Today is supposed to be my first day back on Instagram and Facebook after an almost month-long hiatus. I haven’t logged in or posted yet, though, because I wanted to, first, be really sure that I do want to go back (in the case of Facebook, I’m really not sure) and, second, be really clear about my own terms of engagement for the time being. So I thought it might be useful to write about that here.
To be honest, I do not miss Facebook at all. My Facebook usage (which, honestly, was much less than it was a year ago) was wrecking all kinds of havoc on my nervous system, my body (my exodus was prompted by “iphone elbow”, which I acquired from Facebooking in bed) and the way I wanted to be living my day-to-day life. The break was good. For the first week, I found myself thinking about status updates and wondering what people were up to online, but after that, I was really grateful for the new space in my brain that had been occupied by Facebook threads, posts, responses, pings, invites and the rest of it. To be sure, I have missed a few birth announcements (and likely a death announcement) and the sweet deluge of back-to-school photos posted by friends, but I have found other ways to get the information I want: mostly by calling, texting or emailing people directly. What a concept!
Interestingly, I found myself seeking out news and information on my own, rather than being subject to whatever other people on Facebook were ranting about (and what Facebook’s algorithms actually picked up). I didn’t realize how my feed was affecting my online experience until I actually exercised more choice about what content I was consuming. And being conscious about that feels good. Feels better.
Additionally, I got a LOT done this month. I read a lot. I created so many videos, audio recordings and pieces of art. I just sat there a lot, too. I did a TON of Restorative Yoga to pull me out of my state of sympathetic nervous system overload. I didn’t need to note it on Facebook in order for my life to feel *real*.
I don’t want this to sound like I’m a total Luddite or an anti-social media snob: I love my Netflix queue, my Amazon Prime, podcasting, blogging, but my engagement with Facebook had taken a turn toward the unhelpful, to where it felt really heavy in my body.
The Instagram experiment yielded different results. I actually missed Instagram. Photographing the mundane minutiae of my life is a practice in appreciating the small things, the beauty in the dusty, finger-printed mirror of this life. I realized that I could be much more conscious about my use and engagement with Instagram, though, so I’m not jumping back into it just yet. I need some rules for myself.
Things I’ve learned//
- I don’t need to participate in every conversation.
- Without social media, my media consumption is much more conscious and choice-driven.
- I don’t think it’s necessary. People will find their way.
- I don’t miss Facebook at all.
- Instagram serves an important function in my practice of seeing.
- My nervous system has almost recovered.
Conscious engagement structure (THE RULES)//
- Only go back to Facebook if/when I actually want to.
- Only Facebook from the computer, never from the phone.
- Enforce office hours, no social media after 5pm.
- Instagram: post from phone, comment from computer.
- Take every August off, maybe more.
The summer of learning continues!
Thanks to everyone who wrote me emails (!!! love you!!!) about social media engagement. Some real gems.
What are your social media rules?