40 Days Without Social Media

Lately I’ve been feeling unmoored. Untethered. Buffeted about by my life, my emotions, social media, and politics.

My social anxiety – always a presence, sometimes more, sometimes less – seems to have taken ahold of me.

And my self-care tactics to ward off depression haven’t been working.

A part of me seems to be lost, and try as I might, I can’t figure out where it went.

Actually that’s not true. I know where it went.

You see, I’ve been dabbling here and there with my own personal retreats.

I started with random days off from social media.

More recently I took a whole week away from all voices outside of my own: TV, social media, the Internet, radio, books, magazines, podcasts, even music.

For a week I decided to say goodbye to all outside sources of input and just listen to my own voice. Just be present with whatever came up, be that boredom, anxiety, or something else.

And boy did I get a handful. Quite often I would be doing something completely innocuous, like washing the dishes, and suddenly I would be thinking angry thoughts…worrying about something that happened years ago…or silently yelling at someone in my head. And every time that happened, I thought, “Geez. No wonder I like to watch Gilmore Girls while I do the dishes. It’s so much more pleasant than what’s in my head.”

But I didn’t watch Gilmore Girls. I just did the dishes and let myself be aware of what was going on in my head.

And that first night, without the distraction of TV or a podcast, I did the dishes…and then I organized the pantry. I have to tell you, it felt so good. I always think I don’t have time for things like that but I realized when I took media out, suddenly I had time.

And suddenly I had time for a lot of other things too. Like more sleep. Like writing.

I started to feel like myself again. Slightly less untethered. Slightly more grounded.

A little less lonely and a little more at peace.

And after that week, I went back to social media and everything else – although I didn’t really want to. But very quickly I began to feel lost and unmoored again.

So I decided to give myself 40 days – like my own personal Lent – to retreat. 40 days without Facebook, without Instagram, and only checking e-mail twice a day. 40 days without TV or scrolling through USWeekly Online. I unsubscribed from all but one of my mailing lists. No podcasts. (Books, radio, and magazines are allowed this time because I realized they didn’t have the negative effect on me that the others do.)

Just 40 days to be in my own head. To find out who I am and what I stand for and what I want when I’m not looking at everyone else for the answers.

And I can’t tell you what my answers are yet. I’m still in those 40 days. I’m still retreating.

But I can tell you this. I don’t think I want to keep doing things the way I’ve been doing them. I’m not sure what that means. But I know things are shifting.

And I know I’m not the only one with that thought.


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