Social Media, What I learned by taking a break from it!
23rd Oct 2019
Coming out of 2015 and into 2016 was a rough time in my life. Easily the toughest part of my life to date. I found myself feeling rather lonely, even though I was so “connected” to everyone via social media. Friends were showing their support through comments and tags. Without a doubt, I was loved… but it didn’t feel that way. After putting my son to bed, the constant screen time was taking over my life. Long hours of endless scrolling to gain that hit of dopamine and fill the void that I felt within.
I met my partner in April of 2016 and he was such a breath of fresh air. Totally disconnected from any social media, and he was happy and fulfilled with his life. As our relationship flourished, I decided to take that leap and delete my Facebook account. I was never pressured to quit social media, but I wanted a piece of what he had.
I realized I was addicted to Facebook when the withdrawal set in. Wowzer! I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was fine when I was in someone’s company. I’ve never been one of those people who sit on my phone when socializing face to face. But being alone was tough, and for the first few nights, I really did consider getting that account up and running again. Fortunately, I didn’t. I substituted my newfound boredom with TV, arts & crafts, and reading.
After a couple of long weeks, I no longer had the desire for my phone. I was content with my own company and looked forward to quiet evenings with just myself. I felt liberated. My partner noticed the difference when we were together. I was now living in the moment as he was and our relationship grew stronger because of it.
My large pool of friends downsized to a small circle of people who genuinely cared about me. If I wanted to know what was going on with someone, I now had to speak to them directly. All of my important relationships became stronger! Especially the relationship I had with myself.
Over 3 years later and Facebook has exploded even further to have 2.37 billion active users. That’s ⅓ of the world’s population. Now I’m not saying that everyone’s experience with social media is the same as mine, but out of 2 billion, I’m pretty sure that plenty of people out there are feeling just as disconnected by being so connected like I was. There are numerous studies on the effects of social media on mental health and relationships, and that in itself is a whole other topic for another article.
I recently joined Facebook again, purely because of this blog, and I cringed when I did so. I see it as a means to an end and a way to promote The Ginger Mouse. I have most of my friends back and it was fun to see how different they all are. New marriages, relationships, children, career changes… I was astounded by how much I had missed! How can so much have happened in 3 years? Looking at my own life, actually, a whole lot can change in that time.
But we only see what people want us to see. It is not a true reflection of their lives. It’s a facade. A veil over the truth of their lives like a beautiful Instagram filter that hides the raw reality of them. Some of my closest friends look like totally different people on social media and I wondered who had hacked those accounts. My feed has been taken over by advertising, memes, photos of everyone’s children (although that’s always nice to see) and all manner of funny videos involving cute animals and babies. These things will suck you in and before you know it an hour has passed by and you’re watching yet another hilarious cat video.
3 years later and everyone is so sensitive. Everyone is so offended by the tiniest thing that goes against their beliefs or their way of thinking. Something I have learned from coming back to social media is that people aren’t like this in face to face situations. Conversations are civil. Nobody attacks you on a personal level for not agreeing with them, and outrageous death threats are non-existent. Seems to me that anyone with a screen between them and the world develops a pair of giant metaphorical balls that allows them to brazenly show the worst parts of themselves, without any repercussions. Worst of all is what is happening to the male population. Society seems to have developed a serious beef with men, with the words “Toxic masculinity” being used for just about everything.
Coming back online, I have also felt that familiar dopamine hit again. There is a constant mild sense of urgency to check my account activity that I am successfully trying my best to suppress. It’s been just over a month and I already want to delete my account again, because to be quite honest with you, I just don’t see the point of social media anymore.