In February and March I wrote two posts on my efforts to minimize the digital distractions in my life, Digital Minimalism and Digital Minimalism Revisited. I’d just finished the book by Cal Newport of the same name and was inspired to cut out the mindless distractions of my life.
Since then, I’ve continued to stay off Facebook. In February, I was distressed by my addiction to Twitter; I wasn’t willing to leave it because I thought that it gave me news and connection that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I chose to take it off of my phone and log on only when I sat at my computer. That was the trick, because it never felt important enough for me to fire up the computer and check my feed. Just before I started this post, I went to Twitter for the first time in months and checked my activity there. Other than my blog posts that are automatically shared, I hadn’t actually tweeted or shared any posts since February 19th – almost 3/4 of a year ago.
I don’t miss it. I don’t miss seeing the same news headline shared a zillion times. I don’t miss the constant outrage and the hateful responses. I don’t miss the overwhelming desire to read all eleventy billion updates every hour. I don’t miss saying to my kids, “just a minute” as I scroll, scroll, scroll.
So just before I wrote this post, I cut the final string on Twitter and deactivated my account. I still had that tiny pull that I was making a mistake, but I took the chance. As of last Saturday, I am Twitter free!
Now Instagram is the only social media platform that I’m on. I’ve set a limit of 20 minutes and once I get to that point, a little hour glass pops up on my phone to tell me that my time is up. I can decide to ignore it and continue scrolling, which I sometimes do, but I try my best to honor my commitment of 20 minutes a day.
I culled nearly half of the people I followed in February in an effort to not feel overwhelmed by my feed. Since then, I’ve re-followed a few and found a few new grammers to follow, but I’ve managed to keep my feed to a manageable level. That helps with the mindless scrolling – I don’t have to feel like I need to see everything that everyone in the world has posted since I last logged in.
And that’s the difficult part – there are so many people out there doing such cool things and I don’t want to miss out. But I also don’t want to miss out on what’s around me right now.
Social media distracts me to the point of missing out on all of the little things in my life. It even boils up a little jealousy – jealous that nothing in my life is quite as beautiful, jealous that I can’t knit or read as much as others out there, that I’ll never have as many followers or be as popular as some, and that no one seems very interested in the things that I’m doing.
I know that others probably feel the same way and I’m constantly reminding myself that I’ve chosen to live a quiet life and I’ve worked very hard, internally and externally, to make it that way. Why let something silly like Instagram make me question the value of that? But this is what social media does: it seeps into every aspect of our lives, makes so much of our lives a competition, and leaves us yearning for more. Trust me, I have a prospecting personality and don’t need anything else leaving me yearning for more!
So I have a lot more thinking to do when it comes to Instagram! What sort of boundaries around it would be helpful? I’m such an all or nothing person, that the first solution I come up with is “delete,” which isn’t always the answer. Until then, I’m going to keep making my way through this stack of library books on my desk, try to finish my Old Romance sweater before the end of the year, and play with my children.
How about you? Do you have draw any boundaries around social medial media to keep it from taking over? How do you find the emotional balance between being amazed by the things other people do and being jealous that you can’t? (Maybe that’s a much larger post!)