Do we really need social media? What I learned from a 30-day break

By Geordie Bull

A few months ago, I started to experience a growing unease with social media. 

I could no longer shut out the low-level anxiety coursing through my veins after every scrolling session. Nor could I hide from the sheer awfulness of posting a carefully constructed caption that only garnered a trickle of ‘likes’.

Because I felt good most of the time, it was easy to notice that I was consistently experiencing a dip in my mood every time I used social media.

Despite an intuitive message to leave, I stayed on Instagram and Facebook for months because I believed that not having a social media presence would kill my coaching business.  

But as the discomfort grew, I began to question whether the benefits of social media were worth the side effects. And if I, an emotional health coach, meditator and yoga teacher, was struggling with the effects of social media on my mental and emotional health, how was everyone else dealing with it?

Social media addiction is a background theme for many of my clients, a crutch they turn to when feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. After observing this repeatedly, I now ask clients straight up about their social media use and how it benefits them. The answers are often vague. 

“I like to know what’s happening in my friends’ lives.”

“It’s good for keeping in touch with people.”

 “I need it for my business.”

But the tricky thing about social media platforms is that they are engineered to be addictive, meaning that any attempts to use it mindfully require a huge storehouse of willpower – something that’s hard to access when you’re busy or struggling emotionally. 

It’s so easy to start off sharing a work-related post and quickly fall into mindlessly checking likes for the rest of the day. It also feels natural to avoid difficult emotions or conflicts by sliding into a ‘quick’ scroll session that lasts for hours.

One day I woke up and realised that the time I spent on social media – particularly Instagram – was a waste of my one precious life. My kids were complaining that I was staring at my phone and I was emerging from unintentional scrolling sessions feeling foggy and unproductive.

I decided to take a 30-day break, even if it was detrimental to my business, and use it to determine whether social media is adding value to my life, or taking away from it.

Here’s what I’ve noticed over the past 30 days: 

I don’t feel overwhelmed or time-poor anymore 

This is huge for me. Before, I was running around like a crazy person trying to figure out why I felt so busy and unproductive at the same time. I had a hunch that social media had something to do with it, and I was right.

Now, I feel more intentional about how I use my time and can complete tasks free of distractions, which makes me feel better about myself.

My days feel more intentional and less harried and I’m decidedly clearer about my values and priorities and feel like I have more time to dedicate to things that matter. 

I’m feeling more content 

There are people on my news feed holidaying in the snow, making millions, enjoying loved-up dinners and reading kind notes from their children, and I’ll never know about it. This allows me to focus on the ordinary and mundane joys of family life without comparing them to other people’s highlight reels.

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