Thinking about quitting social media?
The other week I wrote about the importance of making intentional choices.
So I thought this would be a good time to finally write about a choice that I made over two years ago that I get asked about a lot.
The choice to stop using social media.
I stopped using social media.
Oh, you didn't get that Google alert? I stopped using social media at the end of 2020.
As in, I haven’t used Facebook or Instagram since December of 2020.**
**That’s a tiny fib. I created a dummy account with a fake name, so that I can access a Facebook group that helps me troubleshoot tech issues on the platform I use to host my courses.
Tik Tok is a mystery to me (as well it should be for most people old enough to have earnest conversations about the best way to survive routine colonoscopy prep).
So, yeah, no posting or commenting for 26+ months.
I’ve been trying to write something meaningful about this for the past year, but I can never think of anything new to say about this.
It’s all been said:
Social media felt toxic, took up a lot of my time, clouded my thinking with too much info for my brain to process in a meaningful way, was a way to avoid doing or feeling important things (including boredom), and often made me feel bad about myself.
In the past, I’ve written about taking breaks from social media, changing my feed, etc.
In the end, that wasn’t enough.
So I chose to leave social media entirely.
I’ve said it before and I really mean this: I can only do a few things well each day.
I can give a solid webinar, answer all my emails, take my dog for a walk, talk with my husband, and read a book.
But if I add in posting/reading/commenting/scrolling social media, one of those things either doesn’t get done or gets done poorly.
At this point in my life, I would rather do only a few things well, than a lot of things half-assed.
Back to choices:
For years I told myself the story that I didn’t have a choice. I believed that I had to be on social media for my business.
But eventually I started to question this big assumption that shaped my life.
I began to look for evidence that there were self-employed people with successful businesses who did not use social media.
In 2020, there weren’t a lot, but there were a few.*
*In the past two years, more and more of the writers and teachers I follow (via their newsletters - which I actually read, now that I don't see their social posts), have also made the choice to stop using social media, at least temporarily.
So, I looked for other evidence that I could make a living without promoting my work on any social media platforms.
I dug into where my paying work comes from and, overwhelmingly, it’s through word of mouth and repeat business (as in: someone takes a class with me at UFL and then hires me to give a webinar at their shelter and later purchases self-study courses for their staff).
Really, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
Turns out, I got almost NO paying work through my posts on social media.
I did make friends, connect with wonderful people, and offer and receive support.
Social media was, at times, a positive part of my life. I’m not saying it’s all bad.
I’m just saying that when I challenged my core assumption - that I couldn’t run a business without social media - I found lots of evidence that I could.
So I did.
And nothing bad happened.
My business is doing well (thank you again!).
My personal life is exactly as hermit-licious as it ever was.
It’s certainly possible that one day I’ll choose to use social media again.
If I do, then it will be a conscious choice, not because it’s a habit I resent.
Between me and you though, I NEVER miss it.
Okay, fine. I miss memes. I’m only human.
Otherwise, I rarely ever think about it. I often forget it exists.
Which is kind of like living in a time machine. My world operates without that new fangled invention all the teens are talking about!
I also have a regular alarm clock and wristwatch.
What can I say, I really liked the 90s. Now, if someone could just point me towards the nearest Radio Shack, my beeper needs a new case…
Point is, living this way works really well for me.
It might not be the right choice for you.
But here’s the bigger question that I hope you’ll pause to consider:
How do you want to spend your limited time on this earth?
Are you choosing to use your time doing something that you don’t want to do?
If so, check your assumptions about why you “have to” do it.
Are you assuming it’s required in order for you to be successful or good or respectable or productive?
Then you may want to start challenging that story.
Collect some evidence that undermines that assumption.
Experiment with doing or not doing that thing, even just a little.
See what happens.
You can always go back to the way things were!
If you do, it will be an intentional choice, rather than an unconscious habit.
Or maybe you’ll choose not to go back.
Either way, the choice is yours.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” - Annie Dillard
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