I wanted 2014 to be better.
To kick things off at the top of the year with a clearer mind, I came up with the idea to fast from social media. I had a bad morning and afternoon on New Years Eve and this ultimately led me to deactivate my Twitter and Facebook pages a day before I intended. I also removed Instagram from my phone.
There were no fireworks or round of applause for unplugging. And honestly I didn’t feel any immediate effects. Maybe it was all in my head that social media had any impact on my day-to-day productivity.
But slowly but surely, every time I had the urge to scroll a timeline, I saw that most times I had no real reason to.
I follow 1,000 plus people on Twitter, mainly because I like the chatter and variety of news I can get quickly from various people. It helps me stay up on what’s going on, a trait every journalist needs to have.
But skimming statuses would usually turn into mindless chatter on my part because I felt I needed to respond to everything. Even if I didn’t tweet it, I would think on it way more than I liked.
I’d also get caught up clicking on Vines, videos, photos, self-help articles full of garbage advice, and funny hashtags. Then I’d want to share it. Minute by minute time is wasting. Then I’d completely forget the task at hand. This was a distraction to my writing. It only added to my procrastination.
I was NOT focused!
And that is a problem. As I broke down my goals for the New Year, “Focus” became my word for 2014. As they say, “new level, new devil.” If you want to make a real effort to push yourself up in life, you have to lose things that no longer add value to it. Even if you get the opportunity to transcend your present space, you’ll be knocked right back because you didn’t address your weaknesses first.
For my seven days away, I was able to move ahead in two side projects that have been sitting on my heart for the past three years. Also I read a few more pages in The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings by James Baldwin. I connected with the text of his speech “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity.” He writes:
“…I do have a typewriter which is my torment but is also my work. If I can survive it, I can always go back there, and if I’ve not turned into a total liar, then I can use it and prepare myself in this way for the next inevitable and possibly fatal disaster. But if I find that hard to do — and I have a weapon which most people don’t have — then one must understand how hard it is for almost anybody else to do it at all.”
Even though here he talks about the struggle with remaining true to his work without losing his self in the pressure of being what “they” want him to be, it related it to my love/hate relationship with social media.
I can’t delete my social media pages altogether because as a rising creative I need and want to be visible to share my latest work. I realize that this is a choice but one that is extremely important to me. But I don’t want to lose myself in the flurry of thoughts.
As Baldwin says, this is part of the “torment” I face with choosing how I should engage on a daily basis. This makes it hard and sometimes I do get discouraged, but who said it would be easy?
Upon returning to the social digital realm, my mind feels good. I needed to feel life again without the urge to share, share, and share. I was reminded that some experiences don’t need to be posted for me to remember them. I have a memory that collects them just fine.
I’m always looking for balance and this may mean different things as I get older. But I’m glad that I listened to my intuition and let go for a few days.
I definitely feel closer to myself and look forward to my breakthroughs in 2014.
Photo Credit: John_A_Ward
Have you thought about fasting from social media or done so before? Share your thoughts on your experience below.