My personal social media detox path started when I began the process of decluttering my home. As I rummaged throughout various rooms and closets, throwing out what no longer served me felt symbolic.
Differentiating trash from treasure, in my home, created a need to carry out the same process in other areas of my life. After feeling as if a burden were being lifted, I thought it would be a good time to also declutter my mind.
Unbeknownst to me, I had been moving toward this process for a couple of months.
I actually started, weeks earlier, with a diet of intermittent social media fasting — which involved no social media before a certain time in the morning.
How we start the day sets the tone. I didn’t want my days to start with my checking my phone.
From there, I moved to only being on several times a day, at scheduled times, for a prescribed amount of time. This move was suggested in one of my favorite books to enhance productivity and execution, The 12 Week Year.
For me, my initial two-day fast meant taking a break from social media — making a conscious effort to live life disconnected from the lives others are living.
It meant enjoying and appreciating my own thoughts rather than reading someone else’s. It’s amazing how something so natural can feel so novel.
The first thing I noticed was a sense of relief. I was expecting more resistance from myself. I was expecting to feel the need to check for new comments or posts — but there was nothing but a sense of peace.
What I soon began to notice was how I would constantly and mindlessly pick up my phone.
As my arms and hands led the charge — my brain seemed to have been far removed from the consciousness of my actions. It was only after repeatedly (and compulsively) reaching for my phone, picking it up and searching for my icons that I began to wonder about what I was intending to do. Surely, I had a purpose.
I had long since disabled notifications on my phone — it felt a bit Pavlovian to respond to every ding or vibration. With my father having been a food and gambling addict, I was acutely aware of anything that threatened to control my behavior. Instead, I periodically checked for updates; though, I may have been better off just being notified.
Reflecting on those, almost mindless, moments caused me to realize I was reacting to my subconscious intentions. I was reminded of Napoleon Hill’s, Think and Grow Rich.
Mr. Hill discusses in detail how to program our subconscious mind to direct our intentions; however, I had never considered how paying attention to our automatic behaviors can give us insight into our unprogrammed subconscious intentions.
Am I intending to calm my anxiety?
Am I intending to connect socially?
Am I intending to escape a stressor?
Am I intending to be productive?
What’s Going On?
My social media apps had been deleted; BUT I flipped through other apps. I even compulsively checked my email. There was still the habit of reaching for the phone when I was bored or not occupied. As the day went on, I found that I became antsy and preoccupied with the device and the world it held.
I had never thought of myself as someone suffering from FOMO, but something was certainly going on. I was quickly learning that the initial diet of intermittent media fasting was a lot easier than the complete fast.
With the diet, I could count on those periods of time that I had allotted myself to scroll through my feed, leave comments and post. The fast offered no such luxury.
Just as I was starting to wonder how much longer I could extend my two-day abstention from social media, I decided to challenge myself.
“Could I go a week?” I wondered.
That question triggered another — “Why couldn’t I go a week?” It was as if I had convinced myself that I can’t live without it. That was troubling.
Stay tuned for Part 2.