Preparing for the connection component of our upcoming Rakta Fall Challenge, I decided to experiment with a social media break. It would be a pre-determined short-term break-up. I was testing the hypothesis that so many of my parent-friends allude to: if I removed Facebook from my phone and stopped habitually scrolling, then I would: 1) increase my productivity; 2) improve my mental health; and 3) re-establish my sense of self.
I’ve been in a 10 year relationship with Facebook. I love the cute animal pictures, the funny and heroic animal videos, and keeping up with friends and family (especially those far away). But the connection to others is an empty or pseudo connection. I feel more like a voyeur in others’ lives, sometimes liking posts and pictures or commenting on them, but mostly just peeking without really committing. I don’t have time to reach out to all my friends sharing pictures of their trips, kids, and funny or special moments, and it makes me sad to realize how disconnected I’ve become.
Starting a business is an incredibly vulnerable experience. Since I opened Rakta, I felt a shift and a need for more personal privacy. I no longer wanted to share many pictures of my personal life and decided to use social media primarily for business. As much as I love smiling faces of my friends enjoying the outdoors and going on adventures together, I found myself feeling sad after scrolling through Facebook. I didn’t realize how much these feelings stayed with me during my day, sometimes impacting my general perspective and overall satisfaction for hours.
Day one of taking the app off my phone, I felt relieved. I didn’t miss it at all. A burden had been lifted, I immediately felt free, and my productivity went up. If I wanted to see friends’ smiling faces, I made a point to meet up with them in person. If I wanted to hear their voices and talk about something in particular, I called them. The pictures I took of my friends and family stayed private. They were just for me.
After being off social media for over a week, I decided to check in and see how I was doing, what kind of progress I made, and what I missed. Right away, I fell hard into the casual scrolling trap. I wasn’t getting as much done and I was losing my focus. I quickly determined that keeping social media off my phone was a better way to go—for me.
In our fall challenge, I’ll ask people to check in with their electronic relationships, especially their relationships with social media. Why and how do you engage? What does it do for you? How much is necessary and how much is too much? Just as I encourage curiosity and observation with movement and food in our bodies, I encourage you to take an intense look at social media and the effect digital platforms may have in your lives. Is hyper-connection creating more positive opportunities? How do we hold space where there is no real privacy or safe place? Depending on how we use digital apps, are our thoughts, opinions, and values changing?
For our Rakta Fall Challenge, let’s “yoga” the digital world. Let’s watch how we react to social media and technology, understand why we crave it, and figure out who we are when it’s in front of us and who we are when it’s not.
In light and love,