Tips & Tricks

Breaking the Habit: When Social Media Causes Us To Live Other Lives

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Image: Elitedaily.com

Wake up. Check email. Check Facebook. Check Instagram. What did I miss? Where did my friends go last night? Looks like they had fun without me. High school nemesis just got married. Oh and dorky girl from fifth grade math just had her second baby. How many new followers can I get today with this #tbt? He never texted me back but he liked all of these random photos 40 minutes ago?!

I was done.

It took me a while to realize it but I found myself turning on my phone and diving into other peoples lives. I would find myself going down a dark black hole of internet envy. Whenever I opened my internet browser I would immediately start typing the word “facebook”. It was subconscious and it was scary. When I got there, I would wonder why all of these people had (and were doing) the things I wanted. I was making myself jealous as I lay in bed each morning starting my day in other people’s worlds. I was comparing my life constantly to that of others and using the knowledge I had through social media to come up with grand disillusions as to how my life SHOULD be. Meanwhile I wasn’t living to it’s full potential.

I began to realize how much time and love I could give to myself if I stopped living on social media and started to embrace my own story. So I took a simple pledge. No facebook, no instagram and no twitter, no social media for one week. Who knew deleting apps would be so hard (and so sad to have to admit that). But I did it and here’s what happened.

  1. I missed out on a lot and I LOVED it. For once in my life I didn’t care about fomo. I was proud to say I hadn’t seen that cute puppy video or the pictures from so and so’s wedding. I avoided plenty of “Game of Thrones” spoilers and removed myself from the culture of the social media void. And it felt good to tell people I was busy living my life rather then filling my time with Amy Schumers new viral vagina video. I cut out the crap and inserted ME time.
  2. I got out of bed faster. When my alarm went off in the morning I got right out of bed. Okay I might have checked an email or two, but still that pertains to MY life and not anyone else’s. I started my day quicker, and in a better mood not drowning myself in the existence of others before I went and had mine. I saved myself an extra twenty minutes each morning to clean or read a book or make myself breakfast. And it felt fucking great.
  3. I sat alone, with my thoughts, instead of other peoples. I went to dinner with my boyfriend and when he got up to go to the bathroom I found myself pawing for my phone, again subconsciously. Once I realized, I dropped my phone back in my bag and I sat, quietly. I watched the other people in the restaurant. I noticed people having a good time, in their own lives, and here I was experiencing it with them. I felt comfortable just looking like I was alone for a few minutes and it was wonderful and freeing to not have to use Facebook and instagram as a friend or a crutch for when I was alone. I was with me when I was alone instead. I was PRESENT.
  4. I became more creative. A story I had been developing for almost a year finally made sense to me. Instead of taking the time to scan my newsfeed, I was taking the time to write notes or just think about the characters and plot. I had a breakthrough. I finally found the missing piece that I needed to make the story come to life and actually began turning it out on paper. I had a new found excitement for the project it gave me hope and brought me closer to my craft.
  5. I stopped feeling anxious. I stopped worrying about things that were so stupid before. I didn’t care about comments on my instagram, gaining new followers, who liked who’s photo. It became so trivial. For so long I would invest time into these things that seemed important to me. I realized what was a priority in my life and I stopped caring about the presence I had on social media. I stopped worrying about how I looked to everyone via my Facebook and Instagram page and I started caring about being a better real life friend, girlfriend, daughter, writer, human being.

So a week later I will admit something. Although I brought back my instagram app I could have lived happily ever after without it. Facebook was much more difficult. I admit that I did have to go on once to send a message to someone that was necessary and my only form of communication with them. I couldn’t help myself but see a picture that my friend had tagged of me and I did feel like I was missing out on job opportunities or other social experiences that could have happened in my life. But this lesson taught me exactly what we should be using Facebook and social media for, to enhance our own lives, and not live through the black mirror of others.

I realized how important my time with myself was and how hard I was on myself for comparing what I didn’t have to what others did. I started to become sensitive to other peoples overuse of social media, and although it upset me, I learned that many people do use it to better themselves and their community. One thing is certain, I will use Facebook much less now that I feel I have broken the uncontrollable habit of typing in the url anytime I open a web browser. I have noticed myself caring less about that little newsfeed and instead only use it to find opportunities that will better my own life.

I challenge you all to take a week off of social media and reconnect with the people who are really present in your life, to reconnect with yourself, your roots and what truly makes you happy. Live your life in three dimensions. Things are much better outside of the box.

By: Lori Gottlieb

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