Quitting Social Media

Well I am not exactly quitting. Not entirely anyway.

There’s a number of reasons behind this. The foremost is that I had been getting far too distracted by social networks in recent months to the point that I found it difficult to do much of anything without having a smartphone or tablet or computer in front of me. I’d be in the middle of a conversation and out will come my phone. Rude, I know. It became nearly unmanageable.

Then I saw a Ted Talk held by a guy that purported that we should in fact quit social media. I wanted to. I wanted to so badly. Despite the momentary flicks of enjoyment that I might get in seeing a few random status updates, I just didn’t honestly see value in my staying online with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. There is a value… but I’ll get to that in a bit.

This multimedia, social networking institution has impacted me negatively in a lot of ways. My concentration is off. My ability to focus into my writing has suffered. Listening to a person during a conversation without wondering if I can sneak a peek at my phone is a chore. I pick up my phone rather than write or draw. And whatever happened to scribbling when I was bored. Hell, most of my poems I wrote when I was younger was a response to boredom. I recognized these all as problems building up to bigger issues over time. It might be innocent in the moment, but after some time, a dripping faucet can flood a house.

I haven’t run time studies on it. If I were to, I am sure that I would find an absurd amount of time being dedicated to effectively nothing. When am I supposed to get time to myself to write, meditate, read, draw, or anything when I am burning it up just to distract my mind?

Additionally, the recent binge reading I’ve been having on self-help style books such as “The Way of the Superior Man,” “The Right Questions,” and “Flow,” social networking was being demonstrated as an evil that I could not afford to give power to.

So when I got home from work on Thursday 10/27, I put my phones down and vowed to drop social networking. Aside from brief stints on Facebook to approve posts to my profile I was tagged in (being honest more with myself, that is all I did), I managed to ignore social media altogether so far.

But it hasn’t all been easy. I have a constant compulsion to grab my phone and open apps. I want to jump on Instagram to see the latest snaps. I want to blindly scroll through Facebook to pass my boredom. And then I tend to write most proficiently on a computer, so there is always that urge to minimize Word, or Google docs and click the link to the next distraction. Even the other night I had a dream where I was fighting with myself about checking Instagram, and how I should reward myself for “good behavior.” Yeah. I am an addict. This is my withdrawal.

I’ve seen this behavior from me in the past. I’ve tried to cut back in the past. Hell, I’ve even deleted profiles in the past. I feel that this is the wrong approach though. Cutting back, deleting profiles, or setting an allotted time each day to surf my newsfeeds wouldn’t serve me any justice.

I need to have the stuff right in front of me, taunting me. I need to beat it while it tempts me to succumb to its siren call.

Because there is the good in social media I wish to use.

It can be a tool. When used properly, it is a highly effective means of communication. Improper use leads to the issues I stated above. And when trying to create a career as a novelist, not having some sense of a social media presence is absurd. Possible, but absurd and less likely.

The problem is how do I manage this without falling back into the trap? I almost feel like a recovering alcoholic bartender. I need a way to be around the stuff without allowing myself to succumb to the temptation to relapse. I might be looking at a week of success, even while having access, but there is always that looming threat.

I can tell you one thing though: I don’t feel as though I am truly missing anything. And already I have been seeing little signs that I can concentrate more. I can remain present in a conversation.

Someday soon I will return, particularly when I release my next stories in the coming weeks. Until then, and even during then, I will continue to push to not allow it to regain the hold it had a week ago.

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