Last December, I posted the following on Instagram and Facebook:
I haven’t posted since.
Several people have asked if I miss it, what I’ve noticed, and if I’ll return. Today’s blog is my attempt at an answer.
Why I Stepped Away
First, let me be clear: I am sharing my own experience, not providing commentary on yours or a judgment on the collective ‘right way’ to do things. You do you!
Second, I mostly stepped away from Instagram and Facebook (with the exception of a Facebook group I lead). I decided to stay on LinkedIn. Snapchat and Tik Tok (and probably dozens of other platforms I’m not even aware exist) never really felt up my alley.
Now, my reasons:
My first reason for stepping away involved my desire for greater mental clarity. I had started feeling too infused with others’ opinions, sometimes before I had a moment to form my own. I wanted greater silence to make sure I continued to think for myself.
As an achiever and sometimes-perfectionist, I could spend waaaay too much time crafting a post, editing, questioning if it might be misinterpreted, wondering if it aligned with my brand, etc etc. Simply put, the rewards often didn’t match the time and energy exerted.
Over time, I found myself becoming more reactive, and I tend to operate much better – for myself and for the world – when I am in proactive mode.
Kind of like decluttering my office or home nearly always leads to fresh ideas, spaciousness, and renewed energy, I wondered if decreasing my ‘electronic noise’ would have a similar effect. Also, after reading Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism, the contrarian in me did not want to give developers who aim to keep us addicted to our phones the satisfaction.
What I’ve Experienced
The impact has felt, not surprisingly, both negative and positive. On the downside, I miss seeing my friends’ kiddos in their first day of school pictures or instantly sharing about an excellent book I’ve read.
I must admit, however, that I still feel plenty informed. In addition, I am:
People can easily reach me in numerous ways: email, my blog, via my website, PO box, and so on. But removing direct messages from this list has streamlined my communication – and improved the timeliness of my responses – tremendously. Yes, it’s only a couple of inboxes that have been removed from the equation, but somehow I feel exponentially less scattered.
Instead of reaching for my phone when I’m in a waiting room, I more often reach for a book, or start a conversation, or (gasp!) just sit in silence for a few minutes. (That last one sometimes feels odd – especially in a room full of people on their phones – but also delightfully rebellious.) I feel more intentional with my time, which is super important to me.
Nowadays, exactly zero percent of my personal definition of success depends on how many ‘likes’ or followers a post gains, because it’s no longer a possible metric. I feel like I’m able to pour more into my client work, subscriber newsletters, and the like. It’s now more about the creation (fully in my control) than others’ reaction (not at all in my control).
Plus, my friends can show me their kids’ first day of school photos when we chat in person, and I can respond with more than a thumbs-up emoji.
Will I Return?
Honestly, I don’t know.
I have some exciting new projects in the works, and I know that sharing them on social media could be a good way to reach – and potentially positively impact – a larger number of people.
But every time I’ve considered returning, I’ve never felt the urge to take it any farther than that. For whatever reason, I am more likely to sit down and write a 700-word blog than a caption on social media.
So, I won’t be returning this week. Maybe next week – or month or year – I will change my mind.
Have you ever taken a break from social media? What did you experience? Feel free to share your thoughts below!