I quit social media for 3 months and it’s weird being back

2020 has been a WILD, overwhelming year of natural disaster, a global pandemic and a huge anti-racism movement. I think we’ve all felt overwhelmed by the news and social media lately but I genuinely believe we were overwhelmed by it all BEFORE the entire world shut down. We our led to believe that in times of great turmoil human kind stands together but all I see is more divide and more hatred towards each other.

Hatred, even of meanness contorts the features. Anger, even against injustice makes the voice hoarse. O, we who wanted to prepare the grounds of friendship could not ourselves be friendly– Bertolt Brecht, To Those Born Later.

I was tired, so tired, of individuals and companies sharing the BLM movement for a few likes, to be involved in the conversation and to build their own reputation to sell more products to consumers. A clothing label that pays their workers 2cents per day is really going to jump on a human rights movement and say they stand behind it? It gives me second hand embarrassment on a scale I have never felt before.

But it wasn’t just the hatred, it wasn’t just the obvious marketing that came out of this (never let a crisis go to waste!) it was the OPINIONS of everyone spewing information into the void. You’re wrong because I am right let’s battle it out over the internet and think we have made a difference.

Don’t get me wrong, people can be wrong. BUT we NEED to disagree with each other, we NEED people to voice their opinions (even if they are hateful) because they are valid AND we can find the people who are being racist, sexist, discriminate when they speak up about it and we can talk about why they have that opinion in a civil manner. If we don’t have that we cannot find these people and have a conversation with them. I am not interested in having online conversations anymore, it leads to petty attacks and useless arguments that go absolutely no where. It would be a completely different conversation if it were had face to face.

We have a tendency to shy away from being challenged and we invest our emotions into our opinion instead of looking at factual evidence. Climate change is a PRIME example of how opinion overrides facts.

I’m angry. I’m angry because people are so mean to each other, I’m angry because Governments don’t listen and I’m angry because people talk about being controlled while being addicted to social media… Real control is when you don’t realise it’s happening.

I deleted Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, everything. And I got really bored which made me hyper aware of how much time I truly had to read again, to write my novel, to finish my novel, to paint, to garden, to journal. My god so much endless time! Going for a walk without capturing the sunset, seeing a beautiful flower and just remembering it.

I went out with my friends a few times and their phones were out when they were bored, photos were taken for the gram, fingers were scrolling lazily along the feed mid conversation with someone else. For the first time I could really see it, really, really see the addiction. It’s a drug, a hit of dophemine when someone likes your shitty photo or comments something about how good you look. It feels GOOD to feel shit about yourself when you see someone else travelling, fit, healthy, hashtag living their best life, showing off their material goods, new cars and toys (all to go to trash one day by the way).

And it’s just…weird isn’t it? We’re all depressed and stressed, under-confident and insecure AND yet we continue to use the one drug that causes a rush of negative emotions to flow freely through our body, our minds. WE share news articles without even reading them properly or checking the source. We share opinions like their facts and expect no one to question or criticize us because our truth is tied to our emotions, our value system and we will defend it until the very end of time. The ability to listen to an opposing opinion doesn’t exist, instead, we’re blocked, deleted, bitched about and erased. Then our circle of friends just validate each others opinions over and over again creating a room full of people who never, ever challenge each other.

So why did I download all the apps again and go on social media again? Well, truthfully, I felt like I was missing out on my friends lives, they were sharing achievements I had no idea about because they didn’t tell me personally. My closest friends, our closest friends announce pregnancies, engagements, weddings on social media as if it’s nothing and who cares about sharing it personally when I get 500 likes and ten thousand congrats comments instead.
But I was missing out because this is our world now, this is how we communicate with each other. The second reason I came back was because I missed sharing my creativity, there’s something deep in an artists soul that requires your work to be noticed, to be validated and acknowledged and when I wrote my poems, created my art the need to share it made my palms itch with excitement.

The third and final reason I came back is because I wrote a novel and I want people to see it, buy it, read it and none of that is really possible without sharing it and talking about it. And this is where social media sings because artists, musicians, writers, authors, business owners have THRIVED in this space and are actually living their dreams and none of that would have been possible without social media.

So now that I’m back it’s been extremely important for me to keep the strong habits I have created during my break:
– No phone (or tech) in the bedroom
– Phone is off at 7pm and not turned on again until 9am or sometimes even later
– No notifications on my social media, none of them, I just check them all at 5pm for 20minutes and that’s it.
– No scrolling endlessly through the feed of Instagram.
– I unfollowed people who expressed a culture of vulgarity, materialism and really questioned why I was following these people (a lot of whom I had never met before or had a conversation with)
– Sharing things that spark joy to Instagram (for some reason this really helps mentally) and connecting with people who write books, read and enjoy the small, simple, elegant elements of life.

These might seem so small and stupid but they really work. I have formed better habits like reading a book every single night in bed (people say they don’t have time to read, pffffff, get off Facebook Karen. You read news articles and about other peoples lives every single day). I just feel so motivated and happy because it doesn’t control me anymore, I am in control of when I go on it and how much I use it.
I am in control, are you?

Big love,
Haley

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