In Writing

A social media fast, that is.

It began like this: my mornings usually begin with some CNN on in the background, occasionally muted so I can surf Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. When my squirrel attention can take it, I go over to Flipboard and scan my curated “magazines,” – Politics, News (mostly politics, frankly, not sure why I keep both), Happiness (research, which is great, and “tips,” which are repetitive and often inane), Book Reviews, Home Decorating, Adventure Travel (so I can live vicariously), Mindfulness, Writing. Between that and the headlines I pick up on Twitter and Facebook, I get an eclectic and entertaining mix of information.

I also sometimes get kind of sad.

I couldn’t tell why, so I decided to go on a one-month social media fast. No posting. That means not going through every experience asking myself, “I wonder what about this I can post on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter.” No seeing what others post.

I thought it would be torment, but I was surprised at how natural it felt. I deleted the apps from my phone. (As part of this experiment I also downloaded Moment, an app that tells me how much time I spend on my phone. Mine clocked in at about 8 hours on the first day, even AFTER I deleted social media apps. That’s right, my monkey mind is a full-time job). I missed it only as one misses a thing one does a lot, but not with longing or even “withdrawals.” A couple of weeks in, I don’t miss it at all.

And the sad feelings disappeared. Here’s where I realized something interesting: the social media I’ve been most active on recently, and which I thought I’d miss the most, is Instagram (funny for something I initially resisted). But now it’s the one I feel most resistance to reapproaching. I’ve “cheated” on Twitter a few times, and I’ve found that it doesn’t have much of an effect on my mood. But Instagram, with its highly-curated images of author success and giveaways, left me feeling inadequate and like I was falling behind. Removing it from my experience has been a positive. And Facebook I somehow just don’t think much about at all.

It’s a reality that if you want to succeed as an author, you most likely have to have some kind of active social media presence. But I have loved this social media fast, and I will definitely make it part of my plan going forward – perhaps just one “social media weekday” and then no more for the rest of the week, or something like that. We’ll see. When a tool stops working for you, it’s time to rethink your use of it. I for one am feeling pretty good about this fast.

Here’s the one and only time I was really aching to “cheat” on my Instagram fast… my honey-sweet boyfriend showed up at my door with flowers, just because, and it made my heart swell with such joy that… I just wanted to post a picture of them. Kind of like still wanting a cigarette with a cocktail long after all other cravings had passed, something about the unexpected delight just made me yearn to share it.

So, here, I’ll cheat just a little. My “just because” flowers.  Because I feel lucky to be loved.

Later, sweet ones.

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