You know that feeling when your clothes are a bit snug or your love handle has expanded beyond reasonable bounds? Well, that’s the feeling I had about social media last month. I felt bloated with too much information, yet powerless to leave it alone and walk away. My internal compass persistently nudged me to take control of the time that slipped away each day as I mindlessly scrolled through posts and photos, many featuring nonessential details and messages. I needed a long-term plan. What would it be?
Last year about this time, I tried a social media fast. It worked perfectly and felt wonderful as long as I completely abstained, and it got easier the longer I did it. A young mother said she felt so great after her media fast last year, she never went back at all. I applaud her determination. For me, though, it was not a long-term solution. I wasn’t ready to completely shut the door on this vehicle that allows me to share joys and challenges of friends with whom it is the only practical way to communicate, and powerful ideas from people and organizations–such as Big Ocean–which inspire me. Fasting I could do; “dieting” from my online friends and powerful thoughts, not so much.
I felt unhealthy and undisciplined. Having received unmistakable direction from my internal compass, I wanted to act on this impression to change. I determined that my only option was that dreaded word: diet! Not a crash diet with quick results and no hope of permanent change, but a measured sustainable effort that would improve my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. I did some research by asking friends who seemed to have a working social media diet in place and reviewing Elisabeth’s article from last year that left a vivid impression on me concerning this very dilemma. Among her many useful, practical suggestions, I could still remember the phrase, “being intentional.”
The research paid off and I was ready to be intentional rather than mindless. One friend said she removed social media apps from her mobile devices, so she is now forced to make the inconvenient choice to open her computer to satisfy the craving to take “just a few minutes to catch up.” I came up with a diet that seemed promising. Rather than completely removing the apps from my devices, I moved them to the last screen and disabled the option of receiving “suggestions” to open them. This helped immensely so I didn’t fall off the wagon, stopping in the middle of something essential to go in search of some little tidbit that had just been posted. Now I could wait until I chose to have a taste of social media, with clear limits and guidelines. I vowed that I would have a purpose and genuine need to enjoy some social media food. As Elisabeth had suggested, I got online with purpose and refused to get derailed by nonessential information and ideas.
So, how has it worked? Well, it’s been a month and I’ve lost all kinds of weight: pounds of failed resolve, pounds of guilt, and the significant unwanted weight of wasted time and opportunities to do things of greater worth. I’m happier and healthier in body, mind, and spirit. This diet may not be the one for you, but I challenge you to follow your internal compass, do your own research, and find a sustainable diet or program that gives you similar results. Nothing feels as good as getting out from under the weight of mindless media use.