As some might have noticed (i’m sure less than I assume), I took a small break from social media- Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter. Exactly, 2 weeks ago, I decided to challenge myself with a small sabbatical.
Like giving up anything else that is considered a social norm – drinking, eating candy, etc – I knew it would draw the question, “Why?” To almost imply something is wrong with me to want to give up something that you can live without. So I decided to not tell anyone I was doing it. To answer the question, I did it because I needed to refresh my focus. Too often this year I’ve found myself just hopping from app to app, refreshing each feed, feeling the desire to carve out a “moment” to post. I also found myself becoming envious of others, even though I know everything that glitters isn’t gold. A lot of people aren’t who they post they are. Their life isn’t as glamorous as a picture may indicate, but even knowing that, I was still jealous. So I deleted every social media app from my phone and iPad.
The first few days were observational. I realized I would literally pick up my phone, unlock it to check for any alerts, at least 8 times per hour. Since I didn’t have any social media apps, I found myself checking for emails more often. Refreshing my inbox, like I would my timelines. I even laughed a few times because my hands were on auto-pilot and I would say to myself “WTF are you doing?”
After about the first few days, a weird thing happened to me. I didn’t know what it was initially and I didn’t even recognize it. My attention span was slowly coming back. I found myself with so much more time and I didn’t know what to do. Usually, I go through my daily routine, spend time on social media, and by the end of the day I feel accomplished but not really knowing how I spent my time. After cutting out the social media, I realized my daily routine usually only takes about 4 hours of my day! FOUR HOURS! Without the distraction of a like, or a tag or a message, I can be done with my daily routine in four hours.
During this time, I also was able to clear through the clutter that is the american media which is jumbled with social media news. I didn’t care about any celebrity’s new nose job, the Republicans crying foul over the debate situation or how people felt about whatever other nonsense they care about for less than 24 hours. I was able to disconnect and only indulge in news that I cared about. It made me realize how much bullshit I have to filter through on the daily basis. I am literally told what to care about. I realized my precious moments with my family were even more precious without taking out my camera. I was living in the moment and as long as I have my mind those memories will never fade.
I was able to read and not worry about checking for updates. I spent hours watching youtube clips and researching people like James Baldwin, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X and Dr. Umar Johnson. During this time, I was able to step back and reflect on everything from religion to cooking. I noticed that African-Americans have more controversial, scandalous content available to the masses, in particular on syndicated radio. I was also able to focus on projects without the influence of being distracted or deterred by what I don’t have.
I think I’ll do another sabbatical next year. With the holidays coming up, I do enjoy sharing those photos. Maybe next year, i’ll do a full 30 days, or maybe i’ll do two-week breaks more often. If it doesn’t do anything else, it definitely preserves my data.