Lately, I’ve let social networking slide onto the back burner. Not consciously. Between work and holidays, personal time has simply become an elusive commodity. Yet as Christmas passes and the world gradually slows down, I’ve come to agree with many studies and articles stating social media has a distinct impact on our lives.
Just how much of life have we been missing?
Now, this isn’t to say social networking sites are bad. However, like most indulgences, it’s best experienced in moderation. We as humans are prone to addictive behaviors. For myself, it’s coffee, social media, and work. Lately, I’ve been striving to create a better balance in life, starting with online interactions.
Here is what I’ve discovered thus far:
1) You’re capable of doing more.
How many hours, days, even years have you lost to the rabbit holes of social media? Do you think that sounds a bit dramatic? Calculate the time you spend on Facebook in one day and multiply it by a week, a month, then a year. If you consider how much time you’ve invested online that could have been spent pursuing your life goals, the truth may be hard to swallow.
Instead of browsing my phone during lunch, I read a book. When I get home, I walk by my computer to work on the painting that’s been sitting half-finished for two months now. Chivalry’s Code will still put me in front of a screen more than I’d like to be sometimes, but when you close the web browser and focus only on the page in front of you, the words flow much faster.
Also, I notice I’m not in a hurry all the time.The days often seemed too short before because I wasn’t spending my time wisely. Without the distractions, life is far more manageable.
2) I’m thinking more.
There’s something about Facebook, Twitter, and online media that makes you feel like you’re floating thoughtlessly through the web. I liken it to foggy mornings. Your vision is limited and you feel lethargic. Without these distractions, I either focus on a project, engage in conversation, or I am left with myself to think and contemplate. All of them are wonderful alternatives.
Projects become goals, which I’m meeting at a greater pace.
Conversations pull me into the here and now to experience life, community, and social interaction the way it should be (I think we’re more starved for this than we realize).
Then there’s that time alone with yourself. You find you are either content in silence or you’re terrified. Both are worth exploring. We should never be afraid of being alone with ourselves. In fact, it should be a regular part of our lives, like a spiritual exhale.
I find one of my favorite things is sitting out on the back lanai when everything’s quiet and all you hear is the breeze tickling the palms. You feel the wind caress your cheek while the smell of grass and earth reminds you that you are alive, and you are a part of this place.
Do you ever take time to simply be?
If you haven’t lately, try it. You owe that much to yourself.
3) I’m happier.
Don’t get me wrong. I love seeing what my brother, mother, friend, cousin, and that old buddy I knew in high school are doing. Who doesn’t? We’re curious in nature and the things many of my friends post can be exciting, funny, and inspiring. Especially the creative ones with their quotes, their photographs, and their stories. However, too much of it disengages us.
Why do we spend so much time in the play-by-play of other peoples lives when our own is right in front of us?
I notice there are too many people who worry about what other people are doing. People compare themselves to the portrayal of other people’s lives and think too long and too hard about whether their own lives amount to the same.
Stop it. Just.. really, stop. No matter how much you think Facebook tells you about a person, it will never tell you the whole story. Peoples lives are only truly revealed through actions and intimate conversations where a soul is bared naked and raw.
I promise you those conversations will tell you more than a status or a photo any day of the week. They’re far more powerful, too.
It is said that too much time on social media leads to depression and other mental health issues that impact our body like a mirror.
Step away from it all for awhile. Limit yourself and engage instead in the real and tangible world right in front of you.
I’m daring you to a week long challenge: Try limiting your online presence to 30 minutes a day. Don’t use your phone as an excuse. Set it aside when you get home and ignore it if you must. Replace the moments you spend on apps and online networks with books, hobbies, and the things you “never have time for”. Then blog about it on the eighth day and tag this post so I can see it (I promise to read and respond to every blog that participates!).
Ask yourself, how do I spend my time, and am I spending it wisely?