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
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.
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?