Last week, I made a commitment to unplug for a few hours each night. Honestly, I didn’t go all out on my commitment. For example, I didn’t pledge to stay away from all social media, all day for the whole week. I knew that would be difficult impossible. So, instead, I chose to stay away from social media in the late evening. I didn’t think it would be a problem for me to put away my phone and/or computer for a couple of hours each night. I was wrong, very wrong. It was extremely hard to unplug even for a couple of hours each night.
Here’s how it went. The first night, I told my husband what I was doing. I announced, “I am not going to use social media tonight from 9:00 – 11:00 PM. In my mind, social media was Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. He was happy and quickly started a video he wanted me to watch that had been shared with him. After 15 minutes, it suddenly dawned on me that YouTube might be Social Media. So I quickly grabbed my computer and googled, “Is YouTube S… Before I could even complete the “S”, up came “Is YouTube Social Media”. The answer was a resounding “Yes”. My first day was a “fail”.
Day two was difficult because I had not had time during that particular day to check Social Media and kept reaching for my phone in the late evening. I felt like an addict, reaching for my phone and putting it away over and over again. I made it through that evening without getting on Social Media, but I decided to go to bed early, just so I wouldn’t have to think about it.
After the first couple of days, I was able to fill my evenings with much more valuable projects and activities. One night I finished reading a book I had started. Another night, I spent time cooking to get ready for the Holiday, one night I played cards with family and then on the final night we went to a movie. After three or four days, I didn’t crave looking at social media and I felt a lot better about how I spent my time.
There were a few important lessons I learned while trying to unplug from social media.
- Social media is everywhere. It’s not just Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
- Unplugging is hard. Checking social media is ingrained in us. We check it too often and ignore the people and relationships right around us.
- We can recapture quite a bit of time for all the things we say we don’t have time to do. Reading, talking, painting, meditating and listening to music are worthwhile activities and after being unplugged, I had time to do those things.
- Spending time on social media is a big waste of valuable time. I was able to enjoy 12 extra hours of downtime, since I unplugged from social media last week.
Last week I unplugged because of a class assignment. I don’t think I would have seen the value in unplugging without actually HAVING to do it. It’s hard to grasp how much time we waste while being constantly plugged into our phones and computers. Last week I unplugged because I needed to complete an assignment. This week I will choose to unplug in the evening. I have a lot of things I want to do. Charles Buxton said, “You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it. Unplugging for a week helped me to make time.