Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Social Media Cleanse

Last Thursday, I'd had it with social media. I just wanted to escape, to not be constantly "in touch" with everyone. To be honest, I feel addicted to checking Twitter and Facebook statuses, and that scares me.

Plus, I have a novel to write, and social media and mindless Internet surfing is a huge time suck.

If I want to be serious about this writing career, that means I have to take a good, hard look at how I spend my time.

So on Friday, I announced that I was taking a social media break for the weekend.

When Saturday morning dawned, I resisted the impulse to check Facebook and Twitter. It wasn't easy. I use both networks to communicate with a lot of different people - my family, co-workers, fellow World War II historians, and other writers. But I also knew that if they needed to get in touch with me and it was urgent, they either had my phone number or email address.

All day yesterday, I worked on my novel. During the times when it was difficult, I wanted to click onto Facebook or Twitter, but I refused to allow myself to slip. This was novel time, not social media time. Isn't my creative process worth more than endless hours spent on social media? Absolutely.

Today was easier. Yes, I still wanted to check my Facebook and Twitter, but I didn't. Instead, I opened the Word document of my novel and got back to work.

Of course, I didn't just write this weekend. I spent time with my husband and my daughter, too. I also took a nap!

It's 6:20 on Sunday evening, and here's what I've learned:

1) I rely on Facebook and Twitter to stay current on what's happening in the world and with family and friends.

2) At first, I felt like I was letting people down by not being "available", but then I realized I was not beholden to anyone but myself. It's okay not to be available 24/7. It's okay to not know what everyone else is doing via FB or Twitter. There's a certain liberation about it.


3) I felt disconnected at first, like I was missing out. We've become so conditioned now to know everything that's going on all the time that not being plugged into our social media network is almost like falling off the grid. And frankly, that's a little sad, isn't it? But it's also the reality of our world. This isn't the days of the telegraph or the Pony Express. We're far, far from it.

4) Forbidding myself from social media freed me up to focus on my fiction. Before, when I hit a particular rough spot, I would click on my FB or Twitter and browse for awhile. Then I'd go back to my story. I'd do this several times in an hour. I realized that this is an avoidance issue. I'm avoiding working on something difficult in my story by clicking on FB or Twitter. Instead, it's better to face it and deal with it. With no social media to fall back on, I became much more focused on my novel.

5) I'm on the computer all day at work. Social media is a small part of my job, too, so I can't abandon it during the week days. BUT, I can abandon it on the weekends and survive.

My fiction is too important for me to relegate it to the sidelines like I've been doing. I've put social media before my first love - writing fiction. No more! I hope to make my weekends as free of social media as possible because my writing is worth it.

Have you ever taken
a break from social media?

13 comments:

  1. I know this exact feeling!! I kept checking social media during rough points in my writing, and it took me six hours to write 4-8 pages!!!! When I finally scolded myself and shut off the internet, I wrote at my normal pace. Internet addiction is real. :*(

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    1. I completely agree with you. It is VERY real. When I finally got back on social media this morning, I feel like I didn't miss much. So hopefully I'll be able to stay off it from now on when I'm writing.

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  2. I do this all of the time, on a fairly regular basis—there may not be an announcement, but it's so much better to just not visit Twitter or Pinterest (even if I post things there, which is easy to do without actually BEING there). It's SO easy to lose hours on these sites! There's nothing wrong with them, and as you note they can be helpful and an especial relief for those of us who are homebound, but...well. They're like chocolate. Everything in moderation!

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    1. The Internet is such a double-edged sword. I love it and hate it at the same time!

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  3. I know what you mean. When social media first came out, I was on it every day. Eventually I found myself feeling burned out on occasion and noticed when I took vacations I didn't want to log back on when the vacation was done. That's when I decided I had a growing addiction and likened the feeling to symptoms of withdraw. Since then I've limited my time on social media to twice a week. It's the same way with network and cable news--the headlines repeat all day long, and sometimes for days. So I have found that turning on the news a couple times a week keeps me informed--and most of the time makes me angry, but less often--but it's sufficient to keep me current without the constant feeling of being caught up in the continuous flow of negative information. And when I want a complete update on the blogs I follow, I just pop over to their page and read my fill, as I'm doing now :-) I have to admit, I do enjoy your posts, Melissa. But I don't catch every single one of them. And that's okay too. I hope you find a happy medium that allows that wonderful creative flow to go unimpeded. I miss reading your work!

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    1. Thanks for such a great comment, Yvonne. It was a much-needed break and I'm so glad I did it. I loved just focusing on my fiction. I hope I can make this "the norm" for my weekends. :)

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  4. I frequently tell myself to take a break from social media and it has been difficult. Since I use it for my website also, it gives me more of an excuse to check it. When I first started my job back in August, I completely forgot about Facebook and rarely went on it. However, my job now involves reaching out via social media so I feel like I am constantly on it. I have found that I too use it to avoid doing other things that are difficult or require a lot of concentration.

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    1. Jess, it is super hard to stay away from it when it's part of your job. That's why I decided I had to stop being on it so much on the weekends. I hope I can do more of that - maybe just a quick check of each once a day on Saturday and Sunday, but that's it.

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  5. I know several people who don't do any social media at weekends. I'm not that bound up in it,but I think it's important to have that balance.

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    1. I sometimes wish I'd never gotten on FB or Twitter, but I've been able to make so many wonderful connections that I don't regret it. :)

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  6. I know exactly how you feel. I often get very fed up with Twitter and Facebook as it drains my time and productivity but I constantly feel the urge and need to be on Twitter otherwise I feel as though I am being left out. I often take breaks and after the first few days it feels great - but then I always come back :)

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    1. Yes! It's like we've been trained to believe that we are missing out if we step back for a few days. Amazing how much social media has conditioned us to think differently. Amazing ---and scary! Thanks for stopping by, Ross!

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  7. I've slowly weaned myself off social media... I only check it two or three times a week now. Things have really shifted in my life in the past six months, (for the good, I think? - I made a nervous decision to start homeschooling my girls in addition to a part time job, I wasn't sure if it would work but it's actually turned into a very enjoyable blessing). But the result of the extra responsibility meant social media just sort of fell by the wayside. My writing also fell off for a while but picked back up in November thanks to NaNoWriMo. It did really bother me that I would use social media as avoidance, I knew I didn't need to be checking it all the time but I couldn't stop, so I like that it sort of "naturally" declined!

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