How much time are you willing to give to social media?

Unshackling from social media conditioning

A woman walking in sunshine with an orange opaque scarf flowing in the wind.
Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash

There is a shift happening on social media. There is a shift happening in our society.

We are waking up to the harm caused by social media conditioning. We are no longer numb to its effects on us. We are starting to question our own behaviours around it. We are looking for different approaches. We are seeking out people who have figured out a different approach.

We no longer want the mindless scrolling and tapping. We no longer want to contribute for the sake of validation and attention. The novelty of being connected 24/7 is wearing off. We want our mundanity back. We want our attention back. We want our humanity back.

So where does that leave social media? Is there even a need for it? Do we need to be on it to live a fulfilling, connection-driven life?

The answers to these questions are personal and not straightforward. They're as complex as we as individuals are. We need to honour that and find a path that suits our values and beliefs.

“To reestablish control, we need to move beyond tweaks and instead rebuild our relationship with technology from scratch, using our deeply held values as a foundation.”
-Cal Newport-

I'm currently listening to Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. Cal calls digital minimalism a “philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

It is the missing out bit that so many of us stumble on. We are taught to operate from a place of scarcity. Fear of missing out on what our friends are up to. Fear of being forgotten or irrelevant if we don't show up on social. Fear of not reaching out to enough people to make our businesses viable. These are all based on scarcity. And for so long we went along with it. We didn't question how being constantly reachable and available made us feel.

I will tell you how it made me feel: NOT ENOUGH!

I felt trapped. I felt like I needed to do all the cool things everyone else was doing in order to validate my own existence, in order to be seen as a cool human being. And it all stemmed from my ego who was heavily bruised from her childhood bullying, from never fitting in, from never being the popular kid with all the cool friends.

I never once questioned how invalidating it all was. I kept riding one high after another. Each like, each comment, each story response gave me that boost my ego so wanted. But deep down I was still the lost girl who felt like she was not enough, not accepted. So she kept showing up, embellishing parts of her she thought were likable. Her ego soaked up all the hearts and fire emojis. Until the lie she was building came crumbling down. She was done with her own bullshit.

I've spent the last year slowly deconditioning myself from all the bullshit. I've had multiple social media detoxes, but every time I come back I seem to fall for the same old traps, just a bit more aware of them with each return.

I've arrived at a place where I am no longer willing to accept my own bullshit. I'm done with mindless scrolling, mindless double-tapping, and skimming through stories.

I've started showing up a little differently, demanding more of myself: more honesty, wholeheartedness, intention, more mindfulness. And the results so far have been more deep and joyful connections. I've purged my following list which means my feed is less cluttered and I get to see posts from people I actually want to see on my feed.

I've also started to question my need to show up at all. It is still very much in progress. There are relapses to old ways, old beliefs. But they are slowly becoming far and wider apart.

There is also a different, deeper niggle that is starting to surface. A niggle I am not quite ready to share publicly yet. It is a fresh wound that needs a bit of care before it is ready to be placed out there. This is another thing I am slowly learning - the timing of sharing, and the need to share all at once.

Whilst I'm pondering on that niggle that is surfacing, I am also asking myself these two questions:

1. How much of my time am I willing to give to social media?⁠

2. What do I want out of that time?

These are important questions that need time to simmer. And I am sure they are questions I keep returning to time and time again.

We are ever-evolving beings and that's how it should be. Life is not a one-and-done deal. It meanders. It goes up and down. We're not one-and-done beings. As we meander through life, we morph with the ebbs and flows of it all. We learn and relearn. We polish and repolish. And that's the beauty of it - we don't have to remain stagnant. In fact, stagnation is a slow death.

To truly live a life that's yours, we need to keep stretching ourselves. It all starts with curiosity - for the status quo and for our own behaviors and our individual beliefs and values.

UPDATE: That little niggle I mention in the above article was the niggle that had been slowly growing in my soul for the better part of a year - to leave or not to leave social media. What I realised under a Full Moon was that I was no longer willing to spend any of my time on social media. I realised that the time I spent on it, or thinking about it, was no longer serving me.

Therefore, there's a third question I would like to add to it.

3. Do I need to be on social media at all?

The answer to that question for me was a resounding no. It is a journey I will be talking about more as I am slowly processing through it all.