It is no secret our online lives are consumed with likes. Personal validation often comes in the form of a digital thumbs up or colorful emoji. But amid the lighthearted posts, reactions, and comments, there is a dark side. Insecurity, rejection, jealousy, deception, procrastination, and addiction are negative aspects of logging on and the problem is, we might not realize it until it is too late.
Social media strengthens family bonds, fosters old and new friendships, informs, leads to exciting opportunities, inspires dreams, and even helps people find love. Yet in an ironic twist, the very tools intended to connect and encourage deeper relationships can also create division and a severe sense of loneliness.
Social media is not for everyone.
Like many, social media had become a habit for me. And while some might not view it as a negative experience, time online took over a large part of my day. And the more it did, the less I accomplished – for family, around the home, as a writer. I needed to make a change, a dedicated effort to redirect my energy and purpose.
For the past year, I have been shifting my personal life away from the virtual world, back into the real one. I decreased my screen time, logged on less often, and allowed myself to deal with the discomfort that comes from missing out.
It has been a test that I failed many times. I admit I felt left out knowing others were keeping in touch more. I worried people would no longer think or care about me because I was not posting or commenting enough. I wondered if they would view my absence and lack of interaction as indifference to their own lives. It took a long time to find peace with my decision and in all honesty, I am still working on it.
The longer I stay offline, the more I realize how little it serves my personality. I love seeing photos of my friends, their funny posts, and news about their accomplishments and travels. But I also find it overwhelming. It is too much to process for a mind like mine that single tasks and works methodically. I am simply wired differently, thriving on face to face interactions and deep conversations.
This is not a rail against technology or social media. In fact, as a writer and blogger I am very involved in both. As part of my job, I enjoy staying informed, learning new things, connecting with others, and meeting interesting people. But I also need balance and in seeking that balance, I remember there are many things to love – offline. Nature, home, travel, health, animals, self, people, solitude, companionship, work, and hobbies to name a few.
When we step away from the screen and focus on what is tangible and in front of us, we reclaim a part of ourselves and re-discover the simple joy of being in a moment.
It is okay to give in to modern world expectations and be social. Like your laptop, but seek to love your life more.
A FEW TIPS:
Decide. Does logging on create tension within family or friendships? Does it interfere with work or productivity? Does it keep you from doing what you want? If it does not enhance your current life or future goals, a change may be needed.
Start. Make a conscious and logical decision to log off. Ease into the change and realize it might take time to retrain yourself. Begin with short breaks – one hour, one day, one week – to find what is manageable.
Simplify. If you log on, go back briefly to see what has been shared in your newsfeed. Focus on notifications and private messages. Reach out and connect with those who love hearing from you.
Plan. When you log off, have an idea of what will fill the time. To stay motivated, combine small and large projects so you can feel an immediate sense of accomplishment while working toward a larger goal.
Enjoy. You are giving up online time for something greater. Spend those regained moments pursuing what you love, with people who matter. Making the perceived sacrifice worth it will lead to a successful transition.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash