I have a confession.
I’ve spent far too many nights up late over the past year. I can’t blame the baby. I’ve been up late, furiously typing on the little device that I own – or owns me – obsessively refreshing my apps for the latest update. The latest argument. The latest scandal.
In many ways it resembles an addiction. “I need to stop.”
“I can’t stop.”
“This feels bad.”
“This feels good.”
“This isn’t good.”
“But everyone is doing it.”
I’m admittedly a person who is too tied to their phone. I check my social media apps: Facebook/Instagram/Twitter – in that order – dozens of times a day. I could blame my job – I work in social media/blogging – but that’s not it. It’s never been healthy, but it’s become increasingly problematic for me over the past year. Late night political fights, comment after comment debating racism, the pandemic, anything that got my heart racing. Debating people whose minds I was never going to change. Waiting for those “likes” to pour in and gifs like “This (arrow pointed up)” to make myself feel smug and justified in my social media vigilante persuits.
It’s embarrassing to admit, really. I’m 33. What am I doing? But I hope if you see some of yourself in what I’m saying that I can be of some help.
It recently came to a head. I hit my “social media bottom” and realized I needed to set boundaries. I thought about what apps were “joy suckers.” Twitter used to be, but since I was forced to make my account private because of some shenanigans and therefore haven’t been on Twitter as much. And I was less angry. WHAT A CONCEPT TELL ME MORE MEREDITH. Instagram is more a work tool, that’s fine. Ok, I’m dancing around the problem. I know the problem.
The problem is Facebook, the app that causes me the most anguish, but is easiest to justify. “It’s how I organize! It’s how I work! It’s how I stay connected with family!”
Girl stop lying to yourself.
I made the step that I’ve known I needed to do for years. I removed Facebook from my phone (SO BOLD, SO DARING). I know, it sounds dumb even typing it, but in many ways Facebook had become an addiction. Each notification a dopamine hit. The tease of a brewing fight had my heart racing. I hated it. I loved it.
But, like alcohol, I could never stop at just one comment. It would quickly turn into multiple comments, replies, screenshots, conferring with others, pulling others into my chaos, late nights, emotional hangovers the next day. I had to get honest with myself.
So I’m trying moderation. Facebook is no longer on my phone, so in order to access it, I have to use my computer. If I see a notification that I know is going to set me down a path, I remove it. Out of sight, out of mind.
I bought a journal to get the swirling thoughts out of my head and somewhere safe. Social media – Facebook in particular – isn’t always a safe space for all my thoughts and feelings. And, I don’t need everyone to be privy to the 1st drafts of my thoughts. It can be just for me.
I also have had this silly idea for years that one day I’ll write a book. I don’t have any book ideas. I see myself writing short essays. I look up to writers like Samantha Irby. I figure keeping a journal would be a good start for a future book. At the very least it’s cheap therapy and will hopefully ward off sleepless nights and racing thoughts.
I’m thankful to be at this place. I find out of anguish and mistakes can come the greatest gifts if we are ready to receive them.
Don’t let social media – or anyone – be an energy suck, a thief of your joy.
Protect yourself and your space.