Taking a break from social media can be surprisingly difficult to do.
And it may seem a counter-intuitive thing to do, coming from someone who runs a business on social media platforms! But I thought this was an important topic as social media can have very a negative impact on us – if we allow it to.
As I write this, I have just returned from a wonderful ten day break in Menorca. For those of you who haven’t been, I highly recommend it. It is a beautiful Spanish island which, in June, is still very green and verdant after their temperate, and often wet, winter. My husband and I spent long hours kayaking, sunbathing, swimming, walking, exploring and generally relaxing and reconnecting with each other, which was very welcome after a busy stretch of work. I had expected more of a “sleepy” attitude to all things internet and so I was surprised to find that most of the island is covered by 4G signal and our AirBnB home had very fast Wifi!
So…it was quite hard to escape it! And, like most of us do, I posted some pics and videos of what we got up to on our adventures; kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling etc… I guess it is nice to share these events, but at the same time, something inside me wonders whether I should, whether it is important, or even if anyone actually cares what I am doing, or if I should care whether they care?! I try not to post whole albums of pics – I just save those for the poor family members who have to sit through them like the old days when we sat obligingly through slides shown on the projector! (What do you mean you have no idea what I’m talking about?!!)
These days it is so easy to upload our special moments onto any number of social media platforms to share with friends and family. But does that make us do it more often – and even more importantly, does it mean we are missing the main event ourselves in our efforts to “be seen” doing these things. I include myself in this as I am just as “guilty” as anyone else of getting sucked into the social media vacuum.
And this begs the question as to whether we should indeed feel “guilty” for posting regularly, and especially during our personal downtime, or whether this is so the norm now that to NOT post would be, well, rude?!
I think the answer lies in how difficult you would actually find it to step away from the internet and how it would make you feel to do it. Disconnected? Unvalidated? Lost? Free? There are no right answers to this of course, but certainly they can provide a good insight into how social media impacts your life, which can help you decide whether a break from it might be just the thing for a week or so.
Social media affects how we perceive ourselves and can lead to comparing ourselves to stereotypes and feeling inadequate.
Studies show that:
- 60% felt it negatively impacted their self-esteem
- 50% had relationship struggles as a result of social media
- 80% were much more easily deceived
We seek validation of our own lives and can lose sight of what is actually real, and normal, which is actually pretty scary.
Situations out on the street, experienced in real life, gives you time to process our thoughts and emotions, but on social media this is amplified hundreds of times over, happening in right in your face in a constant bombardment of information, which you don’t have time to properly process. When you post something on social media, you are waiting for a response and validation. Did anyone “like” your post? Did they comment or share it? These are all little pokes at your ego and self-esteem that can actually cause more harm than good.
Evidence suggests that our dopamine levels are so high with social media activity, that they can get “burn out”, and we then become de-sensitised to real life. Our cortisol levels can also be constantly raised because social media can be very stressful – we may receive “unlikes” or nothing at all in response to our post, which can feel disheartening at best and downright upsetting at times.
My previous holidays have had large clumps of time when there simply wasn’t any internet access, and actually this was brilliant, as it completely excuses you from having to partake (if we need an excuse) in any screen time. It can feel strange initially because we don’t realise actually how much time we spend staring at a screen.
Of course there are good sides to social media – not least when you re-discover long-lost friendships, and can connect with family overseas. And, as I mentioned above, like many others I rely on social media to get my business message across, to reach out and help people and hopefully provide inspiration. Facebook groups sharing their common experiences can be extremely beneficial and helpful, Twitter can provide links to interesting articles you might not otherwise see, Instagram allows us the opportunity to show ourselves off doing all sorts of crazy things!
As always, it is about finding the right balance.
Taking a break from social media for a week can be very liberating – and very enlightening as we can see how dependent on it we truly are. We are so engaged in the digital world on a daily basis that it feels hard to disengage – even for a short period of time.
And there is something so wonderful in just being in the moment and enjoying what life has to offer, without feeling the urge to put it on display. Try it and see for yourself!
What are YOUR experiences of stepping away from social media? Do you find it easy or difficult?
(And if you choose not to “comment” or “like” I will try hard not to take it personally!!)