What a month without social media has not given me.
I started writing this post on the 28th of April, so almost a month after beginning my ‘no social media’ challenge. The month has passed faster than expected and I haven’t struggled staying away from Facebook and Instagram nearly as much as I thought I would.
But equally, I don’t think that the ‘social media detox’ made a substantial difference in the way I felt, overall. People rave about the mysterious ‘higher level of perception’ and ‘utter emotional serenity’ that swearing off social media, even for a short while, have brought into their life, but I’m yet to experience these benefits.
It’s not that I observed no benefits at all. Now that I take an honest look back into April, I can clearly see the impact that not being consantly glued to my phone and/or computer screen had on my life:
- I managed to read three books and listen to one audiobook which — compared to my average monthly read of one book (and zero audiobooks) — is a considerable improvement.
- I met and talked to quite a lot of people, especially during the second part of my travel across Thailand —unable to hide behind my phone, pretending I was super busy doing something extremely important (as one is on a paradise island with no reception…), I was sort of forced to make eye contact and connect with those around me.
- Surprisingly I also ended up watching much less TV (or Netflix, in my case) and that, again, freed more time for other activities, like sports, Japanese classes (which I finally managed to sign up to…!), meeting friends and, as per the first point, reading.
- I started regularly listening to podcasts during my morning commute (when I’m too sleepy to read) and discovered quite a lot of new titles, learning a lot of interesting stuff in an almost passive way. To ‘spice things up’ a little, I’d spend my evening commute reading and thus increasing my monthly reading ratio. A win-win situation, if you ask me.
- In April I also took photos purely for myself and not for my modest Instagram following. This meant that I took much less photos on my mobile, instead switching to my camera, which I always inteded to use more, but somehow couldn’t. Funnily enough, seeing my friends take photos of food or drinks, only to post them on Instagram, did make me feel a bit weird. Don’t you think it’s a very weird behavioural pattern that we’ve developed…!?
Now these ‘results’ definitely made staying away from social media worth the while and I’ll be trying to keep some of the healthier habits alive (like the ones surrounding my commute or after-work time), but like with everything in life, completely detaching from the virtual world didn’t come without cost;
- I stopped texting and communicating with my friends as much as I used to, which of course gave me more free time to focus on other stuff, but also made some of my friends feel a little bit abandoned… and I don’t blame them! I myself hate when people are flakey, replying to texts late or failing to stay in touch in general, and then I became that very person!
- My friend and her partner decided to elope and get married, and I completely missed it…!
- Avicii was pronounced dead on the 20th of April and I only found out about it from others. Considering that I was spending that very weekend in Stockholm, Avicii’s hometown, I’m sure I’d find out about it sooner or later, but still...
(Totally off topic, I’m still so sad about it all…! I’ll read more about the circumstances of his death tomorrow, when my ban on social media is lifted, but for now I’m listening to his True album on repeat, barely managing to stop myself from crying everytime I hear ‘Hey Brother’…).
- Somehow relatedly, I stopped reading news in general and I’m sure I must’ve missed quite a lot of world events... Considering how much the news from Poland upset me lately, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I feel I’ll have some catching up to do in May.
- April was full of so many cool experiences I was dying to share with the world, but couldn’t, which left me somehow disappointed. But fear not! You shall all soon be flooded with all the photos from Dubai, Thailand, Sweden, London, my birthday party… Feel free to unfollow me ;).
- On that note, I had a quick look at my Instagram account just now and I lost 30+ followers…! Where did they all go?! Can someone explain this to me?
- Lastly, I really fell out of my writing habit. Even though I didn’t write that much in March, at least I wrote a couple of posts here on Medium and I also write regularly at work, which kept the spark burning. My long(er) holiday and staying away from Medium really chipped into my writing confidence and freedom of written expression… Again, something to work on in May.
Most importantly — as mentioned at the beginning of this post — I’m not sure if I feel any calmer or more relaxed after disconnecting from social media for a fullmonth, which is the opposite of what I expected.
It might be that being bombarded with information and stimuli from other sources almost all the time, obscured the difference that abstaining from social media would’ve otherwise made.
The truth is that work has been very intense lately, so even though I was away on holiday for the first 8 days of April, I still had to check my emails from time to time and respond to most urgent enquiries. In reality I had to write only a couple emails, but splitting my attention between my well-deserved rest time and all the imagined work-related challenges, and hundred of emails flooding my inbox on a daily basis, really threw me off balance. It was as if I didn’t disconnect from the world at all. Then the situation got even worse when I got back — I’ve had to work late at night and during the weekend sometimes, which really blurred the boundary between work and life (though I’m not a big believer in work-life balance… at the end of the day, work is a big part of life and life inevitably affects work).
I’m a bit disappointed that I have just read Tim Ferris’ The 4-Hour Work Week and yet I’ve already failed at upholding its main premise of always spending the rest time actually resting…
But it’s all a journey and everything is a lesson, so in May I’m taking a step back and focusing on becoming more mindful and ‘in-the-moment’.
My May challenge will be going through Mindful in May, a month-long mindfulness immersion/training programme made in Australia ; and what could be more relaxing than a smiley Aussie lady guiding you through a daily meditation session?
I attempted to do this very course last year, but halfway through the month I went through a tough breakup and connecting to my feelings and inner state was literally the last thing I wanted to do. Being mindful was killing me softly rather than invigorating me — so I decided to drop it.
I’ve resolved to give it another go this year — so I think I should also stay away from dating for a month, just in case someone decides to be mean to me again haha — and I’ll be telling you more about it in the next couple of days. In the meantime, feel free to visit Mindful in May website and sign up for the challenge…! According to the creators of the programme, ‘It takes 10 minutes a day to transform your mind… and the world.’
Are you ready to set aside 10 minutes a day to transform your life?