My name is Rachel, and I am addicted to social media. Or at least, I used to be.
I’m a stay-at-home mom to three young children, and I’m also a writer. The best way to get my articles circulating is to promote, promote, and promote some more. Tweet, share, like, post a photo, post a link. When I’m not sharing my own pieces, I like to peruse Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest celeb scandals, political stories, and photos of my friends with their families.
But recently, I noticed that every time I left social media and returned to my real life (you know, the life of dirty dishes, dirty laundry, sibling arguments, and never-ending bills), I just felt sad, disappointed, and bored. Nothing was enough. My mind told me everything I was reading online was an illusion, a fabricated reality meant to entice. But I would too easily forget and begin to believe that everyone else had it all — a more exciting life full of kid-free dinners with girlfriends, picture-perfect family moments, and adorable coordinating outfits (that were never stained).
One day in April, I finally got fed up. Really fed up. Not just with social media, but really with myself. After all, I was the one letting in all the things that were draining me. So I challenged myself to go 30 whole days without logging in to Facebook (my favorite) and Instagram (my new — and growing — addiction).
I’ll be honest, at first I tried to talk myself out of my commitment. What would a month without social media do to my writing career? Would no one buy my books if I wasn’t constantly reminding them of how much they needed to read them? Would anyone care about my articles scheduled to be published that month? Would I become irrelevant?
In the end, I knew that I just had to take a break. So I did it. I logged out, I moved the social media app icons to the last screen on my phone, and I took a deep breath.
… Now what?
Surprisingly, after a day or so without checking in, I began to feel relief. And then contentment. And then joy. Yes, joy.
Suddenly, I was experiencing things without feeling the need to take photos of them to show off to others. I wasn’t going into situations trying to pull an article idea out of them. I was able to see — really see — those things my children would point out to me. I listened to their giggles and their cries for attention, and I responded.
I was also insanely productive with all of those hours I suddenly gained back. Here are just a few of the things I did during my social media break. Things I wouldn’t have normally done, but am so glad I did.:
- Took a nap. (A good, long nap.)
- Painted a door robin’s egg blue.
- Colored in the many adult coloring books I own (but had yet to really use).
- Made “music videos” with my daughters on their IPads.
- Borrowed the first season of Perfect Strangers from the library and watched some episodes. (Hello, my ’90s childhood.)
- Went to a Baby Fair and lunch with a friend.
- Made homemade chocolate chip shortbread.
- Cloud-gazed with my kids.
- Made delicious mojito fruit salad (thanks to aforementioned Pinterest).
- Got cotton-candy-pink highlights.
- Browsed the bookstore with the kids with no “leave time” scheduled.
- Found and admired a robin’s egg shell with my toddler.
- Took my kids’ for ice cream at 11 in the morning … just because.
- Made and played with cloud dough.
- Shopped for and enjoyed my favorite saltwater taffy.
- Read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (for the first time) and Unashamed, the new autobiography by rapper LeCrae.
- Watched Becoming Jane.
- Switched my kids’ bedrooms around.
- Turned the spare bedroom into yoga space.
On day 31, I logged back on to Facebook and Instagram and not surprisingly, found it unchanged. The opinions were just as polarizing, the discussions were just as heated, and the updates were just as predictable. But this time, instead of spending time catatonically scrolling through feeds, I logged back off soon after, looked up, and went back to enjoying the beauty, the opportunities, and those three children of mine, standing right in front of me.