I am an obsessive sort of person. I have an addictive personality. I am prone to anxiety and panic attacks. I can be manic one second, and depressive another. All of these things make it very easy for me to have on-going chatter in my head. It gets loud in there sometimes. Especially at night.
I always have my phone with me, but I rarely use it as a phone. I know. I will send text messages more often than placing a voice call. I don’t like talking to people on the phone. I mostly use my phone for my camera, and a few games. And, like so many other people in the world, social media.
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc) is an extremely loud universe. And it is super easy for an obsessive, addictive person to get sucked in and drown from information over-load. The thing is, 99.9% of that information isn’t actually informative – or relevant.
I go through phases where my Facebook and Twitter feeds annoy the crap out of me. 9 out of 10 updates I see make me irrationally angry. I flirt with deleting my account, or deleting people from my friends list. I mute people, and hide them from my feed. I am not someone who wants to read political, religious, hot-topic posts (and the inevitable arguments that follow). I don’t want to see photos of abused animals, children, or adults. I like seeing photos of your life. I like seeing photos of your pets. I like funny jokes.
Though I have to say, following so many people, brands, and media outlets, things get awfully noisy in my brain. I carry annoyance and anger with me to bed, even though I might have read whatever it was that annoyed me hours before. I scroll through feeds while travelling to and from work. While waiting for, well, anything. Waiting for an appointment. Waiting for the elevator. Waiting for food I ordered to arrive at my table.
But why? Why am I cluttering up my brain with all of this useless stuff? Granted, it’s easier for me to glance at my phone for snippets of other people’s lives while on the bus, than it is for me to read. I get extremely motion sick on the bus (or any moving vehicle, except for trains!) and I cannot read a book. So short bursts from Twitter or Facebook are sort of easy to digest.
Lately I have been finding myself becoming more and more annoyed by what I am reading online. So I made a decision – I do not need to be connected to social media 24/7. This isn’t a huge revelation. This isn’t some epiphany. It’s just the right time to step back and declutter my head. I have enough in my brain that I don’t need to add more voluntarily. I can actually DO something about this, and so, I did.
I deleted most social media apps from my phone. I have a pretty empty front screen right now, and it makes me happy. The only social media apps I kept are Instagram (I need my daily photos of cute Finnish Lapphunds, Boston Terriers, the occasional little human), and Goodreads (because I don’t actually follow anyone on there, and I like it for book recommendations!). That’s it. Not that I had many Social media apps on my phone to begin with. Facebook and Twitter are gone. I can’t check in and snoop into other’s lives whenever I want now. I actually have to log in to both sites on an actual computer. Which means I am limited to work & home. I will generally keep a tab open at work so I can check in once in a while when I need a little break. At home, I have become less and less inclined to even open up my laptop when I get home from work. I putter around online on the weekends. But other than that? Nothing.
So my phone is decluttered (I am very OCD about what I have on my phone, and where I have it) and my mind is slightly less cluttered as well because of this.
And how has it been going? The first morning I left for work without these apps on my phone (July 29) it felt…strange. I didn’t miss browsing the feeds so much as I sort of felt like I left the house without putting on my pants. I could play my games, and browse my one news app. I closed my eyes and snoozed on my way into town. I didn’t log into either site until I was at work for a couple of hours. When I did check in, I realized that not much had changed since the day before. I wasn’t missing anything.
That’s just it – you don’t miss anything. The same people will post the same things over and over. Even I do it. I post photos of my dogs in my sleep, I do it so often. Facebook won’t even show you the same stuff from one device to another. You can refresh your page and get completely different stories, even if you ask for Most Recent over Most Popular.
I wasn’t missing anything and my brain was a tiny bit quieter. Brilliant!
I’m not quite a week into having a social media-free phone and I haven’t missed them all that much. The only time I have missed them are on my insomnia nights. I don’t feel like going all the way downstairs to fire up my laptop, so I miss absentmindedly scrolling through other peoples’ lives to try and zone back out. Granted, it’s likely way more helpful to me to NOT be browsing Facebook or Twitter in the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep. But that is really the only time I have missed most of these apps. Even Buzzfeed and Imgur. Those two apps (and sites) can make hours of your life vanish.
So I have stepped back from socializing online for a while. Will I put these bad boys back on my phone one day? Maybe. Who knows. Probably. I’m not really thinking of that right now. I’m more focused on helping myself through a rough patch and making sure I am healthy for the future. So for now, these apps stay off my phone. I’m not removing social media from my life completely, I am just limiting the hold it wants to have over me.
I am even ready to face the onslaught of comments about this post from people who will boast they do not let social media run their lives, and that smart phones are dumb, and so on. But I’ll only see those when I choose to log in to one of those sites, because I won’t be reading them on my phone. 😉
Try it. Declutter your mind and phone. It’s as easy as hitting delete!