My wife is a better person than I am. When we were dating, I was pretty confident of that, but after 12 years of marriage, I’m thoroughly convinced. She has this discipline of choosing something to quit at the beginning of every month. Once she makes her choice, she asks if I want to play along. Nine times out of ten, I say no thanks. And without judgment, she just goes along with her fasting business— widening the gap between her “goodness” and mine.
On Halloween night, when she told me she was going to fast from social media for the month of November, something in me said, You should probably do that too. So I did. And since I did, I thought I’d share the three big things I learned.
- What you feed grows; what you starve dies.
I had always heard this growing up, but now it’s a reality in my life. The first few days of the month were hilarious for me. I caught myself on multiple occasions opening up my phone to tap on one of my go-to apps. During those first few days, I definitely missed it. And I did miss a few things going on in my friends’ lives. After about a week though, the urge was pretty much gone. Now that November is over, the desire for social media is almost gone. I’m five days into December and I’ve checked social media less than five times. Because it was starved, the desire actually died.
- Social media is exhausting.
This one is the most surprising. Being off of it for a month has made me realize how exhausting social media actually is. About a week into November, my wife and I agreed that we kind of enjoyed being off of it. I definitely didn’t realize how much subtle pressure there was to post about my life and keep up with the appearance of activity. I didn’t know it’d be so nice to not feel that. And, of course, there’s the constant comparison with other people’s lives. It doesn’t totally go away, but it certainly lessens without it.
- Social media is not the problem.
There was one disturbing thing I learned during my month without social media. If you asked me before the break, I would’ve thought I was addicted to aimlessly scrolling through Instagram and Twitter. Turns out, the addiction to social media wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Quitting wasn’t that hard. Unfortunately, about 80 to 90 percent of the time was just replaced by other things on my phone. I checked the weather way more often. I shopped on Amazon and DealNews more often. I read more articles on my browser. The bad news is that my addiction is with my phone. The good news is that I now know that and can do something about it.
To be clear, I’m not against social media. There are loads of benefits. On the contrary, what I am for is an evaluated life. Unfortunately, most of us fail to turn down the noise of life low enough and long enough to actually evaluate what’s inside of us.
Plato said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I’m not sure he was right. Rather, I’d say that an unexamined life might still be worth living, but the person has no chance of getting better. And that’s just flat-out discouraging.
So . . . January is coming and you’ve got a few weeks until then.
Think about your life.
Pick something to quit . . . not because it’s bad, but simply to discover what you wouldn’t otherwise. You’ll definitely learn something about yourself and you might just be better for it!