No Media November is over! As promised, I have been off Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, oh my. And I have to say, I have loved it.
My biggest observations with no social media:
I had more free time. A LOT more! Those little stolen minutes here and there really add up. During No Media November, I read my books and magazines at twice the usual pace — I got through 2 fiction and 1 non-fiction books, as opposed to my usual 1.5. I also spent more time catching up with my husband after the kids were in bed, as opposed to scrolling frantically through my Facebook feed and Facebook suggested news.
I missed some stuff. I felt like the last to know about news stories that came up. For example, and most upsetting, I found out about the Paris attacks the morning after they happened, I was so unplugged. It was the slowest news-hearing pace I’ve had since the late 90s. I also missed: the baby sex announcement of a relative, a handful of birthdays of friends I would have written Facebook comments for, all the Thanksgiving updates and photos of cute kids and fur babies, and probably a ton more.
But . . . the important stuff found its way to me (as far as I know). My friend’s baby announcement came to me in an email and via text messages. A close friend’s birthday got an emoji-laden Happy Birthday text message from me (I remembered without Facebook’s prompting). And instead of posting a couple of articles that I thought my friends would enjoy, as I would normally do, I simply emailed the articles to the friends I thought would like them, with a little note. They wrote back, and I got to reconnect with them on a much deeper level than I would have on a Facebook comment.
So, the connections I felt were fewer, but much deeper and more satisfying than the social media connections. The stuff I missed, I’m sure I will be caught up on when I see people and actually talk to them. And everything else I can classify as missable.
Overall, life did feel a lot more present, as I remembered it feeling in the pre-social media era. The world actually felt much bigger without all those superficial “connections” coming at me from different directions. Walking my son back from school on our beloved Old Croton Aqueduct trail, I had a moment where I felt a touch of glee in fully inhabiting my little place in the world, and not knowing what was going on outside of that. There is some mystery and wonder there that I hadn’t felt in a while, and it feels delicious.
Maybe the best part was that I worried a lot less about what people think of me. When I make comments on social media, I engage in a LOT of self-censorship. I can’t usually write exactly what I want to write initially (let alone what I think — then everyone would REALLY hate me! Ha!). I’m just very sensitive about not offending people (especially people who don’t know me well enough to probably know what I mean), not being misunderstood generally, not cussing (too much), what so and so I haven’t seen since 2007 might think, whether such and such relative might think I’m referring to them when I’m not and get upset, and so on. It’s kind of a pain. In person, I worry about this a lot less, because I have context and non-verbal cues on my side. On my blog, I also worry about this less, just because I have enough space to explain myself and thus less chance of being misunderstood. And the topics I blog about are narrow enough that my truly offensive thoughts never need surface. 😉 I know I could just not comment on social media, but it’s not as engaging to not engage. I should probably just get over being so paranoid about upsetting people, but I haven’t. So.
I also worry about indulging in narcissism and/or appearing narcissistic, especially when others’ blatant narcissism is on display (which is kind of enjoyable in a weird way, like hate-liking?). But that is a whole can of worms to open up another time.
All very interesting results, and not necessarily what I expected!
So, lessons learned: Don’t go on social media every day. Don’t worry about missing stuff. Err on the side of spending time off-line as opposed to on. Get over fear of offending people on social media . . . ? (Why is this one so hard? I really have to get over this, don’t I?)
How much will I go back? I really don’t know! Surely not to the level I did before, which was a daily minimum of 15 minutes, usually at the end of the day. I think I have shaken the compulsive need I had to get through my whole Facebook newsfeed on a daily basis. But a little part of me is really, really curious to see what’s going on over there! And to get on Facebook when I’m bored. Facebook is perfect for that.
I guess I will check it out today and get back to you.
If you have any insights or experiences with social media hiatuses, please share in the Comments.