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I can’t believe I almost missed out on six years of my life…
Two months ago, I would have told you, with 150% certainty, that I barely ever use social media. Then I embarked on a social media fast…
I was reading “The Comparison Trap” by Sandra Stanley (which p.s. is amazing). One of the challenges was to give up social media for a day.
“Easy!” I thought cockily and promptly deleted all the apps from my phone.
That day was 547 times longer than any other day I’ve lived.
I kept finding these awkward, empty spaces that I didn’t know what to do with. 5 minutes here, a half hour there, time that normally disappeared into the social media time warp.
The entire day, My emotions vacillated between an anxious “I think I’m forgetting to do something” and a luxurious peace.
What is a social media fast?
Essentially, you are choosing to stay away from all social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) for a set period of time. Even though Pinterest is technically a search engine, I included it in my fast because it sucks me in every single time I open it.
A fast doesn’t have to be a give up everything cold turkey experience. Zen Habits has some great ideas for a less intense social media fast.
If you want more detailed tips on how to do a social media fast, sign up for your free guide at the end of this post.
The truth about social media
According to Social Media Today, the average person spends almost two hours a day perusing social media. Over the course of your life, that will equal almost 6 years.
If you are a visual learner, you have to check out these crazy infographics. I promise you will never look at your phone the same way again.
Shocked and disgusted by how affected I was by my one-day social media fast, I decided to push myself and stay offline for the rest of the week. That week turned into a month, which then became a decision to give up social media for Lent.
I still can’t believe what happened…
10 Shocking Benefits of a Social Media Fast:
There is something about indirectly comparing your life to others that stirs up discontentment and anxiety. I didn’t even realize it was there….until it wasn’t.
Since unplugging from the online world, I am noticeably happier. I am not jealous of anyone else’s vacations or dinners out because I am oblivious to them.
Instead, I get to enjoy what is happening in my own life, without letting the highlight reel of someone else’s story steal my joy.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the negativity of the world? I do. For some reason, I always imagine that the horrible things happening to someone else are on their way to me. I like to call this the “what if” trap.
When I am hanging out in “what if” mode, I almost always convince my husband that we need to save (or spend) money we should be using to pay off debt “just in case”.
Yet, during my social media fast, I was pretty oblivious to the rest of the world’s drama. Oddly, those “what ifs” dissipated. We were finally able to part with extra savings we’ve been carrying around for a few months and use it to pay off debt. In just one month we were able to pay off our last credit card and a bank loan.
It turns out, I’m not the only who struggles with this. This study actually proves that our constant attachment to the electronic world can cause anxiety.
Social media has ads hidden everywhere. Worse yet, social media marketing is so smart that the ads target you specifically- they know what you want, where you live, and what you need.
I’ll be honest, some great opportunities came up this month that I really would have liked to spend money on. However, since I only saw them once in an email, or a text, instead of every single time I opened Facebook, it was much easier to talk myself off the ledge and say no.
Constant reminders + social proof (seeing your friends or others join in) is a great marketing trick to increase the hype, and the sales. Most of us don’t even realize we are getting sucked in until it’s too late.
If the statistics are correct, during the social media fast, I gained an extra two hours per day or 60 hours in a month.
It is amazing what you can do with an extra 60 hours.
Less time on social media meant more time with my family, writing, sleeping, reading, praying, exercising, all those beautiful soul-nourishing things that I claimed I didn’t have time for. In fact, I’d say the rest of this list stems from having more time.
With my focus on the people around me, instead of my virtual acquaintances, deeper conversations with my husband became the norm instead of the exception. Playtime with my son was more enjoyable because I was just there, with him, instead of trying to secretly glance at my phone whenever he looked away.
The lack of extra distraction allowed me to be fully present, mentally and physically.
Although I’d say Paleo Leap is the true expert on this one (you can check out their list of ways a media fast can improve your health here), I would definitely say my entire family’s health improved during this social media fast.
I had more time to cook heathy meals, now that I wasn’t getting lost in Pinterest for 40 minutes while I supposedly looked up the recipes. I also went back to the gym for the first time in amost three years!
I thought I felt more energetic and well rest just because I had more time to sleep. Turns out there is waaay more to it than that.
According to a study by Scientific American, avoiding screen time before bed helps you sleep better. This study also found a link between social media use and sleep disturbance. To make matters worse, they found a correlation between sleep deprivation and a higher risk for depression. No wonder I felt anxious beore!
Thanks to all the extra time for self-care, better sleep and lack of information overload, my brain felt less cluttered.
I was able to focus on my tasks at hand, get a lot more done in less time, and produce higher-quality work.
My creativity soared and I had the courage to dream again.
I applied for considerably less freelance jobs during my social media fast. However, I actually heard yes a few times instead of straight up rejection. Granted, a few small writing assignments isn’t a huge increase in income.
However, the fact that positive results came only when I slowed down and began working with intention is a pretty mind boggeling idea. It’s not about how much you do. It is about how well you do what matters.
Instead of frantically trying to do as much as everyone else, be like everyone else (or better), I was forced to take the time to remember how to just be me.
Real, honest, sometimes awkward me- a person no one else can do quite as well. I just needed to turn down the volume and the speed long enough to remember who I am.
The extra sleep, improved self-care, and lack of distractions all bound together in a sweet wave of inner-peace. A wave that I never want to leave.
These results are not unique…
You many be thinking, OK crazy lady. Enjoy your time in the dark ages. Social media is part of life and I’m not affected by it. Maybe not…or maybe you just don’t realize it yet.
I’m not the only one who has ventured over to the dark side and liked what she found.
A few readers of Primier Christianity shared their reactions after giving up social media for Lent. Here’s what they had to say:
“My five year old son told me I was listening more with my eyes now.” Dave Winter
“It turns out that, for me, it gave very little and took away far too much. I lost one of life’s most precious commodities to Facebook – time.” Victoria Tatton
Read their full reactions here.
How will you use your six years?
Now, I’m not saying social media is inherently bad. It is how we use social media that often makes it unhealthy. According to the study from Social Media Today that I mentioned at the beginning, we will spend almost six years of our lives on social media. Six years looking at and fantasizing about other people’s lives, but only two years socializing, ie spending time with others and building relationships.
So, the average person will waste six years of life and actually live two. That is not the kind of legacy I want to leave. Do you?
The scary thing is, we don’t even realize that our phones are eating away at our precious hours until we take a risk and sign off.
Are you ready to do a social media fast?
I challenge you to sign off for a week- just to see what happens.
Imagine what you could do with an extra fourteen hours this week…
Add your email below and I will send you a guide explaining how to do a social media fast, daily challenges to help you get the most out of your social media detox, and tips for maintaining a healthy relationship with social media once the fast is over.
I’m not asking you to disconnect from the world completely. I’m asking you to take a break, reassess what matters and then use social media to enhance life, not distract from it. Let’s reclaim those six years and live them well.
I am a free spirit who learned to use creativity as a key to success in chasing after debt freedom. I am a mom, lover of all things DIY, a little bit of a treehugger and modern-day hippy and an encourager to the core. If you need a little inspiration for your debt free journey, you’ve come to the right place.