By: Jennie Scott

A little while ago, I decided to take a leave of absence from social media. You can read all about it here, but the main reason is that I just needed some white space in my life, and social media was filling my mind with unnecessary noise.

I decided that for the month of December, I would stay off Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I did, and it was glorious. 

Photo of Jennie Scott

Image: Jennie Scott

I worried that I might miss it, that I would wonder what was going on in people’s lives and feel like I was missing out. But 99% of the time, I didn’t. I began to feel myself relaxing, not getting caught up in what other people were doing and saying. I wasn’t constantly reaching for my phone, and I wasn’t constantly living the life of a voyeur.

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Here’s what I realised about myself and social media: I don’t need it, and it usually doesn’t make my life better.

So here’s what I’ve been considering as I’ve begun wading back in: why do I use it, and how will I protect myself?

I’ve had to face some hard truths about myself and my choices.

  • Prior to this fast, I was almost addicted. If there was down time, I usually reached for my phone.
  • I usually reached for my phone because I was afraid of being alone with myself.
  • I was afraid of being alone with myself because I didn’t want to face my own thoughts.
  • I didn’t want to face my own thoughts because it meant facing my fears, my insecurities, my failures, and my longings.
  • Facing my fears, insecurities, failures, and longings meant acknowledging that the life I was living wasn’t going like I wanted.

You see the problem? My tendency to reach for my phone was actually much deeper than I thought. It was a wrong cure for an unacknowledged illness.

Here’s something else I realised about my social media life: as often as I coveted what I saw in other people’s feeds, I felt a desire to post something for them to covet in mine.

I bet I’m not alone.

Humans are naturally selfish and self-promoters, so we share what others will be most likely to admire. We want others to think well of us, so we post what makes us look good.

What I’m writing right now doesn’t make me look good, I know. It makes me look selfish and self-centred and weak. Because I am. And my month away from social media made me realise that even more.

I needed to see myself as I really am.

What now, with me and social media? I’m still trying to figure that out in specifics, but here’s what I know for sure: limits. Lots and lots of limits. Time limits and limits on who I follow and limits on why I post. Checking my mental state before checking my feeds and checking my heart after. Living my life instead of thinking how I’ll post it, and capturing photos for memories and not for likes.

I’m going to be intentional, not mindless.

Here’s my advice for anyone who connects to what I’ve written — take some time away. You don’t owe anyone anything when it comes to your online presence. You owe yourself the truth. And sometimes getting to the truth requires getting away from everything else.

Be alone. Be quiet. Allow yourself to hear your own thoughts.

Then, when you hear your own thoughts, allow yourself to change what needs to be changed. No matter what it is.

Article supplied with thanks to Jennie Scott.

About the Author: Jennie is married with two children who shares lessons from her own unexpected journeys and encouragement you might need for yours.