Life lessons of a Social Media detox
by Jacqueline Smyth
Time and space are beautiful things… They tell you everything you want to know, they even tell you the things that you had no idea you needed to know.
When I had the inkling that I needed to take a step back, it was mostly because I could feel myself growing- and personally, I grow a lot more thoroughly when no one else is looking. I needed to reconfigure a bit, like another color needed to be shifted over on a rubix cube. And when the thought arose to spend some time away, I became really curious to see who I’d become, and more so, what would come up for me in the face of letting go of this aspect of my life?
What’s a habit? What’s an addiction? Would life be the same if I didn’t know that I’d need to post about it? Would I live as fully if nobody else was looking? Would I feel like a relevant human being?
I really wanted to know. I wanted to investigate.
We’re the first generation on this planet that even gets to ponder these questions. And more than ponder, I wanted to see the experiment through.
Warning: I did this for experiments sake, all that’s listed below are the underbelly qualities of how social media effects us all. We’re human, we have insecurities, doubts, fears, questions on worthiness. I did this so I could trace what was happening for me and I share it with you so if you have these qualities, as I do, you’ll know you’re not alone.
Without judgement, without comparison, without a need for likes… Enjoy ♥
lesson #1: if you’re separating from the pack, you’re dying right?
This was the first thing that really struck me. Nearly everyone that I ran into, or reached out due to my break thought that something was wrong with me. They’d greet me with an “Are you doing okay?” or “I’m here if you need me”, which was so strange it made me start to wonder if that was the case. Just because I didn’t want to post photos or dreamy quotes on a public platform I must be going through some crisis?
What I can tell you is that other people’s opinions actually did have an effect on me. When so many people asked me how I was with that warning sign of a tone, I did notice a shift for myself. It’s nuts. I started asking myself if I was okay, if there were some deep cuts that needed to be healed away from anyone seeing. And the answer, happily, turns out to be no. I just didn’t feel like doing it, I wasn’t inspired to, and so I granted myself permission to stop. I just wanted to enjoy myself and the things right in front of me. I started likening it to the behaviour of animals. Usually in pack life, if one wanders away by it’s lonesome, it’s separating in order to prepare to die.
Which I fucking hope isn’t true.
Sometimes when people need space, they just need space.
The truth is, other people’s impressions of me is not my business. Sincerely. What someone thinks of me, isn’t necessarily true. And that’s something that I’ve come to know very well. But it goes even deeper in an experiment like this because it’s so contained. When I saw such consistent reactions, I began to look at my own perspective of others. If others can’t tell what’s going on for me, then I don’t know what’s going on for anyone else, and if I want to? Maybe I should reach out and ask… (So taboo, I know)
What I got from this?
Ask more questions. Don’t assume. Be inquisitive if I’m interested, and by doing that? More connection. BINGO.
lesson #2: the grass is greenest where you water it.
This may be my favorite lesson. It’s a pretty simple one, but with that said, I’d have never seen it had I kept my eyes open to what others are doing. So, I like to be inspired. I like to look around and gravitate towards something, and most of the time it pushes me to create something of the same flavor. Put most simply, “I like that, and I want to do something like it.” Not consciously of course, but it pulls me.
Because I’m inspired by it.
However. When I stopped being overloaded by the images others were creating, I suddenly had an influx of ideas that were spurred by my own imagination. And imagination is like any muscle, it needs exercise, it needs to be fed, it needs rest.
And inadvertently I did all three.
What I got from this?
A break is a great time to water your own magical mental grass. Remember, it’s not greener on the other side, it’s greenest where you water it.
lesson #3: The quieter you become, the more you can hear.
Truth, in the most basic of forms. This kind of quiet took me away from instant gratification. Social media, and technology as a whole (if we’re not careful) fool us into thinking we’re more connected. The truth is we’re farther into our own little bubbles of what we prefer to see. And when you add in the aspect of voyeuristic tendencies, the past loves, the peeking, the stalking, the whatever… It gets really noisy.
So this kind of quiet brought a new introspection into who was really in my life. Who reached out to me, who I reached out to. Face to face connection. Hearing someone’s voice. Lunch dates. Sleep overs.
The time that was given to be with people I love, I was there and present for it.
What I got from this?
Quality over quantity. For the win.
lesson #4: there are times when taking cover is the smartest move you can make.
Holy moly, what a month. I didn’t’ mean to pick this month, I just went with it when intuition called and man, am I SO glad I picked up the phone.
First off… I totally cheated after the election. The weekend after I was way too curious to see what was going on and so I snooped. I can say with my whole heart that I instantly felt horrified. Maybe it’s a bit of me not having been on so again, all the quiet, but once I saw the kinds of posts that were up, the constant back and forth of arguments, bullying, and slander, it just instantly made me want to go to sleep. Like literally. I got really tired.
My opinion on this isn’t necessary here. I’m just so glad I didn’t have to take that in on a daily basis, and have such compassion that this is where we’re at in this time towards one another.
What I got from this?
If I post my opinion, even if it’s something that I know might upset a large amount of people? Not my job to bully them back. That’s what I saw. No connection. No win.
If you want to do a Social Media detox? Do it the month of the election. You will not be sorry.
lesson #5: uncover, keep uncovering, and then uncover some more.
So what exactly did I uncover about myself during my hiatus? Hmm… Good question.
I’m constantly uncovering things about myself. I liked being away, that’s a big one. I liked not having to think so much, I liked just being able to wake up and make my son breakfast and be there. Mentally and emotionally. I liked having my body and mind be in the same place at once, which is unfortunately becoming extinct nowadays. I valued that when it was time to come back, I wanted a little more space for myself. I valued that when I wanted that, I took it. I started viewing life more romantically, seeing the dots connect and the stars align again because my face wasn’t in my phone all day. My teaching got more concise, from the lesson plan, to the way I spoke during classes. I uncovered that being present has to come first, and putting it first takes dedication.
What I got from this?
That there will be times when I step away, maybe not for so long, but when I do? My work gets richer. I feel more alive. All in all, good vibes.
lesson #6: it doesn’t matter who you are,we all want to be liked.
As I mentioned above, when the month was over I got back on, and I realized that I wanted more time. I actually realized I was quite content not feeling the pressure. There’s a lot of judgement around Social Media. We judge others and compare ourselves, and even me brainstorming about my future posts became a competition with my own ego. Why, when I began to think of posting, did I immediately worry about it being good enough? And I did, I felt I needed to have this epic photo because I had been gone for that long and I wanted to prove I was doing something worthwhile. Something that made it glamorous and mysterious enough to impress people I don’t know. Hmm…
Ego is a funny thing. No one is immune to it.
Coming back wasn’t anything I had planned. I did an epic shoot, and have stunning photos from it. But there was one photo. Not the most dazzling or out there of the bunch. One rather unsuspecting photo that I loved and couldn’t stop looking at. It’s of me and a horse and for me at this point in my life, for some reason it just feels the most like myself. Romantic. Simple. I figured that’s perfect. It’s where I’m at and how I feel and so it’ll be great. And so one morning I woke up and wanted to. So I did.
What happened after was the interesting part.
I don’t know if i thought there would be a blast of confetti in my home or what, maybe a band could pop out of my closet, a parade down my street… something. Needless to say none of that happened.
If I’m honest, I wished that like a million people would’ve like it and suddenly it would be like walking into a surprise party for myself that I secretly knew was going to happen. It didn’t.
What I got from this?
I was about to get something out of this, something I wasn’t expecting… See below.
lesson #7: there is an unseen gift in giving, so just give.
So after that first post back, I literally had such intense anxiety. I felt like I hadn’t done it right, was the picture right, was the quote? Should I have done it in the afternoon or on another day? I started firing ammo at my own actions. And I felt TOTALLY defeated. like 100% not good enough, which I just thought, fuck, why did I even return to feel like this?
And I let it sit, as that’s my way of giving things and thoughts space to move and settle, and I 100% thought that I wouldn’t post again for who knows how long. I could go a week, nobody cares.
Pity parties are fun.
Later in the day, it happened to be the Full moon, and the night before I led a circle with my awesome Moon Tribe loves, and we did a ritual. The ritual was much needed, shook me, gave me tons of energy, and redirected my thought pattern… It also made me feel more powerful and aligned than I had in a long time.
I sat in my window, looking at the Full Moon rising, and it struck me right then that I wanted to give that to others. Suddenly, I wasn’t weighing out the options of should or shouldn’t, whether it would be good enough, I just wanted to share the ritual that I had done so others might feel the way I had the night before.
And so I did.
And this key component, shifted everything. I posted about it and ended up sending out over 200 rituals that night, and it gave me such a sense of connection, such a heart warming feeling of service. When you are in service, when you are giving of yourself it shifts the perspective. I suddenly didn’t care how many likes I got, it wasn’t even about me.
It was about what I could do for someone else. And that’s my arena.
That was the one key move that I hadn’t anticipated that shifted. I love being able to share. I love supporting others, and I loved that that many women under the same moon were calling out the same words.
I got it.
Sharing for me works best when I feel I’m being of service. Not everyone needs to be like that, it’s not better or worse, but it is what works for me in my life… It is what makes me feel comfortable and gets me out of my obviously active head. In the end, we help ourselves by helping others.
And that’s my new goal with Social Media. To reach out, instead of hoping, worrying and judging if people like me or not. I certainly didn’t think that was the lesson I’d learn… But I’m so glad I did.
This is what I got. If I only got one lesson from the whole month, this would be enough.
Cheers to not being afraid of stepping away, in the name of change, and growth, and transformation. Because we’re always doing all of these things…
Sometimes we just need to have the space to see it.
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