5 Lessons Learned During a 7 Day Social Media Fast
You can learn a great deal about yourself and how you do things when you attempt to stop doing those things you’ve been doing.
You might even discover that you weren’t actually doing what you thought you were doing.
At least that’s how it happened for me when I took my coach up on a challenge to do a “7 day Social Media Fast.”
What I learned, shocked me.
Did it cause me to leave social media forever?
No. I love Social Media. It’s a powerful way to connect with people and to share the message I’ve been called to share with others throughout the world.
What it did do is allow me to see how I was BEing around social media and to approach social media in a new way.
My intention in writing this post is to be a catalyst for you to be aware… that is to notice… if you are in control of social media or if social media is in control of you.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
5 lessons I learned on my 7 Day Social Media Fast:
Lesson #1 – The World Keeps Spinning
FOMO is an acronym that surfaced a few years back in a New York Times article. What does it stand for?
Fear Of Missing Out.
One of the lessons I learned during my social media fast was that I had a very real feeling of missing out on something. Nothing specific… just something – which is probably worse than knowing what you are missing.
Of course, this is not new… I think every human being alive has probably experienced that feeling of missing out at some point in their lives.
What I discovered is that social media is simply an easy way to magnify the fear.
My guess is that it has to do with the simple fact that there’s more to know about. So if there’s more to know about then there “must” be more to miss out on.
Lesson #2 – Posting for the Wrong Reasons
This one popped up within 2 hours of starting the fast. I was taking a walk (what else was there to do with no social media) and listening to an audiobook. While I was listening, I heard a great quote. I immediately paused the book and had this urge to post the quote – with a screenshot of the book I was listening to.
Now here’s the thing, I still post insights I get from reading or listening to books.
However, what I noticed that day was WHY I was wanting to post that quote… and why I had been posting most quotes.
Well, for me, I wanted people to know I was reading a great book. I wanted people to think I was smart. I wanted to impress people. I wanted to be liked…AHHHH! THAT’S IT… I wanted to BE liked… not just “get” likes… BE liked.
Wow… yuck… that sounds awful and shallow.
It was both an agonizing and powerful revelation at the time because I realized how I’d been showing up around social media.
What this revelation did for me was allow me to see I’d been posting for the wrong reasons – not because they are “wrong” as in bad – more like wrong because that is not a useful behavior based on who I am committed to BEing in my life.
In a word it was…weak… uncertain… ok, that’s two words but you get the point.
In that moment I also realized something else…
Lesson 3 – I don’t have to document my life – especially not in the moment
Let me say it again for the record… I love social media and the reach it allows a person, organization or business to have. It’s amazing.
AND… if I allow social media to control me instead of me controlling social media, then what I find happens is life gets interrupted. And those interruptions often turn into incomplete experiences.
Interruptions often turn into incomplete experiences.
For instance, back to my book and my walk. When I paused the book, my brain had to stop thinking about the book and the incredible insight I’d just heard and start focusing on the mechanics of how we would post this to social media.
As you likely know, that simple pause and post could easily (and often does) lead to a whole series of events that lead me down some rabbit hole. And that hole can be 30 seconds deep or never-ending.
It’s simply another form of task switching which is proven to be highly unproductive. In fact, Psychology Today reports that task switching (often inaccurately called multi-tasking) can rob you of 40% of your productivity in a day.
In short, by pausing to post in the midst of an activity, I miss out on the power of that moment. Worse yet, that excitement and the energy of that moment can dissipate and never return.
If the moment or idea is truly powerful, then relax… it’ll be there later. Post it then. Don’t interrupt the flow and power of being in the moment.
You can still snap a pic, bookmark an article or idea… just wait to post it.
Lesson 4 – I Could Suddenly Expand Time
According to a Digital Trends article from June 2015 the average person in the US spends 4.7 hours per day on their phone and checks social networks 17 times per day – or about once per hour for every hour they are awake.
And the highest usage?
It’s not “kids these days”… it’s adults aged 25-54.
“While social networking may have started as a viral craze for U.S. teenagers, it’s steadily matured into an everyday lifestyle for many adults around the world who are now eclipsing teens and young adults as most-frequent users”
By not being able to check social media I suddenly had a lot of extra time. So much so that I read three entire books that week. I also discovered that I checked my email less because my phone and my computer simply weren’t in front of me as often.
So while I didn’t actually find a wormhole to bend and stretch time, it certainly felt like I did.
Lesson 5 – Less Brain Clutter
After the need and desire to check-in, post, reply, tweet, etc. went away (about 36 hours for me) I suddenly felt very calm. My brain knew this was a seven-day exercise and it no longer seemed to be on alert for post worthy material.
Plus, there simply was a whole lot less input to process. I’m trying to imagine right now as I write this how many pieces of information our brain must have to sort and process for just a 5-minute scroll through facebook?
The longer I was off social media, the less fog and clutter my brain seemed to experience.
So what was my big takeaway and why did I go back?
Because despite the shortcomings, social media is a powerful tool for connection. The key is to control it and not let it control you. Kinda like food, alcohol, sex, relationships, exercise, work, etc.
Now let me ask you…
What tools, tactics, or techniques do you use to control social media so that it doesn’t control you?
Let me know in the comments below…
In your corner,