The Distraction of Social Media

First, before the title makes you think, "Oh no, another person preaching the evils of social media right after they quit... These people are worse than vegans or ex-smokers!", let me clarify that this ISN'T what this post is.  I think social media can be a very useful tool, or even just a pleasant distraction, for many people when used properly and in moderation.  What I'm going to talk about here is my experience with it, with Facebook in particular.

I'm a Facebook addict.  There, I said it.  When I'm active on Facebook, I'm ACTIVE, meaning I post and interact a LOT.  What I had come to realize recently is that it had become too much a part of my life, often to the detriment of other things.  When I mentioned the "in moderation" above, that was the opposite of me...  Back in July, I deactivated my account for a couple weeks to just clear the cobwebs a bit, get myself away from the distractions and negativity, and just get myself a bit more focused again.  It's amazing how, with that time reclaimed, I began to think about more productive things: things I wanted to write, photo shoot ideas, website and business ideas, etc.  Basically, with my brain free of thinking about things to post, replies to posts, etc., I could put my mind to other uses.  It was very freeing.

Then it happened.  I had something (political) I really wanted to speak out about, and Facebook has always been my preferred venue, so I decided to opt back in.  Surely now that I realized the value of spending my time differently, I would be wiser and engage in a more limited, moderate way, not waste so much time.  Ha!  It didn't take long before I fell right back into the old habits, and not only that, but right from that first post, I fell right back into the same old tired debates with the same old people.  It's not just wasting time, it's re-wasting time, as I was having the exact same types of discussions with the exact same people, and per usual, no one was changing anyone's mind.  It's just friends speaking at (not to) each other on the Internet.  And man, all those ideas I had churning during my break?  They quickly fell to the back of my brain, hardly getting any more thought as I focused on these new lively (albeit repetitive) discussions.  After just a couple weeks back on, I knew what I had to do...

So I've quit again.  I'm now about 5 days sober. :)  The ideas and deeper thoughts have come back.  Not only that, I just find myself more focused in the moment: I'm a better driver because my mind isn't thinking about my next reply in an online conversation; I'm more engaged with my family, as I'm not just thinking about posting pictures of the moments were enjoying together; etc., etc.  

I've also replaced that activity with more productive (to me) writing activity: not only blogging, which forces me to write more long-form, but also doing actual, physical writing in a notebook.  I'm finding that putting actual pen to paper makes me achieve greater focus about whatever I'm thinking about, and when I read back on it later, I can then think more critically, "Is this really something I also want to put online, to blog about; or is it something I should just leave alone, leave it just for me?"  I'm not writing every single day yet, but at least every couple of days I've been getting the notebook out and putting some thoughts down, usually on an afternoon coffee break at work.  It makes for a nice break in the work day, too. 

Now, I haven't gone total 20th century and given up on all social media.  I'm still active on Instagram and Twitter (and cross-post to Tumblr), but those I've always been able to use in more moderation than Facebook.  I can read or post on Twitter for a few minutes, and then not think about it again for a couple days.  Instagram sucks a little more of my time, but I still keep it much more moderate; it's not anything I consider detrimental.  And I have kept my Facebook Messenger account active so I can still be in contact with friends for whom the only real contact info I have is FB.  I just don't have the main account active, so don't waste hours on the news feed, get tagged, etc.

I'm not going to count this any raging success yet, not until I've remained off for months and don't even think about it anymore.  Then the monkey is finally off my back... :)

What social media platform is the big time waster for you?  Or is it something besides social media?