My One Month Social Media Detox

social media diet

For all the years that we have known each other, DorkyDad and I have done a January detox. It is usually much needed. Like most people, we fill our cupboards even fuller than usual over the Christmas holidays, with booze, biscuits and other unnecessaries.

Come the New Year, our bodies are practically begging us for a break. So we both give up alcohol for the month, step up our exercise regimes, and cut back as far as we can on carbs and candy.

After a grumpy, jumpy first week, we tend to find that we are sleeping much better, feeling more clear-headed and starting to lose our little festive potbellies. We finish the month feeling refreshed and energetic, ready to face the rest of the year.

We are doing all that again this January, but two weeks in I don’t feel like it is enough. My body is definitely feeling much better. But my brain? Meh. Not so much. It still feels overloaded. I am not in the calm and relaxed place that I should be. I am craving peace, and space, and silence.

Over the last week or two, the idea of a retreat has become very appealing. I have been dreaming of some hilltop villa where you get hauled out of bed at sunrise to do yoga on the beach. Berries and nuts for breakfast, fresh air, early nights… I’ve been longing for that simplicity of living that gives the important stuff – feelings and sensations – more clarity and colour.

But honestly, I don’t think I need that retreat. I don’t think I need a Mindfulness App or a meditation manual. I think the peace and space is already all around me, and I just need to allow it in.

So I’ve decided that in addition to the physical detox I’m going to do a mental one too. I’m going on a month long social media detox.

No Facebook.

No Twitter.

No Pinterest.

No LinkedIn.

No blogging.

The only online activity I’m going to allow myself is email to my personal address.

Eeek.

2013 was a momentous year for us and without the love and support of our friends and family, many of whom we are mainly in touch with online, our move would have been much harder.

Part of the joy of new experiences is sharing them with people you care about, and social media has allowed me to do that. I have loved blogging about Tasmania, and uploading photos of all our activities. Twitter has been an incredible source of local information. But in the last few weeks I’ve been wondering if I’ve come to rely a little too much on that validation that comes in electronic form – the blog comments, the Facebook likes, the retweets…

It is also inevitable that starting something new, as we have done, means letting go of some old people and places and saying goodbye. We – I – have been so caught up in the excitement of our new life that I haven’t been as smart as I should have been at dealing with that. But I know myself well enough to realise that I am carrying around some little blue bubbles of sadness inside me that need some attention, and the fewer distractions there are during that process the better.

I want to feel a bit less busy. I want to get back to basics in my head in the same way that I’m doing for my body. I want to spend more time reading, writing, listening to music, walking, sitting in my garden, taking photos, trying new recipes… there are dozens of ways of spending time that would be more productive than goofing around on the internet.

I know already that it’s going to be SO HARD. Facebook is the first thing I check every morning while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil. The time difference means that as I’m starting my day, most friends are coming to the end of theirs, and I love that ten minutes scrolling through my newsfeed and catching up on their news. It helps me feel closer, and if I’m ever feeling a little homesick there is nothing more comforting than seeing people share the mundane details of their day.

Facebook has also become the place where my friends share their big news. Engagements, weddings, pregnancies, births… all the rich stuff of life is announced there before anywhere else. And it’s where some of the best informed and most intelligent political debate I’ve seen recently has been – just folk chatting with each other in one thread or another – and often making more sense than opinion pieces and commentary in more traditional media.

So I know I will miss that.

But there’s also an awful lot of rubbish. Some of it – adverts, kitten pictures, Candy Crush invites – is stuff that you scroll through without even pausing. Some of it is clickbait – timewasting links that you can’t help yourself from checking out.

I won’t miss that unnecessary white noise in my life at all.

Here is what I know. Some of my very closest friends don’t use social media at all, and we still find ways to keep in touch. We send lengthy emails, we exchange photos on WhatsApp and we even – shock, horror – write each other letters that take a week or two to arrive. Our friendships have endured despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that we are not in touch every single day.

So I suppose I am hoping for two things from the experience.

The first is better, more intentional relationships, where I have to actively contact the people I care about, and say something substantial rather than just Liking a photo of their morning cuppa.

The second is that I’d like to remind myself how to just enjoy an experience in itself, without rushing to share an update about it. I suspect the writer in me is so engrained that I’ll continue to record the little details of our days, but I’ll be reaching for my notebook rather than my phone, which is no bad thing.

I hope you’ll bear with me, during this social media detox. I hope you’re interested enough to pop back in a month or so, to see how it has gone. And I hope you don’t do anything too interesting while I’m offline.

(Or if you do, drop me an email!)

See you on February 15th.

xx

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28 responses

  1. I’ve been thinking along similar lines, though given I’ve just started a new linky I would be being a little disingenuous to disappear. But I am streamlining, it’s so easy for all this delicious online stuff to become a main course in life, when actually it should be a side dish. Have a happy detox x

  2. Wow! 24 hours is the most I’ve ever done.I know I could fill the time easily enough, I know I certainly been bored.I do spend less time online at the weekends but I do think I could do better and spend my time more wisely.Have fun and I’ll pop over an e-mail in a week to see how you’re doing.

  3. Such a good idea! I certainly try and use it less at the moment and I find that the odd weekend without it does me the world of good and it is lovely then to go back to it on a Monday and know that I have spent the weekend focussing on my family, which is far more important. Good luck and enjoy xx

  4. Excellent idea, one I would love to complete too but I keep getting sucked back in.
    Maybe after the Team Honk cycle ride on the 25th I can have a proper go
    Enjoy your time, can’t wait to see what you get up to

  5. Not sure I can go cold turkey but this month I’m massively cutting back and also stopping myself from lying in bed doing social media on my phone. As you say my mind needs a break too. I’ll miss you over this next month, but I will try to email, or if you’re very lucky even write a proper snail mail letter!

  6. You’ll love it I’m sure and I suspect it’ll be a lot easier than you might at first think. I had a week off everything over Christmas and honestly afterwards I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back at all I felt so chilled out :)

    Let in the zen sweet cheeks and enjoy x

  7. Good on you :-)
    I packed in my FB a few years ago and it was definitely one of my smarter moves. The ability of social media to swallow vast chunks of precious time in a totally non-productive way is truly scary…

  8. Wow, good for you! You’re making me think I should try this. I’m not sure that I could manage a whole month though. I did take a week off when we were on a cruise (I had no choice though!) and I found that I actually missed very little.

  9. I know I’m very guilty of using social media for “ostriching” – it’s a virtual desert of sand into which I stick my head when I want to block out whatever bit of the outside world is bothering me. That said, I have always had a no social media/computer in bed policy and after too many years of being woken by the work blackberry in the middle of night, all phones are banished to the kitchen every night. Small steps – there are some bits of my world I’m not ready to deal with yet

  10. I’m horrified and envious in equal measure. It causes me so much stress trying to keep up, yet on the other hand I worry that I’d fidget and lapse into other bad habits. I will wait to see your summary next month. I do hope it goes really well for you, maybe it will inspire me!

  11. So thought-provoking, Ruth. I could ditch everything but Instagram. That would be a huge challenge. I would love to meet you next week if that suits. Let’s make this happen! J x

  12. This is such a thought provoking post. I lose so much time being online and yet bemoan the fact that I have so little time in which to get anything done! I’m not sure a detox is for me right at this moment, but certainly being more diligent about when and where I use it, and switching off earlier in the evening so I actually get decent sleep is something I need to focus on! I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful month and will be looking forward to hearing about the benefits – assuming you come back online! Good luck with it.

  13. Two or three times a year, hubby and I go camping; the best part about it, there is no-wifi, thus no laptop, no cell phone, zero technology. After a few days in the bush, I feel wonderful.

  14. Pingback: My One Month Social Media Detox

  15. I’ve been trying to have an internet-free day once a week for about the last year. I can’t say I’ve always managed it, but when I have it’s a really good experience. G and I have also at different times had a no-internet-after-7pm rule – also good when we’ve sustained it. And then there’s the hiding of his ipad, which came out of a nearly-internet-free holiday we had for two weeks in August, which G called “a journey into time”. When we got back he asked me to hide his ipad somewhere and only get it out when he had a specific job to do on it. This has been really successful at reducing anxiety and focusing on the moment. Since Clara arrived (she’s now three and a half weeks old) this has been lifted, but the time feels right to revive it now. However, a month-long detox sounds challenging and I very much look forward to reading about it when you return to blogging. Your blog will be missed in the meantime but judging from the comments your readers support you, including me. Good luck and enjoy it!

  16. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this. I often think life must be so much more peaceful without the variety of ways we’re constantly busy online. Bravo!

  17. Pingback: Project 52, Weeks 3 to 7 « dorkymum

  18. Pingback: My month without social media « dorkymum

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