It's been eight days since I returned to social media after a 30-day detox.
Except I didn't return. Not entirely, anyway.
The day my detox ended, I debated for a bit over whether I should log onto my social media accounts -- Facebook and Instagram, in particular, as those two platforms tend to be my downfall. Would I be checking because I genuinely wanted to see all those pictures and status updates? Or would I be checking out of some strange obligation now that it was "allowed" again? I hadn't missed social media during my time away, so why go back?
My curiosity eventually got the best of me, but not the kind of curiosity one might think. I didn't care so much about what I'd see when I logged in. I was much more interested in how seeing all of those things would make me feel.
I decided to start with Facebook.
I can't even find my Facebook app on my phone. Where did I put it? Oh yeah, in that secret, hidden folder I created 30 days ago and titled "DO NOT OPEN."
What do you mean, wrong password? Did I really forget my Facebook password after just one month?
Apparently. Reset password, please.
Whoa. Lots of notifications... all of them things I already knew. See? I hadn't really missed anything, after all.
Hmmm. If I saw this person at the grocery store, would I strike up a conversation and invite her to coffee? If not, then I probably don't need to know what she ate for dinner.
After 10 minutes, a time that was mostly spent unsubscribing from various updates, scrolling through my feed felt almost like a burden. A chore. Certainly not an enjoyable way to spend my time. I signed off and, given the experience, decided to skip Instagram entirely. I didn't need to look, and I didn't really want to look.
Since then, I've checked Facebook only a couple of times to double-check birthdays and respond to event invites.
For work purposes, it's important that I keep active on Twitter (which was made all the more apparent during my detox). However, this is the one social media platform I've always used responsibly -- and one that doesn't give me angsty, FOUL-like feelings -- so I feel comfortable about my return.
Does all this mean I'll never check Facebook or Instagram again? Of course not. They are perfectly great platforms and very useful in a lot of ways -- just not the ways I'd been using them.
My 30-day detox taught me I don't have to be connected to everything and everyone all the time. The world will not stop rotating if I don't see the cute baby photo my relative uploaded or the passive-aggressive status updates after a favorite sports team's disappointing loss. I can use social media as little or as much as I want; but when I choose to stay away, I come out much happier.
Have a similar experience? Tried a social media detox of your own? We'd love to hear from you. Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.