Last week, I traveled to New York City for work. Most of the time when I travel, I spend quite a bit of time posting to my Instagram stories, to document the entire experience. This trip, I decided to do something new. I decided to quit social media. I put my phone down, and actually live in moment, for once. Although I did take some photos and videos, I did not post to IG at all. It was so freeing. We all need to put our phones down more often.
Is Social Media Good for Us?
Lately, I’ve been questioning this whole social media culture and influencer lifestyle. Although I absolutely love the opportunities blogging provides me (trips to places like Turks and Caicos and Disneyland, clothes and so much swag), but I also have realized that I haven’t been living my life very much the last few years. I spend so much time on Instagram, my blog, and other social media sites, that I hardly ever experience the moment.
Last weekend in New York reminded me just how good it can feel to put down my phone, be present, and stop worrying about documenting everything. I was able to enjoy time with my friends and really enjoy the city again.
I’m really starting to question the value of our cell phones and constant connection through social media. Sure, I see some value. The other day, my son asked me how we used to get around without google maps. I had to pull out an ancient atlas we had in our book shelf to show him what paper maps look like. I can distinctly remember my first trip to New York in 2002, when I did carry around a little pocket map to figure out the subway system and walk around the city. It’s pretty amazing how much has changed in 15+ years. So yes, access to information is good, but not at the expense of my mental health.
Instagram Makes Me Self-Critical
There are a few things that I think social media has done for me that aren’t so good. It’s made me much more self-critical. I actually wrote about it last year. I notice every wrinkle, every bulge, every imperfection. It’s also nearly impossible not to compare myself to other people. I spend a lot of time connecting with my followers and other bloggers, so I’m constantly seeing what everyone else is doing. I don’t think it’s very good for my self-esteem. There are several articles that talk about social media’s ill effects on our mental health.
I Miss The Moment Because I’m On My Phone
I also think social media has taken me completely out of the moment. Most of the time, I hardly ever experience the moment, because I’m worried about capturing the perfect picture. Even in New York – although I didn’t post constantly or take photos constantly, I still took some. Rather than focusing on the gorgeous fountain in Washington Square Park or the cool sculpture near Rockefeller Center, I took photos and moved on. Moving forward, I will still take the photos, but I’m also going to give myself the time to actually experience it too. We are so worried about capturing every moment that we don’t actually experience those moments.
How I’m Creating More Life Balance on Social Media
When I travel, I’m going to make a conscious effort not to be on my phone much at all. I’m going to take photos of beautiful things, as I did in NYC, but I’m going to focus much more on experiencing everything. I’m going to try to be mindful of being more present and work on that as much as I can. I also plan to implement this mindfulness more in my daily life too. All of these plans have really gotten me to think about whether I should quit social media.
When I’m with my kids, I often find myself randomly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook rather than engaging with them. I’m realizing just how precious our time is and I don’t want to waste any more of it by mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds.
Should I Quit Social Media?
I’m also considering taking a complete break this summer. I think we could all use social media detoxes every now and then. I’ve been blogging for nearly 6 years and I’ve never taken more than a couple days off. I think it’s time I take an extended vacation. I’m sure this would be a major transition for me and may even feel weird – like I lost something – but I think I mentally need the time off to recharge and reconnect to my life.
Although I never expected my trip to New York to be eye opening – I’ve been to NYC probably 15 times – but it was. Being in the city, experiencing the energy, spending time with my people, I just realized how fleeting all of this is and really started to question why I’m spending so much of my life worrying about updating my social feed.
I am blessed. I have a great family, a wonderful career as a university administrator and a blogger, and amazing friends. I’m realizing that I don’t need to show only a rose-colored view of my life and maybe, I shouldn’t be showing my life at all.
When I’m old, I don’t want to look back and regret not living my life. I don’t want to only document my life through social media platforms. We all need to think a little harder about how we spend our time and live our real life. I want to make sure I’m using my time to fulfill myself and I’m not so sure social media usage does that at all.