One of my goals for this year was to take a one month social media fast, in December I decided January would be the month. But then the week before Christmas I thought, why not start early?
So, my one month social media fast ended up being six weeks.
I decided to stay off of both Instagram and Facebook for the fast.
Instagram is where I was spending most of my time and found myself scrolling mindlessly or checking to see if people had commented on what I had posted. If we are going to toss around the word “addiction” then Instagram would have been it.
Facebook was different. Facebook I have not enjoyed for years and generally only checked it every few days but for a few reasons I continue to have a Facebook account, so an excuse to not check it for a month sounded great to me.
WHY DID I JOIN IN THE FIRST PLACE?
My reasons for joining Facebook and Instagram were both different. I was an early adopter to both and joined Facebook at the beginning of 2007 and Instagram at the beginning of 2011.
I joined Facebook to stay in touch with a friend who lived in a different province and I joined Instagram for the pictures, both sharing them and being inspired by others. For me Facebook was all about the people I knew in person and Instagram was about following people I didn’t know and for the most part that still holds true.
WHERE IT WENT WRONG
Eventually both just got to be too much. I actually quit Facebook for fifteen months a few years ago and decided to come back for a few reasons, now that I have it again I still hardly use it. One thing I love about the way I use Facebook is that I don’t have a news feed, so when I do use it I don’t get sucked into that black hole because nothing appears there.
Instagram became motivation for me to pick up my camera or phone more to ensure I took pictures, I loved that. I loved the push to be more creative it gave me but eventually it became too much of a comparison game and jealousy definitely set in.
But where they both actually went wrong was I when they stitched to algorithms instead of chronological posting and as I result I started over thinking the posts I was sharing. Because I make my income online social media is part of that and I started becoming nearly obsessive over trying to figure out the algorithm (newsflash: it’s always changing and impossible to figure out).
So, it was time for a break.
LESSONS I LEARNED DURING MY SOCIAL MEDIA FAST
My break actually surprised me. I thought I would miss social media way more than I did. I didn’t really miss it at all and when February 1st rolled around I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to log back in (though, I did).
Here are a few things I learned over my six week break:
#1 I DON’T NEED TO SHARE EVERYTHING WITH EVERYONE
There were a few times where I took a cool picture or saw a funny joke and then I wished for a brief moment that I was on social media but instead I just decided to send these types of things to friends or family directly and that was actually a lot more rewarding.
#2 IT GAVE ME MORE TIME FOR READING
It’s amazing how much the social media time can really add up. This gave me more time to do other things I enjoy, like reading! One of my goals for this year was actually to read less, but when I made that goal I didn’t factor in that I would be having extra time and so far I didn’t read any less in January.
#3 THERE ARE OTHER THINGS I ENJOY
The break also gave me time to explore other things that I enjoy, and while it is another form of social media in a way, during this time I realized how much I like YouTube. I came across some great content creators and I realized what made YouTube different than Facebook and Instagram (in a broad sense) is how much time and effort people put into creating videos and opposed to just sharing photos or articles on IG and FB.
This extra time also gave me time to explore other hobbies and interests I have.
#4 I WROTE MORE
I also took this extra time to write a lot more, one of my favorite things to do!
#5 I DOCUMENTED MY DAYS DIFFERENTLY
I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and I still did take a number throughout the six weeks but I also started documenting more with video, totally inspired by the 1 Second Everyday app, and I managed to take a short video each day in January! I am continuing to document daily moments using video though I’m not sure if I will continue using the app for the rest of the year. It’s a cool idea but I want to make each video a big longer.
#6 MY TRAFFIC DIDN’T GO DOWN
One of the reasons I’ve convinced myself that I am on social media is to promote my websites but to be honest, my traffic didn’t actually go down as a result of not being present on social media. I have two different blogs that automatically post to Facebook when a new post is up so that didn’t change and Instagram doesn’t bring in a whole lot of website traffic anyway so that also didn’t change.
#7 I MADE MORE CONNECTIONS
Here’s a really big difference: I made a lot more connections in the six weeks of the fast, both online and offline.
I used some of my extra time online to write regular email newsletters and write more emails and I really enjoyed that.
In my personal life I enjoyed not worrying about if I missed a post a friend had shared, I could just tell them I’m not on social media at the moment and I could hear about their news in person instead of feeling bad something didn’t show up in my feed.
#8 I FELT LESS JEALOUS
A big part of this has to do with the time of year. January (well, winter), is a big struggle for me living in such a cold place. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing and seeing other people’s photos of warmer climates or trips during this season can make things a lot worse. Not being on social media helped to reduce the feelings of jealousy.
SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGES I’M MAKING TO PRIORITIZE MY LIFE
My social media fast was a really good one and I am considering making it an annual occurrence each January. I’m not ready to completely jump the social media ship but I do want to make some everyday changes in order to make sure things that are more important to me are actually getting more of my time. Here are nine ways I plan to keep my social media use in check:
#1 I’m not installing the Facebook app
I actually haven’t had the Facebook app on my phone for a few years, so this is just going to continue.
#2 I’m going to continue to use the Facebook Feed Eradicator
This is another one that is not a real change, just a continuation.
#3 I only plan on checking Facebook every few days
Once again, not huge changes but something I hope to continue.
I started with Facebook, so these are easy ones for me since I don’t really enjoy the site, let’s get onto the harder ones . . .
#4 I’m only going to post to Instagram when I feel like I have something I want to share
Part of my problem was that I felt a certain (self-imposed) pressure to post every day or nearly every day and then only at certain times of the day (it seemed like when I posted in the evenings on my personal account more people saw my stuff). No more of that. Now I am going to post when I feel like I have a picture or words I want to share, no matter what time of day. And if I don’t have anything to share or don’t feel like sharing I don’t.
#5 I’ll use a scheduling app for my business Instagram
I have been doing this for quite a while and use the free Hootsuite app and website. This way I can use my “work time” to schedule Instagram posts instead of having to worry about it during the rest of my day.
#6 I won’t obsessively check to see if people liked or commented on my photos
This may be the biggest adjustment, and it goes along with this next change:
#7 I can only be in Instagram for 10 minutes a day
I have an app on my phone that tells me how much time I’m on each app. I can set it so my phone will block me out after 10 minutes and I’ve already got that set up. I am only using this 10 minutes a day rule for my personal Instagram, on my work account there are some days where I will spend more time than 10 minutes replying to comments and then there are some days where I don’t log in to that account at all!
#8 I’m not using my business account on the weekends
I haven’t always been perfect at this but I really do try to stay off of my business Instagram account on weekends and I do like the freedom it gives.
#9 I need to comment on every fifth photo (or less)
I don’t want to mindless scroll so I will need to comment on every fifth photo (or less), it will help me engage and be involved in the Instagram community and show people that I care about their photos and lives more than just giving it a double tap. It has also made me unfollow a number of people because if I don’t have anything to comment on, should I really be following them?
And there you have it, the lessons I learned during my social media fast and the changes I’ve made since!
Have you ever done a social media fast? What did you enjoy about it? Did you make any changes? I would love for you to leave me a comment below and let me know!