Honestly, it’s so anti-climactic. I thought for sure that taking a month-long break from social media would lead to some sort of refreshed world perspective or at least a few stories of how I found myself being really “in the moment” with my kids because I had freed myself from the shackles of my cell phone. Nope. No revelations. I just went offline and missed my friends and then got lazy and stopped taking pictures of my kids because, as it turns out, if I can’t Instagram it I’m probably not going to bother with getting my phone out to capture it. So what did we do in March? Oh, about a thousand little things that I would have liked to have saved but have now forgotten. Plus, a few big moments where I actually remembered to pull out my camera:
Yep, we went to Hawaii and Eva turned six and we had a few random outings. Not pictured: Eva lost her first tooth, Calvin started reading his first chapter book, Felix got his four month shots, and we started aggressively house hunting. We even put in an offer on two homes with no luck (what is up with this housing market??) but I don’t have photos to show you because no Instagram = no motivation.
Don’t get me wrong – I completely agree that I don’t need to sit around with my face in my phone all day. However, I think taking a month long break was an attempt at solving a problem that wasn’t there. I’ve got my phone out to record things most of the time, not to watch, surf, or play. In fact, when I was looking at what people did during their social media breaks a lot of people suggested getting rid of all games and media apps but I didn’t have any except for Candy Crush and I hadn’t opened that one since before Felix was born. The only apps I use daily that aren’t photo storage or photo editing apps are Facebook and Instagram because that’s where my friends are. So at the end of the day, my break from social media was actually a break from my social circle. Like, my real social circle.
I’d love to tell you that I used my free time to call my friends instead of stalking them online but my time wasn’t any more free just because I wasn’t taking/sharing photos and also calling people is a crap ton of work when you aren’t a teenager. Nope, didn’t call more people than usual. Didn’t write letters. Didn’t walk around my neighborhood to introduce myself to the neighbors. I went all hermit crab and didn’t see anyone. Totally healthy like that.
Now, being fair, I did cheat a little because I had two events that required Instagram posts and I did blog about going to see Disney on Ice. So maybe I didn’t have the cleansing “all in” social media break that would have made all the difference. But I can easily name 6 reasons why social media breaks are stupid when you do them like I did them:
1 – A month is a completely arbitrary amount of time to decide to not communicate with people unless you have some specific project that requires all of your attention during your timeline. I didn’t and ultimately only stuck to my original plan out of sheer stubbornness even though I knew a week into it that it probably wasn’t going to be worth it.
2 – Unless you are likely to step up and communicate in some other form beyond social media, be aware that you are actually walking in to a break from your friends, family, support network, and general news source.
3 – Although you will see fewer ads away from social media, you will not be in an ad vacuum and you’ll probably still find ways to spend your money. I fell into an HGTV spiral while we were traveling because we don’t have TV at home and all the shows were new and shiny and now I’m going to need a million glass tiles and a lot of reclaimed wood flooring.
4 – If you think you’ll remember stuff if you don’t Instagram it, you won’t. Especially if you have multiple children. You know that whole “Instagram or it didn’t happen” joke? It’s funny because it’s true.
5 – If you’re spending too much time on social media doing mindless things like scrolling, taking quizzes, watching Buzzfeed videos, etc., you won’t necessarily fill that time up with meaningful conversations and ivy league college lectures. When my brain needs a break, it takes a break. That means I read more trashy novels this month, I wandered a little more slowly through the aisles at Target, and I rediscovered Lady Gaga. Oh, and did I mention HGTV?
6 – I’m not more “authentic” offline. I didn’t change what I did with my kids or what I wore everyday or what we ate for dinner, etc. For some reason, I thought not sharing anything online would be relaxing but it turns out that I’m not as fake as I thought I was. The only thing that changed was the fact that I took one-tenth of the photos this month I normally would have – not because I was hiding something but because it didn’t occur to me to capture it.
I will say that I didn’t miss the political scuffles that have taken over Facebook and I might have gone to sleep earlier because I wasn’t doing my nightly Instagram scroll. So the exercise wasn’t completely devoid of benefit BUT it’s just not for me since things didn’t get artificial and anti-social until I took social media OUT. I guess I’ll have to find some other way to get enlightened!