During the month of August, I decided to take a break from Instagram and Facebook. I signed off both accounts, just to delete that extra layer of protection from cheating. I wasn’t worried – I knew that I could quit social media for a month with no problem. What was difficult about my sabbatical was not fighting the urge to troll the sites, but it was figuring out what to do once September hit. When my month was up, I was not chomping at the bit waiting to get back to social media. But I was “chafing at the reins”, as my father would say, to make some changes to my social media presence.
Just an aside – I think my month off was more of a social media selah, a word biblically translated as “pause, and think of that.“ I wasn’t taking a break for the sake of taking a break, just to pick the habit back up, but I was really taking a selah, and using the month to “pause, and think of that.” The biggest questions one can ask when taking a social media selah are “What is my connection to social media? Why am I connected in that way? and “What can I live with and without?” I was not alone in my break – fellow bloggers/podcasters Darrenkeith and Doug also walked away from various social media platforms in August. Both blogged about their experiences, sharing external articles that talked about the science of our “need” for social media, etc. Dopamine levels shift as our brains develop a desire to continually pick up our phones and connect to social media. As much of a science nerd as I am, I wasn’t thinking about my dopamine – I already knew about that phenomenon. I wanted to know where my place was in social media and where did I see myself going forward.
Here’s what I discovered. In order to make a decision, I had to ask myself a few questions:
- How did I end up on social media anyway? I entered the world of Facebook over 9 years ago, maybe 10, when I wanted to view pictures of a high school reunion I had missed. I remembered thinking, “This Facebook thing is for young folk…” Boy was I wrong! Instagram and Twitter were just add-ons over the years and I gravitated to them above other similar apps like Snapchat and the like.
- What have I gained from social media? I have actually had extremely positive experiences on social media. Careful selection of friends/followers kept my experiences relatively drama-free. When I saw drama in a group I had joined, or with “friends” who turned left, I immediately walked away from those situations. That’s the beauty of social media – you can choose how social you want to be. Duh. I made several cool acquaintances, and made a handful of new long-lasting friendships. Out of those friendships, I was able to actually come out of the shadows and establish my own online presence – a YouTube channel, two blog sites and a music podcast. I wrote for two e-magazines and was able to express myself creatively. I also re-connected with family members and school chums – some of whom I didn’t know before but now have become close to. I’ve had some times when I chose to go dark and disappear from social media for a few days – mainly to get away from incessant posts about news events that I just didn’t want to be bothered with reading about. But again, you choose how social you want to be.
- What would I lose if I gave up social media? This was a hard question to answer…What if I closed my Facebook and/or Instagram accounts? Before I answered that question, I went back to #2 above and purged my contacts on both platforms by half. This reduced how much traffic has passed my feeds, and the slower tempo has kept me from falling back down the dopamine rabbit hole. So…
- What am I going to do now? I’m still answering this question. I actually had an epiphany the other day – what connects me to social media? My voice. I have a voice on social media and it’s okay. But much like people who like to hang out at the club and party every weekend, but then decided to slow down the festivities, I have decided to pull back from the party, using my voice only when truly necessary. I worried about this decision – how do you mute yourself? Do you lose yourself or your identity? Perhaps, but that’s okay too. I finally made the decision I have struggled with for the past two years – I am disabling my original blog “This and That With Calandra” and merging it into “Liner Notes Lounge.” Giving up “calandrabranch.com” felt awkward, as if I were giving up my identity. But I realized that it’s really not that deep! LOL. My life is all the things I wrote about on both sites, but the domain name doesn’t define ME. I define the site. I’ll always be Calandra, even without my name in a URL.
So, thank you Darrenkeith and Doug for being the inspirations for my social media selah. I will continue to keep a FB and IG presence, especially to promote future blogs and podcasts, and to promote the projects my friends are working on. And I’ll be checking in on family and friends. My voice may just get a little quieter, and I’ll be a little less “social.”
Thanks for taking time to read this long manifesto. Peace.