Some time during late August, whilst spending time mindlessly scrolling through facebook posts, I saw a post that talked about ‘Scroll free September’. In an instant, knowing how much time I’d been wasting on scrolling, I made the decision to abstain from social media for September. To hold myself to account, I sent a quick post telling my ‘followers’ what I was about to do, then – wham! That was that. No social media for a month. An interesting test this would be. How addicted was I to social media, and in particular, to facebook?
Turns out I was a full on addict. Just like a smoker or any other addict, I had developed daily habits which involved going onto facebook – a lot! Every morning and every night, and at multiple points during the day – I had to check my social feed. I posted, and ‘checked-in’ wherever I went. To my own credit, I never tagged anybody without their persmission. I used to put my mind at ease, believing that what I shared and posted would help inspire and uplift, or entertain, my ‘followers’.
So how did it go, and what’s changed since ‘Scroll free September’?
Week one was difficult. I had to break certain habits. Like checking my feed whilst having my breakfast smoothie. I had to deny the urge to ‘check-in’ wherever I went. And I did it. The fact that I’d posted what I was doing made me feel compelled to stick with it. Public accountability works for me. Some friends and family felt disconnected and so my decision affected them too. They drew some inspiration or some comfort from knowing where I was, what I was doing, particularly when I was travelling.
Week two was a lot easier, and from there on in I started to feel something. Two dominant emotions were:
- Irritation – everybody assumes that you’ve seen what’s trending on social media, and so you should know what is happening with friends, family, colleagues. Hey, I’m still here. I’m actually here. Let’s connect – for real. On the up side, it forced me and other people to explain and to make the effort to engage.
- In control – my mind was not being consumed by what I was seeing. Instead I could decide what I wanted to engage in. I found myself being far more focussed on what I needed to do each day, focussed on people around me, focussed on setting intentions.
At the end of September, I didn’t rush back to facebook to see what was happening. I took my time. It was good to be back, and to be connected. It was funny reading the posts from people from when I announced I was going offline for September. There was a mixture of ‘no ways, not you!’, to ‘oh no, I love your posts’, to ‘you go girl’. All of which I found endearing.
Things have changed. I am not posting as often. I’m not online as often. I’m discerning about how much time I spend scrolling, and it’s a lot less than it used to be. I’ve unfollowed a few pages and people. I don’t check-in everywhere I go. Chatting to people who noticed my absence, it’s interesting and encouraging to know that a) they noticed my absence, and b) they missed my posts. This means that even though I’ve been very critical of myself and what I was sharing and posting, the truth is that it does (in some small way) encourage, inspire and motivate others. It also gives them an insight into who I am, what I do and what’s important to me; and that can do a lot in forging solid relationships. Especially when one has very limited time to connect with people. When you do connect, it’s off a familiar base.
My ‘sebatical’ from social media also meant a sebatical from blogging. And blogging, for me, is like journalling. I pour my thoughts out into these posts. I hope that what I share resonates and adds some value to you. Albeit in the smallest of ways. If not, keep scrolling…
Chamapagne Castle, Drakensburg, South Africa. Picture taken by Alison Meyer.