In the past few months I have become a big believer in unplugging. I will admit, I was that person that had to have Facebook on their phone. If there was a notification I had to know what was going on. I constantly was on social media. I needed to stay tuned in.
But, you know what? I didn’t. And the more I did it, the more depressed I felt. Weaning myself off social media was hard, but it was totally worth it and has so many benefits for your mental health.
Sometimes, I miss the old days before social media. Before cell phones. Before technology was literally everywhere and touched every facet of our lives. Sometimes I want to just go back to a flip phone that all it does is call people and text people. I’m so tired of this constant need for connection.
Cell phones do have their good points though. For example, I have anxiety. There was one point when I was a kid where I actually developed agoraphobia. For me, a cell phone is like a safety blanket. It makes me feel like I can reach out to whoever I need whenever I need. It helps me to go about my day, drive, run errands but still know if I need someone I can quickly call them. If I don’t have my cell phone on me I feel very anxious and scared. I can honestly say that having a cell phone has helped to give me freedom and feel safe.
But, do we really need smart phones? Do we really need to be plugged in 24/7? I remember when myspace first came on the scene. It was pretty cool. And then Facebook came out when I was in college and was only for college students back then. And then smartphones infiltrated our lives and our cell phones became tiny computers leading to where we are today, constantly plugged in 24/7.
When I first read Oola: Find Balance In An Unbalanced World the Oola Guys advocated for taking time to unplug. I would do this for parts of my day, but then I would be dragged right back in. I realized that I needed to take a more drastic action to really stay unplugged.
First, I started off by unfollowing people that were just acquaintances and only following my family and close friends. Once I did that and was ok with it, I decided to take the next step. I deleted all social media apps from my phone. And I didn’t just delete them. I blocked them so I couldn’t even access their websites. And as crazy as it sounds, it was super hard but it worked! I feel a lot happier and lot more free off of social media, away from the constant needing-to-be-plugged-in-24/7.
You might find me on Facebook once in a blue moon. If something is going on in our family, my husband will let me know. But, other than that I want no part of Facebook. This is why M.U.D. does not have a Facebook page.
I found that I like Instagram, even though it is a social media app, because it just has to do with posting photos, which is how our Instagram account came about. Since I don’t want to be on Facebook, but still would like to share pictures with our family, I decided Instagram was the best way to do it. It’s just like a digital photo album. It’s something positive, whereas I feel like a lot of times Facebook promotes negative feelings.
There have actually been studies done on this phenomenon:
“The irony of Facebook is by now known to most. The “social” network has been linked to a surprising number of undesirable mental health consequences: Depression, low self-esteem, and bitter jealousy among them. Now, a new study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology finds that not only do Facebook and depressive symptoms go hand-in-hand, but the mediating factor seems to be a well-established psychological phenomenon: “Social comparison.” That is, making comparisons, often between our most humdrum moments and our friends “highlight reels” – the vacation montages and cute baby pics – is what links Facebook time and depressive symptoms together. So is it time to cut down on Facebook? Maybe. Or maybe we should just adjust our attitude toward it.”
I have experienced all of the above. And I decided to “adjust” my attitude towards Facebook by removing it from my life. The problem with Facebook is that a lot of people present their lives through filters. They make their lives look perfect, they make their houses look perfect, etc… Everything is seen through rose colored glasses. It’s fake, like a Hollywood photograph that’s been airbrushed. You don’t see the flaws. You only see what people want you to see and that leads to feelings of jealousy, low self-esteem, depression, comparison because you start to wonder “Why do they have X, Y, & Z and why can’t I?” Not everyone experiences this, but it’s a common enough phenomenon for psychologists to have actually studied it.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Using Instagram I am constantly taking pictures, so I’m not really unplugging. But, even without Instagram I’d still be taking photographs. I am a photographer by nature, always have been ever since I was kid. I’ve always had this urge to explore and photograph. I love photographing moments and things in my life. I love capturing memories. My husband is also a photographer. So, the two of us without cameras would be completely foreign. It’s not in our nature. Instagram just lets us share the photographs that we would be taking anyways.
So, you know what I say? Unplug. Get rid of what you don’t need. Live in the now. Since giving up social media I can tell you I feel happier. I feel better in my day-to-day life. I appreciate more what I have. I appreciate more our adventures. I appreciate more the amazing life that I have. And that is so M.U.D. I have more time to tune-in to my family. Being unplugged helps me make those Mindful Unique Decisions that I need to propel my life forward and my M.U.D. life has zero room for social media. I live in the NOW.