Call me an old soul, but does anyone else find it weird these days that the biggest life events in people’s lives (new baby, new job, etc.) are often now found out through social media? No personal text or phone call, no getting together to chat about the new things. Just a notification that you may or may not accidentally pass by when scrolling on your feed. If there’s one thing COVID has shown me, it’s that it’s time to start bringing back the personal contact with friends- both new and old.
I realize that this post will not be for everyone. It’s not to guilt trip, to condemn or to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. I am writing this for those of you who 1) care about why I decided to delete some of my social media lately and/or 2) may want to find some reasons to be inspired to make some changes in your own life as it relates to your online life.
As alluded to in the title of this post, I deleted my personal Instagram last month. It was quite a thrill mixed with some sadness (as expected for all those who are addicted), but ultimately resulted in a feeling of freedom.
Here are some of my reasons.
1. I decided that, for this season, I don’t really need or want to connect with every person I’ve ever met in my past. There is a lot of beauty in that and connection to be gained, so no judgment at all for those of you who do want to stay connected! For me, it was just a personal choice where I felt that it was time to symbolically (and literally) “let the past be the past.”
2. I want time for my mind to breathe. Social media has the potential to bring so much good, but also so much clutter and extra noise into my life that I don’t need. As we’ve all experienced to some degree, social media has a way of tempting us to overspend our time unnecessarily scrolling. I knew it was time to not be so tied up emotionally and mentally with those who I don’t even see on a regular basis.
3. I was spending too much time online and not enough time in the physical presence of my life. By deleting social media, I have been able to focus on the beautiful community and people I do have here right in front of me, and make new friendships as well. I’m able to be more present and intentional. I even find that I tend to think more about my neighbors, my friends and family on a daily basis and try to use my time to find ways to bless them and care for them better.
4. I decided that I want my online presence to be what Instagram was originally used for: art. I remember when Instagram first started and its primary goal was to share who you are with the world and to express yourself (and your interests) through photography. I now find that it has become a commercial hub; practically everyone is using Instagram to sell themselves or a product. Again, I’m not knocking the ways that Instagram has morphed, because I have also benefitted from and found amazing artisans through social media. My point is that for me personally, I decided that I want my life to be simple. I want to be able to share my love of art for art’s sake, which is why I chose to delete my personal social media but keep my food photography account @you.and.me.and.tea.
All that to say, I think I’ve found a new mantra:
Know why you do what you do.
It’s too easy these days to have extra noise, stress and pressure that we don’t even realize is there. It’s too easy to be unengaged with life in person because we think we will be more fulfilled with life online. And it’s too easy to let choices happen to us rather than making deliberate steps towards the amazing life we wish we could be living.
If you’re thinking about deleting social media
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you do:
- What do I use social media for? What do I like about it and what do I not like about it?
- Why do I want to delete it instead of keep it? What’s my why?
- Who is my support community in “real” life? How do I plan to invest in them more now that my “big events” aren’t broadcasted to everyone on FB/instagram? How am I still going to connect with people I’ve met online in other ways?
- Is my social media break short-term or permanent? Do I want to de-activate it or delete my account all together for good?
- What do I need to do before I delete my account for good?
If you want to delete social media but haven’t yet
Here’s what to do before deleting your account for good:
- Download all photos and videos on your Facebook that are important to you, or screenshot any photos you want and don’t have saved on your instagram. You will not get them back if you delete your account, and regardless, those pictures permanently become the property of Facebook (super crazy; that’s for another conversation).
- Check your linked apps. For any apps that may be linked to your Facebook such as Spotify, Pinterest, etc., make sure your log-in is free-standing and has its own username + password instead of being linked to Facebook (Of course, you can always link it to your Google account if you don’t like remembering passwords)
- Double check any loose ends. That means any important messages you forgot to respond to, any work or family related things, or any phone numbers or memos that you need to save.
- Consider telling your family and loved ones about your choice to delete social media. That way they know that if there is a big life event that happens, they can tell you in person rather than assuming that you will read it on Facebook.
If you don’t want to delete social media but still want to simplify your life a little
- Take a social media break. Deactivate it for a little while to clear your head and your heart, without the risk and hassle of having to download and save everything you’ll never get back again.
- Set a timer on your apps to limit how much time you spend on them. It’s too common to intend for a 15-minute “check up” on friends’ lives, only to realize that 2 hours later you bought a new pair of shoes, watched all your friends’ stories twice-through, found an account having to do with your personal enneagram number and then you ended up on a page showing you cute pictures of your favorite animals.
- Start to practice mindful thinking. Instead of letting time pass by and resorting to your phone, remember that it’s okay to choose to just be bored. It’s okay to just sit there for a while. It’s okay to have to get creative with your time and your hobbies. And it’s actually a good thing to grow your imagination (like when you were a kid) and to deliberately decide what you want and don’t want out of life.
All this to say, I wrote this with the hopes that you are living your best life and thriving even in the midst of hardships, letdowns, and (COVID) shutdowns. Don’t be afraid to make drastic changes to become the person you want to be.