Has it been a year+ since I broke up with social media? It has! In some ways, it feels like it was just last week, and in other ways, it definitely feels like a year.
I wrote a little about why I broke up with social here and what it felt like 6 months into my break-up here. I thought I’d spill some thoughts about how I’m doing with this grand experiment now that it’s been a little over a year. Truthfully, I’ve been thinking about reigniting my relationship with Instagram, but more on that below 🙂
What I’ve enjoyed without social media
1. The practice of letting go. I do think it wise for me to walk away from a space that, for me, morphed from The Land of Inspiration to The Land of Never Being Able To Keep Up. It had begun to feel like a job for me, the kind that you dread. So when I broke up with it, it felt like I quit a job I really wanted/needed to quit. I am proud of that decision. And a year later, I still feel that sense of having one less job to do, and that feels good.
That said, having a nice super long break has gifted me with time to detangle the parts of myself that made social unFun. More on that below.
2. More quality downtime. Instead of the mindless scroll, or creating posts, I’ve savored the extra time. I’ve read more books, created more art, and have generally cleared out anything social media related from my psychic space. I just haven’t thought about it. It has been a long period of not feeling burdened by it. This has been wondrous!
3. More personal development. Taking a sabbatical from social inspired my taking time for my personal development, including investing in an art mentorship program that I wish I had done years ago. I have loved creating an entire new body of work without the impulse to share it on social. Additionally, I’ve learned so much about myself when it comes to protecting more of myself vs giving it all away, which I wrote more about here.
4. Less stimulation. The removal of constant feedback and intake of info/images has done wonders for my nervous system. I generally have a tremendous capacity for holding/managing lots and lots of balls in the air, but life was beginning to pile up on my heart and what was needed was restoration of my nervous system. Not having social during this last year has been soothing to my mind. Like a year-long bubble bath.
5. No comparisons. Without social, I have not had the opportunity to compare myself to other people on the Internet! Less triggers and less comparisons meant that I only had myself to look at. And let me tell you, that has been a good/hard/enlightening space for me to travel. Soul work. I think it’s so important to take a break from time to time from whatever is activating our triggers and ask the big questions of ourselves and shore up our self-compassion practices until we get clarity. Self-kindess for the win. Always.
Without the inevitable comparisons that social media can trigger, I’ve also noticed that making art has felt less cluttered with influences, too. It’s been really nice to not see other people’s work on a constant basis and simply focus on my own.
6. Deeper connection. Instead of catching up with a friend via their posts, I have to call them! Or text. It has forced me to be less lazy with my friendships, and more proactive with keeping connections alive. Creating weekly phone dates or art dates or walk dates has become more of an intentional practice for me. Have some of my friendships suffered? Yes. And that has been hard. More on that below.
What I’m missing being off social media
1. I miss my wider community. The other day I logged into my account (I’ve been experimenting with logging in and lurking around my feed to see how my body feels in response to being on the app) and the first post in my feed was from a Portland friend who has been battling cancer for about a year. I had no idea she was suffering and that made me sad. She is a friend who isn’t in my immediate circle, but certainly is a dear person in my wider community. Had I known she was hurting, I would have reached out and created a deeper connection. There have been many instances like this.
2. Missed connections. When I’m with hanging out with friends who are on social, inevitably somebody comes up in conversation and I have NO IDEA what’s happening with that person, but whoever is on social has a good pulse on how they’re doing. Oh, they just got this awesome grant. Oh, they just launched a new exciting course. Oh, she just had a solo show! This piece of being off social has not gotten easier for me. I miss knowing how life is unfolding for people I care about. I feel a little left out, and I often feel missed opportunities to connect.
I’m beginning to realize that social is how we as a species connect these days. This is where people are, not just “people” but my people. I’m the only person I know (except for ONE other person) who isn’t on social. If I want to know what’s happening with my friends and extended family on a regular basis, then social is where I would find out. It’s just the way it is. I haven’t been able to fully accept this piece, and that’s been hard.
3. My gratitude/writing practice. One thing I really miss about social is how it kept me noticing and capturing and then writing about the small gratitudes and wonders in my everyday life. That gorgeous bouquet of wild flowers. My outfit for my #wearyourjoy practice. My English bulldog snuggles. The way my paintbrushes look in the afternoon light. Without writing consistently for social, I’m noticing that my practice of noticing and capturing is slipping. I’ve also noticed that my writing voice is fainter than before. I thought I’d write more on my blog once I got off social, and I have, but not as much as I thought I would.
4. Inspiration finding. When I got off social last year, I was in the midst of some heavy lifting in my life. I was opening a retail store and building that brand in the midst of a Pandemic. Our kiddo was in/out of homeschooling and in-person half-day school pods due to Covid fallout. Simply put, I was maxed and the last thing my body/nerves/heart needed was more info overload on social. These days, however, as life has simmered down, I’m noticing that I have much more bandwidth to take in information, but more specifically, inspiration. I’ve noticed that living in a tiny town provides so much peace and simplicity and visual spaciousness, and sometimes I crave a bit more visual language to respond to, to be inspired by. I miss that inspiration and nudge to create inspiration in my own life that social media gave me.
(New print! Available here.)
Final thoughts/Will I return to social?
I’m really glad I took the time to feel the full experience of being off. Like any breakup, I think it’s important we get to the part where we’re able to look at ourselves and what we brought to the relationship, its demise, what we could have done differently and so on. Perspective is golden clarity, yes?
Lately, with all of this perspective, I have been considering dipping back into Instagram. I’m gonna sit with for a couple of months, but I can see myself doing Insta differently than I did it before. We will see! Stay tuned 🙂
Meanwhile, tell me how your relationship with social media is going. Are you enjoying it? How have you kept the spark alive? Have you taken long breaks from it? Tell me all the things!