Why I’m quitting social media forever

First of all, apologies for the click bait-y title. I know, I know. It would annoy me too. But I got your attention, didn’t I?

When I went off social media on October 2—the day after turning thirty-five—I told myself I’d be back on in thirty days. I just needed a reset. A break. Some time away from feeds and ads, and to focus on my family.

This was partially by necessity. You see, I have a difficult-to-put-to-bed child, and many nights, I would lay next to him while he fell asleep, scrolling through my feed, waiting for his deep breathing to signal my chance to sneak out. But more times than I’d like to admit, I laid there way longer than necessary, my face lit up by the glow of my smartphone, watching Stories and scrolling Instagram. While I don’t think I fell into comparison, I was simply wasting time.

I was posting at night too. During the day, I’d often record videos or take photos. At night, I’d post and “catch up” on my friends’ lives. And also near-strangers’ lives. (As I look back, three months removed from my quit from social, I can’t help but ogle at my weird behavior. Because staring at a little device for hours a week is kind of strange. Right?)

So I quit. I went off social media entirely, with the exception of the Facebook group for my Nonfiction Book School program. Occasionally I jumped in to respond to messages (I kept some alerts on). Every so often, I needed to access a group or information on Facebook. But mostly, I stayed away.

Being off social media has been amazing. Liberating. Totally and completely freeing. I have my mind back—I’m no longer thinking about Instagram when I take photos or videos. I’m not writing captions in my head while I’m on a hike or thinking about a Stories series I’ll do that week. Instead, I am thinking about things that matter and creating content I feel really good about. Like client work, podcast episodes, and this blog.

I also found new ways to connect with my friends. Since I’m not keeping up on their lives on social media, I pick up the phone and call them. Like, actually call them. On the phone. To talk. Out of the blue.

I read the news myself rather than rely on others to curate it for me (yes, I did that).

I am spending more time reading, learning, and listening to podcasts.

I call my mom.

I tidy the house and go through things I put off. (Like all those pesky puzzles with the missing pieces. Buh-bye, Batman puzzle! See ya, Thomas the Train!)

Most of all, I’ve reclaimed my focus. I’ve tidied my mental space.

Attention is the scarcest commodity these days, and I decided to reclaim mine.

But I have to admit, my click-bait title isn’t totally honest, because the truth is, I’ll be back on social media. I have big dreams to help tens of thousands of aspiring authors write their books, and the place to connect with them is online. Places like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But I’ll do so responsibly and respectfully, for them and for me. The difference is I now see social media as a tool for connection rather than a place to socialize.

A few parameters I’ve set for myself upon my inevitable return:

  1. Check my feed no more than once per day for 10 minutes or less. (Ideally once per week.)
  2. Post no more than three times per week. (Ideally once, because ain’t nobody got time for that.)
  3. Create and share thoughtful, meaningful content.

 

That’s it. I plan to log out of my social apps when I’m done using them. (I haven’t re-downloaded Instagram yet.) And most of all, I want to remember that social media is about people. There are real humans on the other side of the screen. I’m a real human too, who wants to spend time connecting in more meaningful ways with people, not screens.

How about you? What is your relationship like with social media? What would you like to change? What parameters do you set for yourself to keep healthy boundaries with technology? Share with me—I love learning from you!

 

14 Comments

  • Roberta Sarver Reply

    You are so right. I quit for a week or more at Christmas time to focus on my family and realized how much more relaxed I felt. Now I am limiting it too.

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Isn’t it powerful to be away from social, Roberta? Like you, I was amazed by how much more relaxed and present I felt just a week in. I’m glad to hear you’re continuing to set limits after seeing the benefits!

  • Misty Megia Reply

    This sounds ideal and much needed. I found myself prioritizing responding to a comment on social media over responding to the question my husband who was standing in front of me. I kicked myself and set my phone down for the night… During covid it’s helped me connect deeply with new people, it’s given me business opportunities I’m not sure how I would have found otherwise… But it’s also been a time suck.. So finding the social balance and setting engagement guidelines moving forward is priority… Thanks for the post Stacy!!!!

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Your story connects for me, Misty! I was finding myself doing the same with my family—commenting on an Instagram post, for example, while my kids were in the backseat of the car (not while driving—don’t worry!). I love that you’re focusing on intentionality so you can experience the good side of social.

  • Azmine Nimji Reply

    I share your concerns. I used to manage limiting myself to 1 hr per day on social media…well with Covid it has been contant and i realize how toxic it is.

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Azmine, awareness is the first step, right? I hope you’re able to find a good balance. If you haven’t watched The Social Dilemma, I recommend doing so, as it put into perspective some of the neurological triggers I didn’t realize were influencing my behaviors.

  • LaQuilia Reply

    I have a love/hate relationship with social media but am working on loving it unconditionally. I can relate to your old habits of wasting time and scrolling, especially at the end of the day. Once the pandemic arrived I left Facebook for good. I visit Instagram about every other day and I am intentional about time spent. I am planning a comeback but for business purposes with a similar plan of action to yours. I feel it really is the healthiest.

    I too turned 35 in October last year (Libra gang 🤗). We are the “early settlers” of Facebook & IG. The platforms transformed from personal relationship builders to business builders. There are so many pros and cons to both. I think experiencing how ‘fun’ social media once was, makes it difficult to accept the current state of affairs. I try my best to support those I follow with my interactions (likes/comments/share) while also staying true to myself and in my lane.

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      LaQuilia, I love everything you said—and the “early settlers” point really resonates with me. Your intentionality around social is inspiring, and checking your feed/notifications every other day seems like a smart, healthy way to engage. I’ll be curious to hear how your 2021 unfolds with this level on intentionality. Thank you for sharing!

  • Steve Reply

    I’m one of the few in my generation that is, for the most part, not on social media. I have a LinkedIn account though I decline 90%+ of the invites to connect that I receive (anyone I don’t know). No twitter, no Facebook (to be fair, I signed up under my dog’s name to participate in your non-fiction book school). As I contemplate how to grow as a thought leader in my industry, I’ve been thinking about jumping into the social media pond. That sad, I’m concerned it will consume me. It’s already difficult to control my urge to constantly check email … not sure what parameters I need to set for myself, but it’s clear that I need to set them before I begin to participate in social media. My favorite line from your post … “attention is the scarcest commodity these days” … aspiring to be wise and intentional about where I allocate my attention. Thanks for the post, it was thought provoking!

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      Thank you for these thoughts, Steve! You’re wise to set boundaries ahead of time. It’s a challenge to balance the desire to connect and impact with the need to be mentally clear and present. Like you, my attention can easily be pulled into email, social, or news, so I have to enact barriers to keep myself from falling down those rabbit holes. Both the podcast, Hidden Brain, and the documentary, The Social Dilemma, have influenced my behaviors and my understanding of the brain science behind social media and tech in general. If you do decide to join social, I’d love to know your strategies for engaging in a healthy way.

  • Larry Mandelberg Reply

    I created a Facebook account years ago when it was the only way to reliably communicate with my three sisters. I was never able to fully embrace the platform or any of the numerous others they all tried to get me “into.” For me, and my work, I find all these platforms FAR too urgent and in-the-moment for me. I need time to think and process, reflect and noodle on. In short, I need time, not immediacy. Social media demands, for me, immediacy. I don’t want to communicate with people who are thinking that shallowly or moving that fast without thinking. I respect your position and understand your circumstances have proprietary demands that may not allow you to leave social media permanently. Personally, I find that a shame. Good for you for trying.

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      “I need time, not immediacy”—this is profound, Larry. It resonates with me! Thanks for your thoughts, and for sharing your personal experience. As public as social media is, one’s relationship with it is private. We each have to sort what is right for us, for our businesses, and even for our relationships. I appreciate you sharing your perspective.

  • M Reply

    I’ve been off of all social media for about a year. Its toxic “comparing ” ways never failed to bother me. Constant notifications annoyed me. I just didn’t care about wasting time on it. I like existing in real life better. I’m glad no one on the internet and/or from my past is bothering me anymore.

    • Stacy Ennis Reply

      I absolutely agree with focusing on the present and the things that make you feel happy. Thank you for reading and sharing your perspective!

Leave a Reply to Roberta Sarver Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.