About 12 months ago I broke up with Facebook. It was the last of the socials that still had a hold on me. Cutting ties with Facebook signaled the end of my relationship with all social media for at least a year … or so I thought.
The decision felt radical but it was far from reckless. Over about the same length of time as I had been with Facebook, I crafted a life I absolutely love.
I just didn’t feel like I spent much time in it.
I wanted to set up 2023 to be a truly magical year where I spent more time with people I loved, doing the things I loved and being fully present in my life.
Something had to give to make that happen and that something was social media. Removing scrolling and focusing on living should be a very easy choice but as I wrote in my blog post from 12 months ago, 3 Reasons Why I am Breaking Up with Facebook, it is far more difficult than you might think!
Could I really do it?
One of the reasons I wrote that blog post and shared it far and wide was to hold myself accountable. Even though I had the most noble reasons for staying off the socials, I was worried that I would somehow get sucked back into the social media vortex. Declaring my bold intention of 12 months without social media would surely keep my itchy fingers from scrolling… wouldn’t it?
Here are three failures during 12 months without social media …
1) Failure 1: LinkedIn
I work full-time in a profession outside of writing. In March this year my role was unexpectedly cut as part of a large restructure. Although I didn’t want to mess up my social media detox so early in the year, the pragmatic side of me immediately rejoined LinkedIn. It is certainly extremely helpful to be part of the largest business and employment social media site in the world when you are looking for a new job!
Hence, due to circumstances outside of my control, I ended up spending quite a lot of time on LinkedIn while I was applying for new roles. But I must admit, I didn’t just use it to look for new employment. With no Facebook in my life, I found myself scrolling, reading posts and clicking on the odd link. LinkedIn became my proxy Facebook for a few weeks between jobs, providing the social media hit I still craved. As soon as started a new position, I dutifully updated my LinkedIn profile and switched it off.
Success 1: During the few weeks of my job hiatus I also managed to read over 20 novels, memoirs and self-help guides! Even though I did scroll on LinkedIn more than I would have liked, I also doubled down on doing one of the things I love most in the world, reading books.
2) Failure 2: TikTok
Finding new and improved ways to market my books is an endless task. Everyone is talking about TikTok and how it is the biggest thing for author marketing and book sales. As I had already blemished my commitment of 12 months without social media with LinkedIn, I decided to jump onto the platform to see what all the fuss was about.
TikTok is fun but also overwhelming. I could see the potential but didn’t feel quite ready to take advantage of it to market my books, especially during my self-imposed social media break.
After a few weeks of “business research” I turned TikTok off. I haven’t completely ruled TikTok out for book marketing in the future. However, I would want to be able to utilize it in the best way possible without it sucking away all my valuable time. Watch this space.
Success 2: This year my mother celebrated a significant birthday milestone and to celebrate we have been going out to shows together. After the pandemic lockdowns, I am even more grateful to be able to go and see live theatre, comedy and music. To attend these events with my mama checks off doing what I love with people I love in a major way.
3) Failure 3: Facebook
Yes, I did end up on Facebook so technically I failed my 12 months without social media experiment. Still, I did it on my terms. I did not post any new posts myself nor scroll the feeds. I didn’t feed the algorithm by liking or commenting. And I certainly didn’t click on any links.
The Facebook app is buried deep in a folder on my phone so it doesn’t glare out at me, begging me to tap on it. A few times per month, the leader of a life coaching academy I belong to posts Facebook live videos. I enjoy watching the recordings of those so dig deep into the folder, find the Facebook app, go directly to the Facebook group and then search for the video to watch. I would like to say it gets easier to brush past all those red notification signals but it doesn’t. I have learned to live with them, simply focusing on the content I want to consume. Then as soon as the video is over, I leave Facebook immediately.
Success 3: Showing up to Facebook completely on my terms has led to the biggest success of all – feeling less anxiety about social media. Creating my own strict boundaries around Facebook and the other socials means I am no longer beholden to the social media giants. I can have the relationship I want. I don’t ‘need’ to take a selfie any more but sometimes I do anyway!
Control Not Scroll
The fact I ended up on 3 different social media sites – LinkedIn, TikTok and Facebook – when I publicly stated I was going 12 months without social media can be considered a significant failure.
However, I would prefer to focus on the many successes over the past year including spending more time doing what I love with the people I love. I now feel like I participate more fully in the life I created. I am here.
What I didn’t anticipate was how much calmer and less anxious I would feel now I limit social media in a way that works best for me. I thought I craved the next dopamine hit of a scroll but what my soul was singing out for was to feel in control.
Will I extend my experiment? In a word, yes. I don’t miss social media at all but it does have a way of sucking me right back in if I am not extremely careful. I need to keep strict boundaries in place when it comes to the socials or I will fall back into habits that don’t serve me well.
Sure, you may see me dabbling in the next new socials platform for book marketing purposes or a bit of light-hearted fun. But, overall, I am looking forward to my 12 months without social media turning into a lifetime without it.
See you in real life!
Check out my other blog posts on detoxing from social media and digital distractions: