Mental Health & Peace: What I learned being off social media for one year (and some) – PT. 1

The year was 2017. I know when you read that, it’s underwhelming. But that’s over two years ago. I don’t immediately recall what type of mental space I was in but I just remember feeling like everything on social media was just a big pile of horseshit. I was really tired of seeing Facebook become everyone’s political soapbox or some sort of fucking personal diary, spewing nonsense or sharing personal things NO ONE should be knowing about. Some things are meant to be kept private.

I remember when Facebook was just up and coming and Myspace was all the rage. (I know, reading that probably made you hyperventilate. (LOL. Yep, I’m a dinosaur!) A friend was trying to upsell me on Facebook saying how much “cooler” it was than Myspace. For almost a year, I declined her every verbal invitation to sign up for Facebook. At that time, I felt as if I was addicted to Myspace and I realized it was enough for me. Honestly, I taught myself how to HTML code when I was a teen, borrowing codes for colors, songs, background images and whatever I wanted. Facebook just wasn’t a platform for individuality. And I was big on that as a teen. I wanted my own identity so how else would someone know you were cool if you didn’t make the effort to stand out? (LOLOLOLOL – I know. We’ll just leave that there.) But then slowly, my Myspace inbox and notifications were slowing down. The emptiness of this social media outlet became palpable. Where did everyone go?

Oh.

That’s right.

Facebook. And guess who went flagging down the bandwagon?????

Me. (Sigh).

Facebook was really a bland social media site when it first showed up. It’s just like all the other social media outlets there were before, just a different layout. (AOL Messenger – Anyone remember? OMG! I know, it just keeps getting worse! LOLOLOL!) Facebook later became an addiction too. I was wanting to know which of my “friends” were online and seeing what they were doing. It made me a virtual nosey-ass person and all well within reach of anyone I haven’t talked to you a while. Definitely had it’s pros and cons. I did not really think negatively of it at first until I started seeing and knowing more than I cared to know and what it was doing to my headspace. It became clear to me after several years that my head was collecting nonsense information clutter and it caused major information overload. It was like a constant feeding tube and frankly, got really sick of it.

Another bad habit that was picked up: scrolling. Just blatant, mindless-ass newsfeed scrolling at all times of the day except at work. I was working with kids during those years so it was near impossible to be on your phone even during break times. When you’re working with kids, it’s 1,000% focus at all times. Anyhow, I would make up the “scrolling” time by laying in bed with my phone stuck to my hand and in front of my face just catching up with the drama of the day. I don’t know – I can’t explain, but like I said – being nosey for no good reason, is all I could think of. (Clarification: so I sound a bit like a stalker, even as I’m typing this out, I’m a little put off by my expressing my personal experience with social media. And by no means was I looking out for just one person, but I lived a busy life, with an infant on my hips and a home to run – social media was the ONLY way I got to “see” and “keep up” with my “friends”. An outlet to the world. Hopefully that puts into perspective why Facebook was so heavily used.)

Slowly and surely, I had my mind trained to “check-in” with Facebook as soon as I had spare time. This also goes for Instagram. I also went through the same cycle with Instagram and reluctantly opening an account. (I liked Instagram so much better though – I’ll get to that later.)

So back to when 2017 rolled around, I have had over 12+ years of social media experience and I retained ————————- NOTHING!

Then all of a sudden I just had an overwhelming sense to just give up social media. Right then, I just decided to disappear. No big announcements. I did not even tell my husband until he asked me if I had seen the plethora of “funny” videos he had sent me. Of course I didn’t. He thought I was lame when I told him. But I didn’t care. Lol.

I simply deactivated or privatized my accounts and deleted apps off of my phone. I turned off all app notifications as well. I told myself, if anyone wants to get in touch with me, they can call or text me directly. And so I went away quietly from the social media world…….

Initially, I thought I would have a terribly, hard time disconnecting. I also knew that I had habits that I needed to kick in response to no longer being consumed by social media. The process was definitely eye-opening. But it wasn’t at all as hard as I had imagined.

First, it started with just putting down my phone for a set amount hours for the day. Being that I still needed to be accessible to my family, I opted to put my phone down for 2 hours, Monday through Friday, from 6pm – 8pm. Guys, I cannot tell you how weird and freeing it was to not have to be at my cell phone’s literal, beck and call during those hours.

Secondly, I also noticed how a bit silent and lonely my world was. I realized that the social media platforms make you feel so falsely connected that its void makes you feel like you need to have that social media account for “human” interaction. After two weeks of not being in touch with people and seeing their daily news, in my opinion, was the best fucking thing for my mental clarity. Although I did have several negative thoughts cross my mind, I replaced them with more positive ones of what those negative thoughts meant.

For example:

 I realized how quiet my phone really was when I wasn’t on it. NO ONE called or texted me besides my family & husband outside of the 2 hr mandatory “phone down” time. (A little sad, right? Lol!)

For several weeks, it was like this; slipping into the negative thoughts was so easy and it did make me feel like I really didn’t exist. And as I got use to it, I really started to enjoy the silence.

And I decided to be gentler on myself; I picked up a more positive self-talk dialogue where, for every dumb negative thought I had, I replaced with more forgiving ones. Such as: “A quiet phone means all is well with everyone.”

And I left it at that!

I continued this everyday. I traded every negative thought for a positive one. I built a habit to not take this experience so personally that I was emotionally wounding myself because a lack of “human” interaction via social media.

I started picking up way more books to read or listen to, started learning new skills that I had on my “to learn” list, started kicking my little personal goals list and it was revitalizing. I was being PRODUCTIVE. I started noticing the decrease of my ego because no one was in contact with me – definitely humbling and I guess my soul needed that.

You know, when I actually did see folks I hadn’t seen in awhile and they filled me in on their lives, it was SO NICE being able to be personally filled-in in detail of the latest news they had. And every time, they received a GENUINE reaction from me. I also completely loved the fact that social media did not ruin it for me and respond with “Oh, right, yah, I saw that on your post.” Kinda rude when you think of it. It’s like a subliminal response like, “Ok, yah, yah, you already said that. Entertain me with something else.”

I started actively changing my vision for my life – stopped dreaming of things and started doing.

I picked up a side business privy to 2017 but started a wide-open search for knowledge and just devoured everything I could get my hands on to train myself on better habits, money management, business management, making sales, etc…

I even paid off my student loan within that year because I really started to take myself more seriously and rewrote my values about life, people, etc…and wasn’t wasting my time focusing on pointless things.

Lots of things started revealing themselves once I put down my phone. My headspace was starting to clear up and it was helping me become a better person overall.

I mean, if you read my blog post, “Honest Habit 3: Knowing Your Deadly Sin”, you were introduced to a very unhappy Mainhia. Years of unhappiness. Ironic how we steal our own joys while trying to pursue it, huh?

I have come to appreciate those around me very, very differently. I make time for the ones who make time for me. I live with intent. I cut out the bullshit and I can check myself in realtime, remembering that when I do something – it’s from a genuine place of my head and heart, together. I don’t hold back my authenticity anymore just so someone will have a tolerant version of me. I thrive in authenticity and I think many will revive when they come to this conclusion too.

I have to clarify that social media in itself is not “evil” or anything like that. But of course, you can develop toxic thinking and a mental clutter by being so dependent on it to keep you attuned to the world. You don’t need social media. You just need to return to the real world and experience it. Reconnect one-on-one.

When I returned to social media in 2018 – I had discovered NOTHING had changed. (Lol. 😂) Facebook was the same. Instagram improved with longer videos and story settings which was awesome. Plus, being that Instagram was solely visual before getting to the captions, I could move past “blah” posts and onto things I actually liked seeing. I could skip over reading complaints. (Seriously! That’s why I am pretty active on Instagram and have kept my Facebook account privatized. I keep Facebook because I have years worth of family pictures up so I have a little sentimental attachment to the account but that’s it.)

When I came back, I immediately noticed that everyone is still on their soapboxes. Still doing what they do. The world will go on with or without you.

And that is the truth that will wake you up and quit wasting your time on shit that doesn’t matter.

So, is it time for you to put down your phone and social media?

I’m positive your mental health will thank you.

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Disclaimer: All information provided is for entertainment purposes only and I am not sponsored for anything written here. I have a personal preference for social media now but am in no way saying one is better than the next. Just sharing my personal experiences. Thanks for reading!

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