This started as a very quick scratchpad style note to myself. It wasn’t written with the intention of being a blog post. It was more of a diary of how I’m feeling and why I’m trying to reduce the intrusive social media interactions that I find particularly unhelpful at present. I don’t feel depressed, just pretty exhausted and over-stretched both physically and emotionally. A flurry of are you ok messages and requests for updates mean I’ll post this periodically but I can do that at arms length. I actually quite enjoy blogging/writing which is subtly different to my current relationship with other social media.
I found myself in quite a low place yesterday (Sunday) which although not unheard of (we all have bad days) is pretty unusual. I usually manage to operate within a moderately stable and positive band of mood. However, for around 5 months I’ve been dealing with an undiagnosed bacterial infection which was only recently identified and treated with a moderately hefty course of antibiotics. That wasn’t a pleasant illness and the treatment was pretty rough, albeit, you know it’s doing you good.
In the physical low that brought on, I picked up a chest infection which I’m only just clearing and I am still dealing with the post-viral fatigue that comes with that. Add to that significant work pressures, rushing up and down the M4 to arrange/attend social events and split time between Wiltshire and London and I hit a physical and emotional low.
Recognising this, I need to do less (at least at the moment). I also realised I was doing very little for my own enjoyment and too much that provided the admin, space and organisation for others. Whilst that’s fine in its place, (I enjoy some of it), it shouldn’t leave you struggling to identify what you want to do/enjoy with your time.
Finally, I felt that so much of the social media ‘stuff’ we respond to is Pavlovian rubbish. I’m beginning to feel I’m responding to digital input notifications and servicing profiles semi-automatically and at the expense of most other things. A quick scan through the lists shows a few interesting posts or activity of family/friends I would otherwise miss, but most of Facebook is fluff. Other sites are even less constructive – so time to take a break and step back. See what I’ve forgotten or overlooked in the real world. Hopefully, I can find an equilibrium in which social media can play a constructive part, but not in its present form.
Day 1: (Sunday) Having explained to my other half, a couple of close friends and then wider via (ironically) a Facebook post, I step back from Facebook for a while. The duration is yet to be determined and what I want from the exercise is still forming – but a different balance is probably the best way to describe it.
Day 2: (Monday) I’ve left the app’s on my phone and laptop, but repositioned the icons that launch them to make them less ever-present. I’ve also switched off notifications from Facebook and disabled a couple of other profiles for the time being. Vaughan tells me I should guard against isolating behaviour – he’s correct. However, I’m not convinced that a significant number of the interactions are anything more than the equivalent of working in a social call centre. Lot’s of conversation, but not much interaction and strangely still a solitary activitiy. If that’s not isolation, I’m not sure what it is. So – scale back and diversify.
I’ve switched off most notifications and desktop alerts and although I am free to dip into the book now or at any point, those will now be of my choosing rather than prompted to respond to cyber friends – the modern version of keeping up with the Jones’s
As a result, my phone is certainly quieter. Yet, I still find myself habitually picking up the phone to look at – well nothing. I realise quite how often all of us revert to the quick check of the newsfeed to see what’s going on. I have looked at Facebook twice today and will try to limit today to no more than the same again. A subtle difference is that I’m not posting or responding to posts, I’m just scanning the headline notifications and seeing the type and nature of the post. Is it relevant, meaningful or interesting or just ‘Sammy J bought brocolli’ .. so far a huge amount of the latter. I’m struck by how hard it is to switch off completely. Would it be better to simply delete the app? At the moment I’m content to be an observer. I’ve noticed there is already more time and space – I’m not quite sure what I want to fill it with and I do feel rather disconnected – but the question is disconnected from what?
Day 3: (Tuesday) I’ve been struck by the absence of social media – my phone is now pretty much just that, a phone. I have helpful apps (camera, finances, news and office) but demoted the others and have only ‘checked’ Facebook briefly in the evening and at lunchtime today. I can’t say I’ve missed the habitual viewing and updating. A couple of days of ‘me time’ has been very helpful and Taz has benefitted from the extra walks I’m sure. I’ve identified a couple of books I’ve been wanting to read and have started one in some of the former screen time. I’ve also found I’ve enjoyed the blog update. It’s cathartic in its own right and is useful to document the detoxing social media experiment. I know three of my friends have/are considering the same (thank you for the messages by the way) – it’s helping me find an appropriate use of social media. I suppose it might be useful to one of them too, in which case it’s worth the transparency.
So, for those who expressed an interest – doing ok thank you and happily running in low profile social media mode for the rest of the month (at least). Until the next periodic update.