I’m back to the blog for what I hope will be an extended season of much more frequent blogging. As you can read about in this post, I spent last year from birthday to birthday (2020-2021) on a hiatus from clothes and shoes shopping. My goal was not to purchase any new items for a year. I just completed the year, and it was an immensely positive experience with benefits far outweighing any possible downsides. (You can read about the two exceptions to the challenge in my extended post about it.)
As I approached my birthday this year, I was feeling a pull to experiment with another hiatus, this time from social media. For years and years I have had this love/hate relationship with socials. I love some of the interaction and connection I get from them, but then I also end up feeling some sort of self-loathing after using it even for short spurts of time. It’s not self-loathing based on comparison to others, but more from simply wanting to be the kind of person who uses my time to do more productive, enriching or stimulating things. I’m worried it’s contributing to a shortening attention span, it’s not making me any smarter and as the book Bored and Brilliant says, it keeps me from ever being bored and letting my mind wander. I also just desperately want my kids to grow up in a house that isn’t dominated by phones and devices, and I know that starts with us as the parents setting the example.
So I’m going to try it. I’m going to try to spend a year from birthday to birthday off of social media (Instagram and Facebook). I may need to use it some professionally. Some of my work involves clients’ social media and I may use my extra time without personal social media usage to post a bit more on my professional pages, but I’ll do as much of that as possible from scheduling platforms so I avoid having to be in the apps.
I’ve done some extended time off of social media in the past. For a couple of different years it was a Lenten abstinence. There’s been one or two times I just deactivated my Facebook and stayed off of it for… I can’t remember exactly. Maybe a few months to half a year? Every time I do it, it’s always good. I never got to the end of those stretches and looked back and thought, “wow I really regret being off of social media.”
My birthday was a few days ago now and I had hoped to get a post up on the day-of. I can already see that making the time to sit down and complete a blog start to finish will take a lot more intentionality and effort than sitting down and using social media does. No surprise, there, of course. But I think what I’m saying is:
1. If I want to replace social media with blogging in terms of virtual connection and expression, it’s going to take more commitment, planning and thoughtfulness.
Which I think is a great thing, it will just take some adjustment from me and the way I manage my bits of free time. Another realization I’ve already had in just a few days (and is clarifying even as I sit here and type this) is:
2. I will have to continue to lean into imperfection if I want to put something forth at all.
This blog is personal, even though it’s attached to my business site. It’s not meant to be a work sample. For that, I have an entire portfolio of work to share with interested clients. It’s also not meant to be educational or to rank high on search engines. It’s here for me to share thoughts, life experiences, some photos, things I’m learning, etc. Realistically, the small pockets of time I have available to jot down some thoughts, organize them into a post and throw in some pictures will simply not allow obsessing over perfection. I’m positive that if I went back to re-read old blog posts from my college days I would find grammatical errors a-plenty. I would find stream-of-consciousness style of writing that wasn’t perfectly coherent and didn’t always flow smoothly. But I loved writing and sharing those posts and friends and family loved to read them. So that’s one of my goals: not to let the pursuit of (and my deep appreciation for) writing perfection keep me from sharing what I have.
The last realization I’ve already had in just a few days of social media hiatus is this:
3. I’m going to miss crowdsourcing for information.
When we move to a new city (right now we’re living somewhere just for 4-5 months), it’s so helpful to join Facebook groups from the local area to get recommendations for everything from a good pedicure to a good primary care provider. I’m not sure what’s going to be the best replacement for that kind of advice. Whenever I have a thought like that, “How am I going to do this without social media?” I ask myself, “Well, what did they do before social media?” and try to go from there. How did people share photos? How did they tell their friends about their day? How did they get hair salon recommendations?
I think even if/when I return to using social media, those are still practices I’d like to keep. This whole experiment has an underlying goal of increased one-on-one, high quality connections with people. By sending more texts, having more phone calls and video chats, writing more letters, and asking good questions.
That’s all for now. Hope to write a post soon about celebrating my birthday, maybe by next Wednesday?