Lately I’ve realised that, once again, I’ve fallen into that habit of constantly checking my Facebook newsfeed and looking at everything through an Instagram lens. So as it’s half term and I really want to focus on my children and not my iPhone this week, I’m taking the rest of the month off. No social media for me until they’re all back at school and I can afford to waste time watching YouTube videos of cats who are afraid of cucumbers (although in all honesty, can I ever really afford to waste time watching YouTube videos of cats who are afraid of cucumbers??)
Part of this resolution stems from the fact that social media stresses me out! I’ve been doing a little low grade soul searching lately to figure out how to be happier; how to be calmer, less anxious and to embrace the much mused about art of mindfulness. I’ve started Tai chi and Pilates classes in a bid to use exercise and breathing techniques to help me relax. I’ve made a list of books I want to read before I’m forty to motivate myself to devote more time to quality reading instead of swiping through blog posts and the ASOS sale pages (the irony of writing a blog post about reading fewer blog posts is not lost on me by the way!) And I’ve tried to make space in my day to practise a bit of mindfulness meditation. It’s really not that easy though, both finding ten spare undisturbed minutes in the day AND training myself to think ‘mindfully’. My thoughts are constantly wandering to the extent that it sometimes feels as if I’m channel-hoping around my brain.
One of the side affects of my obsessive social-media-ing (I think it’s only a matter of time before ‘social-media-ing’ becomes a recognised verb) is that my attention span is appalling! (I can’t even write a sentence without punctuating it with an aside thought in brackets.) I find myself constantly craving screen time, not just when I’m flopped on the sofa trying to watch a film, but also when I’m in the middle of cooking dinner, when I’m stuck in a traffic jam and even when I pop to the loo for a quick wee. I’ve dropped my iPhone into the toilet twice this year so I really should have learnt my lesson by now!
The competitive and judgemental world of social media is also a stressful place to be. All too often I’ve felt abject disappointment when my photos haven’t achieved a respectable number of likes; or deeply anxious when I’ve realised that friends have made plans without me (hashtag FOMO!); or seriously pissed off by an innocuous comment on an Instagram post. Life is too short for this shit!
I’ve been here before – I’ve tried various Facebook fasts and an entire 40 days of abstaining from social media for Lent – so I’m really not trailblazing with this. But those experiences have always helped me to re-evaluate my social media addiction and take small steps to change my habits. The problem is, as any self-respecting addict knows, it’s so easy to fall off the wagon and I have done time and time again.
Friends have shared with me their own frustrations about their social media habits and at one point I was inspired to start some sort of Social Media Withdrawal Support group until I realised that the only place I could effectively advertise this would be on Facebook or Twitter. So until someone develops a social media withdrawal patch that I can stick to my arm to help wean me off my habit, or a Facebook-free gum that I can chew to distract me from my newsfeed, going cold turkey seems to be the only way. So here goes….
Hi, I’m Abbi…and it’s been 17 hours and 22 minutes since my last Facebook post…