Wednesday, February 25, 2015

If You Make a Resoluton and Don't Tell The Internet, Did It Really Happen?

I've been attempting an experiment of sorts. Yes, it happens to be coinciding with Lent, but I'm going for a lifestyle change rather than just giving something up for 40 days. (That was never a priority in our house or churches growing up, and just hasn't stuck properly since then.)

And really, I'm not actually giving anything up. What I'm attempting to do is avoid social media unless I want to be using it or if I'm intentionally doing something that requires me to be on social media.

(I intend no judgment on anyone. Your time is yours to do with as you please, and mine is mine.)

Over the past few years, my social media usage has gotten a little out of hand. If I'm on the computer and have nothing to do, I find myself clicking over to Facebook. (A year or two ago, I even deleted the bookmark so I'd have to actively think about typing in the URL, but it only took about a week until my fingers stopped being aware of what they were doing.) I'd find myself browsing on Goodreads instead of, you know, actually reading. I'd mindlessly click the Instagram app on my phone, or scroll through my Twitter feed even though I didn't really want to be doing it.

And I realized that I was wasting an awful lot of time doing things I wasn't enjoying. What am I really getting out of all those hours of perusing?

via Death to Stock Photo

I knew it was kind of unrealistic to quit social media cold turkey, because like it or not, it actually is pretty useful for a lot of things. Instead, I wanted to be mindful about why I'm using it and how often, instead of just clicking out of habit, or because I have nothing better to do.

It's been about a week since I've started thinking about this, and I've already discovered a few things. First of all, it is incredibly difficult to avoid Facebook and Goodreads (my favorites of the socials) if you're not thinking about it. It is so deeply ingrained in me to want to constantly check those sites that I've caught myself several times clicking over before realizing what I've done. But without so much social media, I've been spending significantly less time on the computer and on my phone every day, and I like the idea of where this is heading. I always felt like I spent too much time each day looking at screens.

But because I knew there was no quitting altogether, I've also been thinking about what I do on social media. I've caught myself wanting to take pictures just to have something to post on Instagram, instead of to remember a moment. I've caught myself wanting to update Goodreads with the number of pages that I've finished of that book I'm reading, even though that information really doesn't benefit me since I have a bookmark in my actual book. I've caught myself thinking something that seemed funny to me, and feeling like I needed immediate acknowledgment for said funny thought via Twitter approval.

For me, it all boiled down to … how much do I care what other people think of me? Why should I care about what other people think of me?

I want to use social media for what it actually is: a tool for connecting with people. I don't want to be a slave to it. I don't want to feel obligated to do things because of it. I for sure don't want to waste all my time doing something that bores me when I could be doing awesome things instead.

So that's where I'm at right now. But I'd love to know what you think. Are you happy with the amount of time you spend on social media? Do you find some platforms more useful or enjoyable than others?


  1. Great thoughts, Allie! I think it's so important to be intentional with our time. :) That was something I was worried about when I finally caved and got a smart phone a couple of months ago. Thankfully I've been able to avoid wasting time on the phone so far. :) I am definitely an Instagram fan, though! And when I'm stuck standing in line or waiting somewhere, I love having it to look through! :)

  2. I have accounts with most social media spots but I only regularly use Facebook and Instagram, and even Instagram is more when I think about it and have something worth sharing. Most of my facebook time is spent in private groups, not the main wall. I think my introversion comes out in social media the same way as in-person scenarios: trying to control the noise.

  3. This is a really interesting perspective. I know that I absentmindedly check social media when bored or idle (i.e., waiting in a line) but I also know that I am aware that I WANT to know what the heck is going on with others. . . probably at a slightly 'eepies' level, but I tend to not have issues with my usage of social media because I thoroughly enjoy it, if that makes sense?

  4. This is the hardest predicament! I struggle with the same thing! One of the best things I've done for my family and myself is once a month for a day I go on a "fast" from instagram. It's crazy hard to do but so good! I often find myself "instantly" clicking that icon on my phone RIGHT when I unlock my phone! What's that about! I don't want to go without instagram every day, but taking some time to purposely avoid it feels so good!

  5. Oh instagram! How I love you! :)

  6. Oh yeah, it's absolutely nice to have the option to use them, and Insta is the best for browsing quickly! I always think that I don't know what I would do without my iPhone, but it's been good for me, I think, to take a tiny step back and think about how I use it.

  7. What an interesting thought about introversion vs. extroversion! I hardly ever post to my own wall, and likewise spend a lot of time in groups, but I also am aware that I'm using it as an outlet for socializing because I still don't know many people in our new town yet! So if I'm going to use it, I actually /want/ to be socializing instead of just browsing.

  8. Absolutely, if you enjoy it you should keep doing what you're doing! I enjoy the actual interaction WAY more than I enjoy just browsing, so I'm trying to make more of an effort to actual talk with people!

  9. YES! Why does my finger always go to the Facebook icon?! It's a really hard thing to break yourself of, but a fast is a great idea!

  10. it's important to be intentional about social media, but my problem seems to be the opposite end - i feel like i'm not on it enough! i check Facebook only when i get a ding, and update pinterest and goodreads when dinged or.. idk, finish a book or project. i think of blogging more like journaling and keeping up with friends, so i'm pretty consistent about that. OH! and instagram - i'm doing a photo a day (trying anyway!) and so that's more consistent (a big chance since i didn't ever use it last year). where am i going with all this? longest comment ever, but i sometimes feel like i should be on social media more, because i miss out on things friends post - and it makes me feel kinda guilty. that's a problem, right? ah, something to think about...