30 Days Without Social Media

It's someday in late August. I've been home for at least 3 hours and it dawns on me that I have done nothing productive other than catch up on my social media (also known as: social). Mind you, I caught up on my feeds in the morning, throughout the day and though I am not proud to admit it, in traffic on the way home. I recently read an article that stated people under the age of 35 generally spend about 4 (3.8 if you're into to specifics) hours a day on social media. But for me, I was clocking in way above that.

Let's discuss:

  • On an average day, I wake up around 6am and IMMEDIATELY let the pups out (I have a 4 month old puppy and cannot stress the importance of IMMEDIATELY letting this dog out)
  • 6:30 - 8:00 am - Sit in the living room or office on social media. 1.5 HOURS
  • 8:00 - 8:30am - Hop up and rush to get dressed. 
  • 9:00am - Report to work. Grab some tea, check an email or two, crack some jokes with my coworkers... check social media. 
  • Throughout the day, I am sporadically checking social when I feel that I have a "down moment". Let's say that this adds up to a total amount of time of 2 HOURS. 
  • 6:30pm - Get home and once again, IMMEDIATELY let the pups out (No seriously, it's vital). 
  • 7:00 - 9:00pm - "Catch up" on social media. 2 HOURS
  • 9:00pm - Start cooking. I generally hop on Snapchat for a segment that I call #CookingWithVina. My followers love it. I love it. But it's time consuming and ultimately doubles the time that it takes me to actually cook the meal because of course I am checking social media while I am "tapping". So... 2 HOURS. 
  • 11:00 - 11:30pm - Straighten up the kitchen, read a little bit, go to bed. 
  • 11:30pm - until I pass out - Check social media. Let's say 1 HOUR.

Total hours on an average day on social: 8 (EIGHT!!) and a half hours.

That's a full time job... PLUS lunch. 

& I am not getting paid for it. 

It wasn't until the next day, when I read an article about a 29-year-old woman who lives her life social media free because she has "all these books she had to read", that I realized that I was wasting too much time on social. Like her, I have an ongoing list of books I want to read that could be tackled if I spent less time on social media. 

She is currently going 7 years without social media. Surely I could last at least 30 days.

So at 12:18am on September 1, 2016 I texted all my passwords (Pinterest included) to my bestie to be changed and deleted all my apps from my phone. For the next 30 days I would be social media free:

No Facebook.

No Instagram.

No Twitter. 

No Snapchat.

Here's what happened. 

What I Learned

Initially, when I first started this experiment, I thought the reason why I wasn't getting anything done was due to my "addiction" to social media.  There are literally so many articles out there like this one and this one, that explain how social media affects our brains like a drug. I mean science backed it up so it must be true, right?

Wrong. 

The reason I wasn't getting anything done, wasn't due to this loosely researched "addiction" to social media, it was my own a lack of self-discipline to get OFF of social media, if I am being 279% honest. On the first 2 days, my fingers automatically would go to the spots where the apps were on my phone, but by day 3, living without social media was a breeze. That confirmed to me that, it wasn't social media that was the problem it was me. It was always me. 

Another eye opener that I got from living without social media was that I was completely disconnected from the world. Being completely transparent, I get about 89% of the news from social media (mainly Twitter, the other 11% from The Skimm). You know what that leaves me with? 89% of news that comes from the biased opinions of the curated people I follow. That's like watching Fox News all day and then switching to MSNBC for 30 minutes for a second opinion. 

That. Is. A. Problem. 

I used to pride myself on being "in the know". 

I am educated. 

I am well read. 

I care about what's going on around the world.

I can hold a conversation on issues going on here and abroad.

And that all stopped when I deleted Twitter.

The MOMENT I deleted Twitter, I disconnected myself from the issues that are going on around the world. Not because Twitter is an amazing source to catch the news, but because I used Twitter as my ONLY source of world information which caused me to have extremely limited thinking based off the opinions of the people that I follow (Do better Vina).

Last, I was shocked to learn that my life touched many more lives, than I anticipated. I thought my exit off of social media would be quiet and not many people would notice, and boy was I wrong. I obviously don't carry the weight of influence that Oprah or even Donald Trump carries, however I do touch lives without realizing it. So many people have told me about the meals they have cooked because of me. Or the books they're reading. The podcasts they listen to now. The brand of tea they buy. Or the sunrises that they catch because of me. Though small, it reminds me that people are always watching and you never know how you're inspiring others by how you live. 

What I Accomplished

My 30 days without social media left me feeling refreshed. I feel like less "cluttered" and weighed down by the shortcomings in the world. That in itself feels like an accomplishment to me. The whole point of this experiment was to see how much I could get done in a month off of social media. I wish I could write this post stating that within the 30 days I: wrote a best-selling memoir, ended police brutality against minorities and single-handedly found the cure for cancer and the common cold. But I didn't and I'm okay with that. Here are some things that I did accomplish that I am particularly proud of though:

  • I read 8 (EIGHT!) books last month. I generally average around 3-4 books a month, so to double that is a personal best.
    • Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps
    • The Book Thief
    • The Woman in Cabin 10
    • Bridget Jones' Diary
    • Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person
    • The Underground Railroad
    • Breakfast at Tiffany's
    • Brain on Fire (still reading, but I'm counting it because this is my blog and I do what I want)
  • I FINALLY created a Bucket List. 
  • Mike surprised me with a Couple's Massage. 
  • We went to the park with the pups. 
  • I started wedding planning (8 months later)
  • I got a Florida license plate.
  • I registered to vote. 
  • I started writing again. 

What's Next?

I am back on social media. Happily. I missed the people that inspire me. I miss seeing the stuff that my friends do all day.

Will I do another social media binge anytime soon. Probably not. But, will I limit the amount of time that I spend on it throughout the day? Absolutely. 8 hours is just too much time to spend on social media.

Unless you're getting paid for it. Then, you can spend as much time as you need on social. 

For me, I will start working on this self discipline thing next. Waking up earlier than needed. Hitting the gym when I don't want to. Creating more time for creativity. 

As my 30 days without social media came to a close, I realized that this wasn't "The Answer" to my productivity, but the catalyst. It was the kick start and reset that I needed and glad I took. 

Makes me wonder what I could do next.... with another 30 days.