A month ago I completed a 30-day self-prescribed social media cleanse. I deleted all my apps- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and stayed offline for a month. It’s really not that big of a deal, but I’d like to share some thoughts on my experience.
Over the years, social media has become an important part of my day-to-day routine. I use social media to connect with family and friends, to share the projects I’m working on and to learn about what’s happening in different parts of the world. It’s been instrumental in shaping my politics and world views. The platform it gives for sharing, learning and engaging with people and issues is extraordinary.
I took the cleanse because firstly, I wanted the challenge. I’m not obsessed with being online, but I spend a lot of my time scrolling up and down newsfeed(s). I wanted to see what else I could do with my time. Do I need to tweet all my thoughts? Maybe not. Can I take a picture and enjoy its’ aesthetic without sharing it on Instagram? Probably. Secondly, I was overwhelmed. It can be terribly exhausting to wake up in the morning, read about the world’s problems and simultaneously be engaged with everyone’s lives at a pseudo-intimate level. It’s too much.
During my break, I realised I wanted to be more conscious and disciplined with how I use social media, as an integral part of my self-care practice. I want:
- to protect the sanctity of my morning and bedtime
- to make sure I give myself a clean (mental) space to begin and end my day with
- to engage with myself first, before I plug into other things and people
- to ease myself into productivity
This cleanse has also been about curating a better newsfeed for myself. Although you don’t have control over the information shared online, you can make an effort to weed out anything that doesn’t nourish, entertain or inform you.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare”– Audre Lorde | Sheffield, England
The break gave me an opportunity to think about broader themes of connectedness and how they manifest in my life. I have a friend whose only means of communication is email (he doesn’t own a phone) and lately, it’s really made me think- what does it mean to be connected? I say this as someone who is on almost every social media platform. Is it necessary to be plugged in to everything? Why am I online? Sometimes it feels as if I have to build a life online as well as one offline. While this can be fruitful (the professional opportunities online are vast and incredible), it’s important, for the sake of my well-being, to be more intentional with the time I spend online and with the information I’m exposing myself to.
© Tessy Maritim