What on earth? Can you guess what I’m referring to here? Friend or foe – which one is it? Social media!
Social media can be my friend. It helps me connect with people who live hundreds of miles away. It helps me promote my blog and my writing. It helps me get recipe ideas from cooks across the globe.
But it comes with a cost. That is, it comes with a cost when I let it take charge of my life.
If I let it, it is no longer my friend, but my foe.
What do I mean by this?
The negative effects of social media overuse
I’ve noticed that when I’m constantly connected to social media – WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube – two things happen.
The first is that I miss out on real life.
When I’m constantly on my phone, I’m saying “yes” to all the people on the other side of the screen, but I’m saying “no” to the people right in front of me.
When I’m constantly on my phone, I’m saying “yes” to social media tasks, but I’m saying “no” to my everyday tasks.
When I’m constantly on my social media accounts, I’m saying “yes” to my virtual social life, and “no” to my real social life.
The second thing is that social media is one of my stress triggers.
This is partly because it’s so distracting, but also because of the information overload.
If I’m constantly reading and sending messages, looking at photos, checking out stats, reading posts, watching Instagram videos, etc. my brain gets overloaded with information.
Information + no time for processing = stress.
And then there’s something else – the ugly truth behind the lies we’re all told regarding social media.
We’re constantly told that social media will make us happy, that having X number of followers will make us happy, that being an influencer will make us happy, that being popular will make us happy.
But it’s simply not true. Like any pursuit that is based on numbers, when you hit one number, you will soon find yourself envisioning another number.
Now, I’m going to be honest with you. I want my blog and Instagram to grow. I sometimes even do certain things for my Instagram to grow faster, like loops and trains.
But the reason I want it to grow is not because of the number of followers itself, or because I think I’m so great, or because I want to be rich and famous.
No, the real reason is that I want to share my journey, both as a mum and as a Jesus follower with as many people as possible.
I want to impact people with the truth. I want to inspire and encourage others. That’s my heart.
How to deal with the double-sided coin – friend and foe?
The first thing is that I recognize that social media is not bad in itself. It’s just technology.
It’s what I do with it that makes the difference.
So, while I use social media for my blog, to communicate with friends and family and for information and music – I do not let it rule over my life.
I take breaks. I switch my phone off. I put my phone in another room.
And when I do, I find that I can concentrate on my tasks; I have more space to process my thoughts, and I manage to focus on my husband and children more.
So, that brings me to the social media challenge.
The 3-day social media challenge
How does it work?
Well, the social media intermittent fasting challenge is basically where you divide your 24 hour day into four blocks – two blocks of time with social media turned on and two blocks of time with social media turned off.
The hours are completely up to you, but I would suggest that you take a very long break at night, as you’re probably in bed anyway, and then a 4 or 5-hour block in the day.
So, mine is going to look like this:
- Social media on – 9.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
- Social media off – 12.30 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.
- Social media on – 5.30 p.m. – 9.00 p.m.
- Social media off – 9.00 p.m. – 09.00 a.m.
As you can see, I’m going to turn off social media in the afternoon, because that works well for me in terms of when I’m busier with all three kids, but you can customize your schedule to what works best for you.
Well, you can schedule the three-day fast for whenever is most convenient for you! I would suggest you do one 3-day fast every month. I will do mine on the first three days of every month.
Well, most modern phones have a focus mode that switches off certain apps.
On my phone settings, for instance, there’s a section called Digital Wellbeing & Parental Controls, and then under the ways to disconnect it gives you the “focus mode” option where you can select the apps you want to turn off and the schedule.
Just look under your settings to see if you have some version of this.
If you don’t have a “focus mode” setting on your phone, you can simply turn the internet off your phone, or station your phone in another room – remember the days of corded telephones? 😀
Now, what is the point of doing this? What’s the why?
The way I see it, there are actually three good reasons for going on a social media fast.
The first is simply experimentation. What happens when I fast social media for large chunks of time? How do I feel? What results can I see?
The second is focus. By cutting out on social media, what other things can I focus on? What other things can I spend time doing?
The third is discipline. Social media is increasingly addictive, the more it is used.
But when I say “no” to it, I’m weakening my addictive tendencies to it. I’m claiming freedom over something that could potentially rule over me.
So, what do you think? Would you like to go on this challenge with me?
If so, I would love to hear about your experience!
Let me know in the comments. 🙂