Thursday, December 24, 2015

Unplugged for the holidays

I feel like I arrived to this Christmas season on fumes. So many distractions and noises were fighting for my mind and attention. Careless words and posts -- and the fickleness -- all over social media haven't helped matters, either, and have grieved me so.

I also noticed something curious: what was being posted on social media wasn't matching the reality of what was happening in the lives of friends, or mine for that matter. Friends and relatives experiencing the most difficult circumstances sometimes put up the most cheerful posts. Granted, many are finding joy in the midst of a hard place. And social media just provides a view into a slice of someone's life. But for some (maybe for all of us, really?), social media seems to mask what is really going on in life. I dunno. Maybe I'm misreading it all.

I decided to unplug from all my social media pages this Christmas season until new year so I can be more intentional about living and also be truly present (with my attention, not just my body) as I do life with family and friends. No quick checks to see the popular story of the day, cute animal video or the best holiday cookie recipe a friend just made. I deleted my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps from my phone.

I'm six days in and so far, it's been...weird. And revealing. The first few days offline, I found myself several times an hour unconsciously sliding to the screen on my phone where those apps used to be. This showed me just how reliant (and addicted?) I was to checking what was going on in the social media world. Like every five minutes. Yeesh.

The world suddenly feels quieter. Initially, that was a tad scary. Honestly, it still is a bit. Not sure why. But I'm learning to be comfortable with my own thoughts. I can think now. I mean, really think and process what's going on inside my own head -- not just consider someone else's thoughts or posts.

This experiment has been good. I'm not as disconnected from people as I thought I would be, thanks to email, phone calls/texts, and wonder of wonders, real, sit-across-from-someone, look-in-their-eyes face time. I'm finding that I don't miss posting about the trivialities of my life (or reading about them in the lives of others). It's beautiful.

I'm not poo-pooing social media as it allows me to stay connected with people whom I otherwise wouldn't be in touch. I also learn and share important news via that medium.

But I'm seriously rethinking the way I do Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I plan on maintaining a social media presence but I'm considering downsizing and simplifying. And maybe not. We'll see what 2016 brings.

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