and I’m already looking forward to putting the laptop away and going outside.

    There’s also a lot of research out there that suggests if you take a ton of photos all the time you remember the reality of the moment less – now I love photography but I’d have to say that’s true too. I thought I’d have a gazillion photos of the pup by now but because most of them came out as a fuzzy blur (or slobbery) I sort of gave up, my memories may not be recorded but they’re crystal clear in my mind, and that’s what counts.

    Sara xx
    http://www.girlintheprettydress.com

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures November 21, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      I bet having a new puppy to care for would cut down on social media time! I’m happy to hear that you feel like you’re more observant and your quality of life is better now that you’re spending less time online. I have a feeling I will feel the same assuming I can exercise my self-discipline. I already experienced some benefits of not having a working cell phone for 2.5 weeks while I was in the U.S.

      Funny you should mention the photos! I’ve been trying to cut down on my obsessive photo taking too. On our recent trip to Paris, I decided I just didn’t feel like capturing every little moment (which is my normal MO when we’re traveling) and it was such an enjoyable weekend! I felt like I soaked up the scenes and experiences so much more. Sure…I took a few photos but mostly just walked around and enjoyed the sights.

  • Reply Allison @ The Tall Mama November 17, 2015 at 5:34 am

    So interesting! I agree with everything you’ve said. I make an effort to not be on my phone in front of my girls, which limits my time on social media. On multiple occasions I’ve been watching my girls swimming lessons, and I’m the only one actually watching! Every other parent has their head down looking at their phone, which I find really sad as our children look for us to smile and wave encouragingly when they do something they think is a big deal (even if it’s just blowing bubbles!). x Allison

    • Reply Tall Fashion Adventures November 21, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      I really admire that you endeavor not to be on your phone around your kids. From hanging out with all of my little nieces and nephews lately, I’ve noticed that kids are very observant and can tell if I’m distracted and not giving them my full attention. I wouldn’t want to send the message that my phone or computer is more important than them. The scene you describe at the pool is interesting. Kids need so much positive reinforcement and attention especially when they’re learning something new like swimming. The mental image of a kid looking for their parent because they’re proud of what they just accomplished only to see that the parent has his/her nose buried in a phone makes me a bit sad.

  • Reply Goals and Habits 2016 February 6, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    […] my post about how I wanted to cut back on social media because I felt like my memory was going to pot and my brain turning to mush? My goal is to replace […]

  • Reply Lauren January 23, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Loved this post … hoping that you’re feeling inspired to realign and disconnect again!

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