On January 6 this year, I suddenly woke up to the conclusion that I was addicted to social media. I wrote a blog post about this and decided I needed to cut down on my social media use. The following day I posted an update on my progress. This is my third and last update of my social media abstinence experiment.
Start of Day 2 7:30 AM
I woke up this morning with a deep sense of loneliness. I am currently living in a small town in the UK where I know absolutely no one. I have only started to settle here and I do not work here yet. I have no friends or family here except for my husband. This was not a real problem for me until this morning. Before today I have been able to keep in constant contact with all my friends and family no matter where they are in the world. I know what they are up to and they know what I am up to. We discuss our thoughts on things going on in Egypt and in our lives. We may all be far away from each other and we may be interacting in a virtual realm, but we are real friends and family. Our thoughts are real, our discussions are real, and the sharing of our experiences is real. Even though I knew that I would access my social media feeds once this morning and once this evening, I felt that I was losing contact with my friends. It’s not the same as being able to check in quickly every now and then during the day. I’m not sure I’m liking this experiment. I’m not sure it’s even necessary. Maybe having social media as part of our lives is just the new way of living. Some people will tell me to make an effort to get to know new people. That is so much easier said than done. I’m feeling upset and down this morning because of all this. I’m going to make an effort to get myself out of this feeling but I am definitely not happy right now.
I also realize that I get ideas from my social media presence. My family and friends inspire me to write based on the things they post. I get lots of news feeds through my social media pages and things that are happening in the world give me ideas. Social media inspires me. It keeps my brain active and thinking.
I’m very upset with myself. You know when you wake up one morning and think you’ve had an absolutely brilliant idea only to discover the next day that it ranks up there with some of your most ridiculous ideas? Yep. This cutting down on my social media time and thinking I’m an addict is one of my most ridiculous ideas. I thought I might be overusing social media and thus losing out on living life. I thought, “I’ll significantly cut down on my social media time and come up with new things to do with my life every day and then I’ll write about it. It will be brilliant!” You show me the idiots who come up with new things to do every single day of their lives and I’ll … I’ll… You know what? I’m not committing myself to stupid things anymore.
I think I’ve allowed myself to feel judged. That’s what I think. Yes. Maybe in the past week I’ve been overdoing it a bit by having my laptop open most of the day so I can easily check to see if any of my friends have said something new and interesting. But I’m not like that most of the time. I live my life! I am active! I keep myself busy with little projects and activities! I have one or two large adventures a year. I prioritize my family as best I can. I already do all that! It isn’t social media that is keeping me from fixing other aspects of my life. It’s other stuff. It’s partly just my personal circumstances that require me to be more innovative about certain things. It’s partially my insecurities and lack of self-confidence (sometimes) that is holding me back. It is sometimes simple laziness that keeps me from accomplishing things I’d like to accomplish. It might also be part of a phase I’m going through. But ALL THAT IS NORMAL! It’s not a big deal! The fact that I go onto Facebook in my free time – and that is exactly what it is – does not mean it is the thing holding me back from living my life and doing things that are more important.
I think that because some of my friends use social media differently than the way I do it has made me feel that I might be doing something wrong. A few people have told me in my face that I say too much on social media. Fuck them! I enjoy expressing myself. I enjoy talking to people about stuff. They don’t have to enjoy the same things that I do. They can be closed up about their personal lives as much as they want to. I’m more than comfortable sharing things about mine. Actually, I love sharing things about my life with people. And it’s no one’s right to make me feel like there is something wrong with that. When I discover that saying certain things is no longer the thing for me, I’ll then modify my online behavior accordingly. It’s that simple. Other people have insinuated that it’s vain for some to share the really good things about their lives through social media. It’s like bragging in a very public realm. I’ve never come across someone who seems to be bragging about their lives. Rather, like me, the way I receive their messages is as people who are doing interesting things and they want to share that with their friends and families. Perhaps people who receive these sharing messages differently are the ones with the problem.
I have a friend I went to high school with when I lived in the U.S. During high school we didn’t know each other that well. But we reconnected on Facebook some 30 years later. This friend is an American woman who now lives in Moscow with her family. I absolutely love learning about her life in Moscow. She sometimes goes on trips with her family and posts pictures. I love looking at the pictures and learning something new about places I haven’t been to. I love seeing her children’s happy faces. I love hearing her thoughts on the places she’s been to. I learn something from those experiences.
I have a Finnish friend who I would hardly ever have had the opportunity to get to know if it weren’t for Facebook. We met at a couple of conferences. That was it. She doesn’t say much on Facebook. But I’ll bet she isn’t the slightest bit aware that some of her comments on my statuses have been very inspiring and thought-provoking. And even though I can’t understand some of her posts because they are written in Finnish, I love seeing the pictures she puts on her Facebook page because they give me insight into her life. And I’m inspired.
I have another friend who I worked with for a couple of years. She was supervising a project from the U.S. that I was managing in Egypt. We met a few times when she came on visits to see how things were going. Because of Facebook I have been able to see what a strong family woman she is. This woman has two little twins who she does her best to take to museums and give them interesting and educational activities to do. She posts things about the nutritional meals she makes for them. And she writes about her efforts to maintain an active career life throughout all this. I absolutely love reading her statuses. They inspire me. They fill me with pride that there are women out there who have so much strength despite very difficult circumstances sometimes.
I have a Facebook friend who used to write for me when I worked as an editor. I have never met him in my life. But since we’ve connected on Facebook I’ve so enjoyed watching his career grow. I’ve loved reading some of his inspirational messages – things he’s in the process of learning that he wants to share with others. And he makes me laugh. There are few gifts as precious as that.
I have another friend who rarely says anything at all on Facebook. But every now and then she might post a quote from a book she’s reading. This friend of mine is extremely intelligent. Just knowing what book she’s currently reading is valuable information to me. But then I also learn something new from a part of that book that she found was worth sharing.
The examples go on and on and on.
Yes. Maybe some days I over do it on my social media use. But that is usually when I’m sitting at home on my sofa doing nothing anyways. Today I’ve spent much of that time watching crap reality television instead. Yes. I could have done something more useful with my time today. But today I’m not in the mood for useful. That happens sometimes to me. Sometimes I just need to shut down. Sometimes I’m not up for a day’s-worth of physical activity or intellectual stimulation. Those times I’ll sit down on my couch and tune into Facebook. There are negative aspects sometimes to the way I use this medium, I’m sure. There are negative aspects sometimes to the way others use this medium and that sometimes filters over to me. But right now I can tell you that it looks like the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Social media is not keeping me from living my life. I am actually quite good at controlling my use of it. I usually don’t turn the Internet on in my mobile phone unless I’m very bored. The result is that almost all the time while I’m out of the house I’m not online. I get stuff done at home like most people. I do some stuff and leave others. It’s that simple.
Anyway, I’m not liking this ridiculous experiment of mine. I think it’s stupid. I’m going to try to hold out until the end of the week just to see if there’s anything in it. But right now it’s looking like a really stupid idea to me.
Start of Day 3 7:45 AM
I was very upset yesterday. I was upset mostly because I felt that I allowed myself to reflect problems that I perceive I have onto a tool that really has absolutely nothing to do with those problems. It was that tool, social media and Facebook in particular, that was hindering me from being more successful in my career. It was that tool that was holding me back from living my life more fully. That’s a load of crap.
Firstly, I’m living my life pretty damn well if you ask me. It is not perfect by any means. But it’s my life and I’ve made my choices and I’ve been pretty darned fortunate throughout.
Secondly, a major reason I haven’t been able to continue my career lately is simply that I’ve had to travel frequently between husband and children living in two distant countries. That was my choice as well. And as I’m trying to settle in a new country, it isn’t – and won’t – be easy finding work. That is absolutely normal and expected. It’s frustrating but that’s just how things are. In the meantime I keep myself occupied and happy. I also manage to keep in touch with all my family and friends while I’m away. I think that’s a pretty good deal.
I had committed myself to going onto my social media pages only twice a day. Yesterday I didn’t even want to make use of my evening session so I didn’t. And I wasn’t at a loss for it. I didn’t make grand use of my time yesterday. I just did what I normally do. I find things to keep myself busy. Yesterday I was devising a mathematically correct playlist for my personal running pace. I’m not there yet but I’m getting there. Clearly that is not a life changing activity. But again, NO ONE does life changing activities every day! Big deal! I enjoyed myself and allowed myself to obsess over it for a couple of hours. I also watched loads of crap TV. I usually resort to crap TV because it gives my head a break from all the stimulation and thinking it’s normally exposed to. Yesterday I had very little stimulation. I was upset about all this stuff. I watched too much crap TV. You know what? Sometimes we engage in behaviors we can do without. As long as they don’t take over our lives, as long as we recognize the fact that it’s probably better that we start modifying our behaviors a bit, then it’s all fine. There will be days when a person needs to sit in her onesie on a comfortable couch watching crap TV. There will be other days when she’ll obsess over her social media feeds. And there will be yet other days when she has better things to do with her time and she’ll do them.
You know what? My name is Nadia and I’m a normal person with normal behaviors. And this was an utterly ridiculous experiment. Nevertheless, I figure I’ve probably learned something from it.
END OF RIDICULOUS EXPERIMENT AND UPDATES ABOUT IT