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.