For a while now I’ve wanted to decrease my current level of social media activity. I think I’ve become dependent on it: addicted to it in a way. I’d like to tell myself that this is partly due to the fact that I do not currently work fulltime. But if I take my memories back to when I was working full time, I think it is safe to say that I was over-using social media back then as well.
I can’t help but wonder what I might be missing out on in life because my face is stuck to a screen for so long.
I’ve been feeling a bit of a failure for the past two or three years, you see. I am a person who sees the amazing potential that I have but who also has almost no idea whatsoever to do with it. My personal circumstances have meant that I have had those two or three years without fulltime employment. But during that time I have been racking my brains over what to do next. I have an internal need to be innovative and creative but then I don’t know what to innovate or create.
Would I find the answers to many of the great questions of life if I spent less time on social media?
Would I be more productive if I didn’t have a computer on my lap most of the time?
Why do I use social media so heavily?
I tell myself that it is because I need it to stay in touch with the people I love and with the news of the world. If it weren’t for social media, I’m convinced, I would be living in a bubble world in which there was no one but me and the one or two people I live with.
“Out of sight out of mind,” I also tell myself. If I disappear from social media everyone would forget me. I would lose out on opportunities. But then that implies that I am waiting for opportunities to come to me rather than create them for myself. I probably am.
I used to be a very private person before I started using Facebook and Twitter. I would go on amazing trips, for example, and none of my friends would even know that I left. When I returned I’d barely tell them anything about my adventures. I didn’t tell people about the things I was thinking or what my worries and ambitions were. None of that. Now a passing thought goes through my head and I can barely contain myself until I throw it out into the social media world. These thoughts are usually insignificant thoughts: things I wonder about, something I think is funny and I want to make my friends laugh along with me, or I just want to share my pride in something nice I cooked.
Social media has helped me grow as a person in many ways, I feel. Many of the things I used to think about would stay inside my head. I would have no feedback on my thoughts. Sometimes I would feel they were too taboo to discuss with anyone. But now I can throw out almost anything and someone will interact with me respectfully. I’ll get feedback and I’m able to revisit my initial thoughts and perhaps reconsider them in a different light. Or I discover that there are other people out there in the world who are wondering the same things and thinking along the same lines. I feel so less alone in this world since I’ve started sharing the things that go through my mind.
In a way, I also believe that it may have helped others, especially women, to see the thoughts and experiences of another woman. I have to admit believing that makes me feel just a little bit more useful, like I have a role, especially at a time when I feel like I don’t really have one because I’m not working.
But is there a way for me to continue playing that role, if indeed it is even useful at all, and staying in touch with friends and the outside world, without missing out on life? Am I even missing out on anything? I have done many things in the past three years. But could I have done even more?
I can’t know if I don’t try doing things a different way. And because my need for constantly staying on social media does not feel normal – because it feels almost addictive – I think I need to see if there is something else I can do.
So how about I try connecting on social media only twice a day? Maybe once early in the morning and another time in the evening? And how about if I limit my social media time to a maximum of half an hour for each morning and evening session. That sounds like quite a lot, but compared to my current use it is almost insignificant.
And how about I find out what I end up doing with my time and my thoughts in the interim. Do I become more productive? Do my thoughts explode out of my brain in a big smelly thought-vomit? Or do I realize that most of the thought I want to share aren’t really worth sharing? And that the ones that are can simply be shared during my short morning and evening sessions on social media each day?
If I’m not on social media will I be able to keep up with the goings-on in Egypt and the world as well? Will I be less stressed out because I’m constantly in touch with the events elsewhere? Will my friends forget me? Will I lose out on opportunities? Or will I learn to create my own opportunities?
I’m going to try this for a short period of time. I’ll limit my social media presence and see where it leads me. I’m blogging about this so I feel more committed to sticking to it. And I’ll attempt to write a short blog post every day about the experience.
This may sound absolutely ridiculous to those of you who have lives and who have self-control. But I’m pretty sure that there are many others out there who can relate.
I’m not looking for comments from people who are know-it-alls and who already have all this figured out. You guys repulse me. So just keep your thoughts about my social media addiction to yourself. But if you are someone who has been there and has come up with a successful formula, do share it here. Give me some ideas on how to control this. Or tell me that I don’t have a problem to begin with and that this is just the new way to live in 2014.
I will start this experiment by posting this article. The second I click that publish button I will…well…I will check my email, Twitter feed, and Facebook one last time (let’s be realistic at least) and then I will shut down my computer. If I use my computer anytime throughout the day it will be for the small amount of work that I still do or if I find inspiration to write. What’s important is that I will not use it to access Facebook or Twitter in particular. And in the next few days I will tell you what I end up doing with my time instead – if anything.
We all feel like this from time to time. Old saying “The devil makes work for idle hands” and when I’m busy on something I spend less time on social media. You may well find the same, good luck. If you read this!
Go Nadia, go! I’m in the same boat although I decided to disable my account completely for a while. I’ve had most of the thoughts/fears you describe at some point or other, but whenever I do a FB fast I feel such relief the moment I click “disable”. I still follow interesting people (like you!) through their blogs or articles, I feel less stressed overall (I don’t think we’re made to have 100+ social interactions per day), I do things because I want to rather than because I want to share them, I have more contact with the people who really matter to me, and I am better able to focus on the here and now. All of these things are enough reason for me to stay off FB for a while even if it doesn’t make me more productive! One thing I hate about FB is that it encourages the feeling that if you’re not doing something exciting every moment of your life you are boring, or a failure. NO, I want to sit around doing un-shareable things and enjoy them. I want to enjoy my own, slower, responses to the world rather than being confronted with everybody else’s thoughts before I can collect my own. I want to feel that I don’t always need to have an opinion about everything. I want to enjoy reading books or articles by people who have actually taken the time to study or think about something deeply rather than being constantly caught up in everyone else’s impulsive response cycle etc etc etc. I hope it’s a similarly positive experience for you and I’m looking forward to your reflections!
Thank you so much for telling me about your experience with social media. In some ways our experiences are similar but in other ways they seem to be quite different. I did feel less stressed yesterday. This morning, however, I feel a bit depressed because I know that I won’t be in touch with my friends and family the way I am accustomed to. And I don’t know anyone where I live. So this feels like a great loss to me. I don’t want to follow just a few people. I have met some absolutely amazing people through social media who I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I have also got to know many people better than I normally would because we don’t see each other very often. I have learned so much from my friends on social media. There has been, of course, some associated stress. But now I’m wondering if I’ve actually benefited from my use of social media much more than getting some negative out of it. And I’m wondering if there is a way to keep getting the good out of it while decreasing the impact of the bad. I’ve never felt the sense of social media peer pressure that you describe. My daily life is very very boring. I really haven’t been doing much in it. And I’m quite happy this way. Having conversations on social media has been a perk through my normally boring day. I have always done things – the more exciting things – because I want to do them. But then sometimes when I’m doing something exciting all I can think at a certain point is, “Oh, I need to share this moment with my friends. Give me the camera!” For me it’s about being happy and sharing that happiness and the experience that brought me such happiness with the people I love. I’ve never felt that I need to have an opinion on something either. Either I have an opinion and I feel a need to express it or I don’t have an opinion so I keep quiet about something or I express my confusions or frustrations. Doing either brings feedback from friends, allowing me to try to develop my thoughts on whatever it is I’m talking about. We’ll see how this goes. This morning I am not happy with my decision to limit my social media activities. I am feeling lonely. I am feeling uninspired. But we shall see.
From experience, facebook-less life is a bless, it helps you think and feel at peace. Do more reading, get yourself some interesting books; I think books can take your mind off social media willy nilly :). A while back, I read a book (collected articles) about how facebook can affect our lives negatively, here’s the link, in case you want to read it:
And good luck with your experiment.
I would rather be a “social media addict”, then gossiping about others or drug dealing, or committing crime or even worse physically hurting myself or others. I think you are addicted to the “right kinda media”, (hopefully not tweeter,,,fcbk,,,tumbler or such). Writing is a GREAT ADDICTION!!. I do want to be an “addict in writing”, being a published author i know how it feels when a book is published.. I ENVY PEOPLE WHO BLOG EVERY DAY!. I ENVY MARY HIGGINS CLARK,,,NORA ROBERTS,,,,KATHY REICHS,,,,PATRICIA CORNWALL!!!.These women don’t stop they just “break my heart at the rate they write with!!”. “my point”, get addicted to “media writing”,,,,write,,,write,,,,write and write some MORE!!!!”. I can’t come up with a book idea, and am currently “holding”, on 2 manuscripts and bloging as you will see,,but, this year i will get the 2 manuscripts published and blog and begin on an “idea,,series book writing that i had, 2 years ago”. Right now am “trying to blog”, once a week and to blog at least 2 paragraphs!!!..LoL.
Me too, so thanks for sharing this experiences. I feel the same as you do. You have beautifully written this article, very well express!
i’ve just been reading the previous comments and I agree it’s better to be addicted to social media into doing something harming yourself or doing drugs or something like that thing that gets me is that you’re just saying what I’m thinking I know you say it so beautifully I think keep writing Nadia keep writing keep struggling enjoy the struggle I’m told that’s where our passion is .