Last week, I went on a vacation with my family in Cancun. It was my daughter's spring break, and my boyfriend's first official week-long family vacation with us. It was kind of a big deal. Normally, I'd spend the entire week snapping photos and posting daily updates on Instagram and Facebook, and maybe blogging about it. Every moment would serve as a potential post, and my mind would be mining the moments for something to write about.
This year, I took a grand total of seven pictures, all of them in the hotel room, because I never took my phone anywhere. I didn't take it parasailing, I didn't take it jet-skiing, I didn't take it to the pool or the beach or to dinner or the shows or anywhere. I left it in my purse in the hotel room, and I only looked at it when I absolutely had to check my text messages. (Wednesday was payroll and there were questions.) I didn't check my email. I didn't get on social media. I didn't Tweet or Snap or 'gram any of that shit.
Instead, I read five books. I went parasailing and saw the beautiful views with my own eyes, not through a lens. I didn't worry about where my phone was when I was in the pool or at the beach. I didn't lose hours to a news feed that, during the week I was in Mexico, didn't change a bit. There were photographers on the resort, and they took pictures that I was able to buy, digitally, and that was wonderful. But mostly, I just experienced the trip without a thought to the social media "value" of our moments.
One of the books I read at the pool was Cal Newton's Digital Minimalism, which was profound, and necessary, for me at this point in my life. (Read it. Right now. Go to the library and check it out and read it, immediately.) I'm trying to run one business and start another, keep a loving relationship on track, raise a daughter, stay healthy (a real trick this year) and be an interesting human. None of those things are served by losing even fifteen minutes a day to Facebook. As I began to think deeply about how I'm spending my time, I realized that not only was I losing time to social media, it was making me feel worse about myself. A double whammy. I had gotten lost in the comparison game - comparing my vacation photos, my child, my business, my nascent business, my followers, my biceps, my hair, my witticisms, my everything to everyone else's everything. (Or at least the version of their everything they put on social media.) What an absolute soul-crushing waste of my potential. Instead of creating, I was comparing. Instead of rejoicing in what I have, I was regurgitating it for public consumption, and then worrying about what that public thought of my life, as if it was any of their business.
So I'm quitting. I'm quitting social media. I've already deleted Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and all the news sites from my phone, along with any games or other time sucks that I had on there. My phone is now stripped down to the barest bones, simply to be used for work essentials (and I'm toying with the idea of shutting off my email after 5:30 p.m. as well - stay tuned), texting the few people I want to regularly, and the two phone calls a month I make. If I'm bored, I can read, or write, or simply enjoy the stillness of being, instead of filling every minute with scrolling and clicking, comparing and failing. I won't delete my accounts, because my marketing team at work uses them for promoting Legion, which is fine. But I don't have to use them, check them, or scroll them.
I'm determined to be a person of consequence and I simply don't believe that I can do that and spend another second on social media. If I want to accomplish the goals I've set out for myself, I need to be intentional about who I am and how I spend my time. Maybe some day I'll come to see some greater value in social media, but until then, it's simply a waste.
I'll continue to blog here, and post my blogs to LinkedIn (I've never been able to spend more than 25 seconds on LinkedIn, so that's certainly not a time waster for me), and that'll be that. Honestly, just spending a week away from all of it in Mexico was already such a relief that I can't imagine how great I'll feel in a month, or six months, or 10 years from now when I've recaptured hundreds of hours of productive time and made something of myself, when every vacation I've taken has been as tech-free as my last one.