Essay | Lifestyle Experiment: Living Without Social Media For 30 Days
Like any good experiment I started with a hypothesis- that living without social media would be enriching. Like any bad experiment, I had a small sample size of one subject, there was an element of bias, and there were no tangible variables to measure. Totally unscientific! So instead, artistic?
To be clear, I did not nor do I now believe that social media is inherently ‘bad’. I also do not believe that my former use was a big problem for me, however I can see now (and admit) that is had potentially been limiting.
If you read no further than this, I would like to at least encourage readers to take an honest look at the way social media is incorporated in your lives. Does it ever distract you from your work or leisure time? Do you ever give yourself the chance to not fill gaps by reaching for your smartphone? Do you ever waste time (your most precious resource!) watching video after video after video? (Just to get you started).
The thirty day ‘cold turkey’ approach was important to me rather than simply changing my interaction because I wanted time to figure out what I wanted to consume, and formulate how I will post/share moving forwards… and I fancied treating myself!
Side note: If you try this tell your mum otherwise she’ll worry why you ‘disappeared’… mine did anyway! Granted I was the other side of the world at the time, I should have said something, but why she contacted my coach and two teammates before thinking to text me is beyond me and EXACTLY why this experiment was important.
I still had ‘the twitch’ to begin with, reaching for the smartphone in the gaps between stimuli. However this became increasingly rare and was soon replaced with a better alternative such as a moment of stillness/check in with my breath, an awareness of what was going on around me, or initiating a conversation.
I felt like I had more focus. I was multitasking less and was more productive as a result. Previously I have struggled to write without distraction and this is improving now. My perception was also that I had more energy, slept better, and read more but I am taking those observations with a pinch of salt as both the analyst and the subject in this lifestyle experiment.
Moving forwards I am being cautious with what I am taking from social media. Facebook messenger is useful for getting in touch with some people, so that is back. I don’t need the Facebook app but I see good value in keeping a page for ‘events’ and also to follow some pages that interest me although I have not worked out how to filter all of what does not interest me or what sends me down the rabbit hole yet so steering clear for now!
I have Instagram again because I feel like this is where a lot of social media ‘happens’ these days. I follow fewer accounts now which has made it easier to not mindlessly scroll as there is less new content, I am also trying to only follow accounts I take some value from although this is definitely an evolving list.
Of course I have to think about what I plan to ‘add’ to social media too. My goal is to post in a way that shares a message in line with my values and does not add to the ‘noise’. Expect posts that spread positivity, gratitude, and learning. As an athlete I know there is a portion of my following who take value from seeing that journey too, this will take a delicate approach to separate what is interesting and useful from what is generic, ego, or just noise. Feedback (constructive) welcome, if you follow me, I would like that to be because you get some value from what I share.
I have a lot to say… Attempting to filter what is useful and share in a concise way, your time is precious.