Social Media Minimalism

I haven’t written in a while.
So many things happening and yet nothing. I feel quieted and as if minimalism is more the norm now than not. Many of us doing less, and seeing so few people that writing about living minimally seems almost trite.

I’ve asked myself recently what minimalism looks like when everything seems to be at its most minimum right now. So many people still unseen. Adventures still on hold. Outings still scrutinized and reviewed. Even the way we are choosing to eat seems to have joined the minimalistic train. I’ll save that particular adventure for another blog, but eating Keto has proven to have many benefits for our particular needs and I’m enjoying seeing the results of that adventure and hard work.

A few weeks ago I woke with a feeling of discontent. Not an overall discontent with life or plans, more about how I was spending my days. MP is back to work full time after a wonderful summer off. We took full advantage of the minimal living by camping multiple times and really roughing it, choosing to go as remote as possible and live very small. We loved it.

On that particular morning I realized that I spend quite a bit of time, daily, reviewing my social media accounts. Its a half hour here, 20 minutes there. A quick update review between tasks. My phone gave me a percentage of time I had spent that week on Facebook and Instagram and I was surprised at the double digit number that was much higher than any other apps numbers. Had I really spent that much time scrolling through other peoples pictures, memes and shared comments? And if so, what else could I have been doing with that time that I am sure would have been of greater value?

I have also realized recently that often times, after I have spent the first part of my day scrolling that I don’t feel positive. I don’t feel like I am energized and ready to launch into a productive day. Actually, quite the opposite.

So with those personal observations, I decided to do a social media fast. I set a goal to not look at social media for 7 days. I figured that at the end of 7 days I would have a very good feel for how it felt to not be on social media and I could make some decisions on what to keep.

With that decision, I text my kids, told them the plan and reminded them that if they needed me I could still be reached through text messaging or phone and that I would still love them to send me photos of the grand babies! I found it intriguing that I quickly got asked if everything was ok? As if going off social media meant something might be wrong. I assured them I was fine and just taking a break.

It proved to be an interesting week. The first day I found myself ‘clicking’ or almost clicking on the apps on my phone strictly out of habit. I’d get on the elevator and go to click the app. I’d be waiting in the car and go to click the app. I’d be standing in line and pick up my phone to do a quick check. It was habit! I wasn’t even thinking about what I was about to view. Each time I’d stop myself but I was aware that my brain was not used to down time.

After the first day or so, that habit became less prevalent, but I found myself wondering how to use certain times of the day. Like, first thing in the morning while drinking coffee, or the last few minutes of the day between MP getting off work and that evening cocktail. I started looking for positive articles to read or blogs to scan about things that I find interesting or uplifting. I worked on my craft projects a little more and picked up a book I had stopped reading midway through, which meant recharging my kindle.

After the 5th day I wasn’t really missing it. My time was being used in more fulfilling ways. I felt better. I didn’t have useless information taking up space in my brain. Mostly, it felt quieter. I did miss the ‘stories’ where my kids post cute videos of their kids doing cute things that Nana’s like to see. But other than that, I wasn’t any worse for the wear.

At the seven day mark, I opened each app, curious on what I had missed and here is the thing that really kind of surprised me. I hadn’t really missed anything. There were about 50 posts on each, most of them adds for HGTV and some cute photos that although they were fun to see, didn’t really have anything at all to do with my life. I opened some pages I follow only to find people upset about this or that all of which had been fixed by the time I was looking at the information and none of which I would have commented on.

Let me say here that I am not anti-social media. I enjoy it as much as the next person, but what I did realize is its easy to get sucked into looking at it way more than one thinks they do. And when it all comes up at once, after 7 days I realized very quickly how little of it matters. How missing it didn’t affect me in any tangible way at all.

At the end of my 7 day minimalistic approach to social media, I committed to another 7 days. I made it about 5 before I looked again. I was bored and in a waiting room with nothing to do and so what did I do? I opened my social media accounts and began to scroll. Nothing had changed. It was all the same things and I realized that if I wanted to break this habit I had to plan to fill my time with something else. I had to bring my kindle with me. I had to have articles saved to read. I had to have headphones so I could listen to a podcast.

That fast started about 6 weeks ago. I did great the first week, good the second week and then I found myself starting to fall right back into the habit of mindlessly scrolling multiple times a day again. Its so easy. Its so available. Its mostly useless.

I’ve debated taking the apps off my phone. For some reason, even after realizing what I have, that seems extreme. I feel like I will somehow lose contact…with people…that I haven’t talked to in years. Hm….

For now, I am working again on another ‘fast’. I am only looking at social media twice a day. Not in the mornings and not before bed. I’m muting people and things that aren’t mostly positive or at least neutral. I’m trying to find things to read that inspire me daily and I’m writing more than I have in a long time. I’ve started journaling daily with the goal to write at least 500 words every day. I’m on day 50 and enjoying that practice very much.

I’m researching and finding new music and I’m following blogs about things that interest me and that I want to learn about. Finance, retirement, art, decorating, middle age career changes.

Overall, I feel like this was a good experiment in minimalism. Digital minimalism. While my journey may not be everyone’s, taking some time off from this form of entertainment taught me some good things about myself. I want to use my time better. I want to know at the end of the day I learned something of value and am a more well rounded person then when I woke up. I am quite sure at the end of my life I will not regret having not spent more time on social media.

Let me know what you think. Have you set limits on you scrolling time and if so how did you manage it?

Until next time,

Rache