A few months ago, I looked up and realized that I was pretty checked out of my own life. More accurately, I was checked out of my actual, non-virtual life. I had buried myself in social media, diving in to escape the stress of real life and using my virtual work as an excuse.
I didn’t wake up one day and just decide to basically “live” on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. My habits were developed and honed over the last decade of military life. I’ve been driven by necessity and opportunity, business and escape.
Are you there, too?
Do You Bury Yourself in Social Media?
At first, I used internet chat rooms. That was way back in 2008 or 2009, before Facebook was the monolith of social interaction that it is today. Chat rooms were how I connected with other significant others while my spouse was away at training and MOS school.
But it was easy to disconnect, as simple as shutting my laptop or hitting the power button.
As Facebook expanded, it was easier to connect and find communities. My social plans, like unit events or neighborhood parties, were planned on Facebook. Our unit maintained a Facebook page. My business was, and still is, social media based.
Facebook was the connection to my husband when he was deployed for a year. It was how we connected and shared pictures.
Facebook is how I stay in touch with distant family members, including my own parents and sister, no matter where the military sends us. They love seeing my kids grow up. Having Facebook and Instagram makes it really easy to get those glimpses of lives lived far apart.
Social Media was Taking Over My Life
Pretty soon, I was checking Facebook multiple times each day. The rise of the iPhone and apps made my habit easier to access. My social network was in the palm of my hand, just a swipe or touch away.
Waiting at the doctor’s office or at the mechanic, I was swiping through social media. Facebook and Instagram became my default “killing time” activity.
As we moved around the country and then the world, social media was my way to keep friendships alive. It was my research tool to make moving a little bit easier, checking out the latest info on our next base or collecting travel tips for our next adventure.
Later, as I created my blog and launched a parent coaching business, spending hours on social media could be spun as “work.” I was creating posts, building connections with potential clients, and growing my network.
My Escape from Life
Really, social media had kind of taken over my life. I was no longer “present” in my actual real life.
Instead of experiencing my OCONUS life, I was hunting for the next best ‘gram spot or a way to twist a cool trip into a social post. I was “working” by scrolling on Facebook instead of playing with my kids.
Enough was enough. There is nothing so important online that it trumps living real life.
But I also get how useful social media is for military spouses. We almost need it to get the best picture of our next PCS move – schools, housing, commutes, jobs and possible friendships connections.
Try a Social Media Diet
I needed to do something. Cutting all ties just isn’t realistic. My business lives online, so I do need accounts to make it more profitable and functional. But social media would no longer be my focus.
My first step to reconnect with myself and my life was to take Facebook and Twitter off of my phone. Instagram stays, for now, but with time limits. Now, I get notified when I reach 30 minutes of daily Instagram use.
Facebook checks will be limited to just a few times a day, only when my kids are at school. It’s such a time suck and is really overwhelming sometimes.
I’m making a point to only hop onto my computer during working hours, when the kids are at school. Once they get home, the computer is shut and the phone will be mostly down.
I’m giving myself some grace. My tech is where my recipes are stored, how I do quick research and is the keeper of my music library. So, my phone or iPad might be out during dinner prep. Or I could be hunting for a playlist to listen to with the kids. Little kids have lots of questions, and they need answers fast. Hello, Google.
I’ve been doing this social media diet for the last month or so. And already, I’m feeling so much lighter and happier. I’m present with my kids in a way that I really haven’t been in a while. It feels so very good to not be buried in my social media bubble anymore.