Life without screens.
I spend all day on social media. No, really. My job is in the Christian media space, I manage no less than 8 Instagram accounts, a handful of Facebook pages, several Twitter accounts, and my job title is editor of the third-largest Bible site in the world… so I’m on social media all day long.
I know far too much about the ins and outs of how Facebook’s crazy algorithms work, I study all the insights on Instagram’s business profiles, I know which hashtags garner the most new followers, and I care far too much about the reach of every single thing I post.
It’s enough to make a girl crazy, let me tell you.
I recently found myself in the middle of the work day, phone in hand, mindlessly scrolling Instagram while my three computer monitors all had dozens of windows and tabs open to all the other social media accounts and website and email inboxes I needed to be working on… and I realized I had a problem.
I was addicted to social media.
Yes, I manage accounts for work, and that’s a big reason why I’m online so much, but it had gone so far past just something I did as part of my job. It had become an obsession.
I would grab my phone first thing in the morning to turn my alarm off, and I would instantly start scrolling to see what I had missed online overnight. I would put a pot of water on the stove to boil and would be glued to my phone long after it was ready for the pasta. I would sit at red lights and breeze through my Twitter feed, just trying to stay caught up before I had to start driving again. Anyone else?!
Every time I had a spare minute, I found myself on social media.
It was out of control, and I knew I needed to make a change.
I had been doing the “no notifications” thing for over a year. I had turned “do not disturb” on every evening so I wouldn’t be as tempted to scroll when I should be sleeping. I had taken “social media sabbaths” on the weekends. I had tried the easy things, and I knew I needed more. (I do recommend starting with some of those things regardless of how often you use social media — they are helpful ways to scale back!)
I decided to go all in. I wanted a total detox. I signed off of all my accounts, deleted every app, and stepped away from it all entirely.
It’s been a few weeks now, and I can already tell you it’s changing my life for the better in ways I never could have expected.
There was never going to be a “perfect time” to make this dramatic change, so I just picked a day and went for it. It happened to be the weekend my close cousin got married, and I thought I’d be tempted to log back on just to check her wedding hashtag and see all the photos from the weekend… but I was present for the celebrations in a way I never could have been if I was trying to get the perfect photo for Instagram or add to my Snapchat story the whole time. I also spent more than 20 hours in the car driving to and from Georgia, and where I normally would have wasted that time scrolling online, I instead noticed the scenery, listened to audiobooks, talked with my family, and overall just was much more aware of what was happening around me.
That first weekend alone proved to me that this choice was a healthy and necessary one, and the weeks that have followed have kept confirming it.
Here’s what I’m learning will happen when you give up social media:
- You realize how hooked on it you really were.
- You’ll probably start looking for placeholders (like checking your email way more, or adding more content to your blog reader to have things to check) but will soon realize you don’t need or want any of that as much.
- You start noticing things you never saw before in the world around you.
- You have the opportunity to be much more present, intentional, and aware.
- You start to truly see people.
- You have more time to think, to dream, to create, to process, to breathe.
- You’ll be able to listen better.
- You find yourself reaching for your phone quite a bit before you realize you don’t need it anymore.
- You actually have real conversations with your real friends.
- You have to be intentional with people to stay in touch with their lives.
- You’ll sleep more soundly.
- Your phone battery lasts a ridiculously long time.
- You compare yourself less, and therefore start feeling more self-confident.
- You feel more free and unencumbered.
- You realize your life was never supposed to be about building a brand, but instead about making God’s name and glory known.
- People will wonder where you’ve gone, and why you’ve made this choice. (This is okay!)
- You’ll miss things. You will, you know this. But life goes on.
- Your brain feels like it has room to move around and play more.
- You’ll feel less burdened by all the news and information and announcements.
- You’ll feel disconnected, too.
- You’ll engage more fully with the tasks you’re doing.
- You’ll take pictures just to take them for your own memories, not to share them to Instagram for likes.
- You’ll find out who actually remembers your birthday.
- You will feel a lot more free.
I don’t know when I’ll get back on social media, if I’m being honest. There are things I miss, but there’s so much more that I’m loving about this distraction-free, simplified lifestyle, and I’m not sure I’ll want to go back any time soon.
Regardless of whether you feel hooked on social media or not, I’d encourage you to experiment with new ways of engaging and disengaging with the technology and devices all around us. It’s a breath of fresh air if you do it for an hour, a weekend, or for good. There’s so much more to life than likes and hashtags, and we’d all do well to remember that a little more often.