I said I was doing an experiment in soul care: turn off all social media for... well, I didn't know how long. I knew I felt the need to deactivate. So on January 1, 2018, that's what I did. Here's a bit about my experience, and why I turned it all back on.
Initially, it was hard to switch off my mind from narrating my life with what I would post about. Like when you think of something witty to go along with your latte, you take a pic and post it to the world, right? Or when your child is doing something insanely cute, you capture the moment in time to share with your friends and family who would obviously appreciate the moment as much as you. Our lives are narrated by posts, pics, and tweets. When I realized that I didn't have an audience waiting to share my moments with, my brain almost didn't know how to narrate my life anymore.
I would begin to craft something witty about the moment at hand, and then realize there would not be a post about this. No comments or likes about my life. This is when initial isolation kicks in.
Then something began to shift. As moments and life went on, without a narration on social media, I slowly began to stop crafting witty banter in my mind about what I would write about this moment.
As I stopped the internal narration to no one, I discovered the moments go on long after I give it 140 characters. The comments and likes actually take away from the moment, because when we stop the moment to craft what we would say about the moment, we've lost the moment.
We often imagine a post or tweet instinctually instead of being fully present. By crafting to an imaginary audience something others would enjoy, I robbed myself of fully enjoying it. By stopping a moment in progress to artificially connect with others, we lose the connection of the people we were in the moment with.
The FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) sets in as well. My friends and family are narrating their lives via post, and here I am, missing it. Missing something. But something interesting happens. Your real friends, the ones who know you aren't on social media, call. They text you the funny thing that happened. My nuclear family (Mom, Dad, Addie) and I have a group text that's been going for months. We share our day, pictures, funnies, all those moments worth sharing- but it's more intimate, intentional, and doesn't get interrupted with comments from your coworkers from 10 years ago. The FOMO got replaced with more special moments with a few people. Now, if there's a song I want to share with one person or a picture I'm really wanting my sister to see, I'll just send it directly to the person. What a concept, right?
I began to realize blasting on social media sometimes takes away the specialness of whatever it is you wanted to share in the first place.
This is one of the biggest reasons Kenny and I never really use social media to do shout-outs for birthdays or anniversaries. It's for us, not for you, and that's the way it should be.
The hardest part about not being on social media was the revealing of how much I checked out from my hardest parts of my life. Stress? Scroll for 20 minutes- you'll feel better. Anger? Watch that news recap and get angrier about something else to cover up whatever you were angry about. Grief? Those pictures and stories sure are beautiful, funny, or at least, distracting.
Before I knew it, all my negative emotions were rapidly rising to the surface, without anywhere to chuck them.
I actually had to stop and process why I had negative emotions more often than positive ones, and I ended up seeing a counselor to help me out. He was extremely helpful, and I don't think I would have gotten into these issues that I needed to process without getting off social media. Was that part of deactivating relaxing, relieving, and restful? No way. Was it soul care? You bet.
One last anecdote: I noticed when I was with friends, stories and catch-up time began in the middle. Let me explain. "Did you see the picture from ____? Yeah, that was fun." or "Did you see little _____? I can't believe he's so getting so big!" It's like we all are conversing in shortened recaps and highlights about our experiences because we've already heard about this experience on social media. We've already seen the pictures from our computer. As an outsider to any posts during this 6 month time period, I didn't see what they were talking about. Yes, that's right, you have to tell me the story, from the beginning, you have to show me your pictures, personally. How fun it was!
Many more authentic connections when we have to actually tell other people about our lies. In person. With words and mouths and eyes.
No, my 915 friends on social media didn't know I went to Slovenia. But the six who came to my house to see pictures and hear stories did. We laughed and I shared about this trip face to face. It was glorious.
So why come back? Simply put: to share. I truly, truly, believe everyone one of us is creative. And writing, or doing any creative endeavor, begins when you have something in you that must get out. Something in your soul sits there and you come back to it again and again. That's how these blog posts even get started. An idea I can't shake, a story that must be told. It can't just stay inside. It's like painting a picture and then putting it in a closet.
The pull to share became strong.
As the creativity continued with the making of film short film As We Are, I knew I had reached my limit of not sharing. To be a writer and a sometimes-teacher without a platform to share feels like being harnessed.
So here I am, not posting my moments from life with a line to make you smile, but I'm here to share my work, my writing, or anything else that needs a platform. Boredom breeds creativity, so my encouragement to you is to go, get off social media for a while and become bored a little. Create something, then get back on here and share it.
A hidden trip to Venice that wasn't ever in my feed. It was like a secret adventure from the world and almost more life-giving because of it.