Thoughts on a 6+ week social media break

Thoughts on a 6+ week social media break

An extended social media fast had been brewing with me for a long time. Facebook has been a thorn in my emotional side since the 2016 election, honestly, but it has been hard to cut the cord because the platform is the only way I communicate in certain personal and professional relationships. Twitter hasn’t ever been a problem for me, it isn’t even a time suck. I check twitter every single day, it’s my favorite source for news and opinions, but I rarely use it on my phone, nor does it make me emotional in any way. 

Instagram has long been my social media app of choice, but more and more I found myself losing (literally) hours to it over the course of a day. I use it to avoid feelings and chores and delude myself into thinking it’s “work” or that I’m actually connecting with people. When my husband left in January to make a movie for five long months, I knew after just a few weeks of solo parenting and general life chaos that I should make some dramatic changes to my personal routines and that included removing the distraction and emotion-swirling effects of social media. 

But I am addicted to this stuff, there is no doubt. I enjoy the creativity of it and the gratification of instant feedback. I genuinely like seeing other people’s creativity and work and their lives as depicted on a little screen. However, by the time I officially started my social media break - using Lent as a loose time frame - I was so ready to make the change that I didn’t suffer the withdrawal I thought I would given social media’s prominence in my brain. 

A few things I did notice, based on notes I took along the way…

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10 Notes on starting a blog when blogging is dead.

1. Blogging is over, right? Donzo. Lame.

Was it always lame? Kind of. I mean, it was never cool. But there was a time when everyone was into blogs. A lot of people blogged and a lot of people read blogs and it was both an embarrassment and awesome. Everyone wanted other people to share their most personal stuff on the internet so we could read it. A lot of us fell on that sword, giddy over having a voice for possibly the first time. Now, it wasn't all rainbows and roses, even in its heyday blogging got a bad rap. Sometimes the people who were the most critical of personal blogging were also the most avid readers. But the most important part was real and true: people shared themselves and connected with strangers across the world. The blogging eruption was a history-making, world-shrinking miracle. 

2. And then, sure as sky, the big backlash happened. Popular blogs became too commercial, babies of mom bloggers grew up, people who wrote eloquently about their life struggles were outed as being insane. The monkeys ran away with the circus, as they say. 

3. I had a blog, back in the day.

Writing on the internet saved my life in some ways, kept me company during some lonely years and was one long course in personal essay writing. I enjoyed it, it opened a lot of doors for me, I traveled around the world three times on invitations stemming from my blog. But then I killed it with worry. Strangled it under the crushing fear of other people’s opinions. I grew tired and stressed over my blog and when the opportunity came for me to jump off that train, I gladly took it. 

 

4. But I’ve actually missed blogging in the intervening years. Not chasing page views and navigating algorithms, that part makes online content creators fully fetal. But the genuine sharing, on a site that’s not being manipulated by a foreign entity, or governed by a character count. I like writing on the internet. 

5. You know what else, I like? Lists.

6. And my real gift to the world is bossiness. Among friends and family and online acquaintances, I am known for telling you EXACTLY what you should do, the books you should read, what to order, how to feel, align, organize, breathe. My obsessions come in fast and deep and then I have an uncontrollable desire to share them with the world.

7. The internet has been great for me.

8. And also, not so great. I have true concerns about how all this screen time is changing our brains and hearts and culture at large. 

9. But every time I start to think about stepping away from the internet forever (I’ve never truly contemplated stepping away from the internet forever), I come back to the piece about sharing. I think that people sharing their stuff - the personal, the trivial, and life's most important lessons - is the key to connection and peace.

10. I might run out of things to say after the first six months. But for now, I have 10 Things To Tell You.