In June, I decided that I needed a little social media break. Some people take breaks because they see too much negativity on the platforms, but that wasn’t why I needed a break. I needed a break from social media like other people need breaks from binge-watching Netflix or because they watch too much tv. My social media feeds are quite interesting. My friends and family live all over the world; they do cool things, and I happen to think that my siblings’ social media is hilarious. The people I see on the screen are interesting, funny, smart, and I enjoy getting snap-shots of what is going on in their lives. However, I found myself a little too interested. I would go to Facebook to make a quick post, and before I knew it, I was in the deep, dark scroll-hole. I knew that I needed to take a break from the scrolling so I could focus a little more on my own life.
July would be my month. I would focus on family, my health, my mind, and I would do a little soul-work too. I just knew that I would end July more flexible, stronger, a fluent Japanese speaker, and I would be doing yoga poses like those I would see on my Instagram feed. I would read books and try new things. My life would be changed, and I would emerge a new, better person. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
I don’t know what I replaced social media scrolling time with, but I did not do a single Japanese lesson. I read news instead of reading my friends’ thoughts. I did my once-a-week yoga lesson, but I didn’t become an expert at inversions. I did my 4 runs a week, but I missed sharing the running with my friends. I also missed seeing how my friends’ running was going. I read and listened to a few books, and I listened to a ton of podcasts. I was entertained, but I don’t necessarily feel any smarter. I didn’t lose 20 pounds, and my health remains about the same. I can’t say that I am a new, better person. I’m pretty much the same person.
Let’s face it, I didn’t really make it all 31 days without taking peeks at social. The first 11 days were good. I didn’t even consider opening up the apps. I didn’t miss them, and I was doing just fine without social media. However, after about 11 days, all of a sudden, I was curious. What were people doing with their summer breaks? Were my business partners and teammates doing awesome things that I was unaware of? Was I missing out on anything? Sure, I missed a few birthdays, but after a peek into the social media world, I realized that I could go back to reading books and doing whatever else I was doing during the first 11 days of the month. All was good, until July 19th, and that’s when I realized a typhoon was coming our way!
If you live or have lived on Okinawa, you realize that EVERYTHING happens on Facebook. You get valuable information, to include information about upcoming storms. Facebook is how you find out when to start preparing. It’s how you find out if your service member will be going to work. It’s how you find out if things are all-clear so you can move about freely again after the storm. It’s also where you find out if there was any damage to your friends’ homes or neighborhoods. I could refrain from Facebook until the typhoon roped me in, and boy did it rope me in! All of a sudden, I was reading all of the pages and the comments about the storm, and because the storm lingered here for several days, I was scrolling for several days. I had pretty good will-power to stay off The Book until the first storm of the season; the weak storm was stronger than my will-power and discipline.
Once the storm passed, it should have been super simple to just put the phone away, but shortly after the storm passed, the next thing rolled in – The Olympics. I love the Olympics. The Games bring me such good memories. I loved watching the athletic performances with my family. Dad would cheer, “USA, USA, USA!!!” He would make you feel like you were actually there. We would high-five and hug when an athlete nailed a performance, and we would sit quietly to listen to the Star-Spangled Banner when an American won the gold. Currently, I don’t have access to watch the games on TV, so the next best thing is to see what’s streaming on social media. Olympic commentators have nothing compared to reading through people’s thoughts on things like Biles stepping down from the gymnastics team effort. If you really want interesting insights, go read some of the comments. Reading those comments is fascinating. Everyone has their take on it, and I found myself back in the scroll-hole.
What I realized is that I like Facebook and Instagram. I like seeing what people are doing, and I enjoy sharing what I am doing. I use the platforms to get information about all sorts of things from what sales are going on at the thrift store on base, to what products my friends are selling. I even use Facebook to figure out what products MY company is selling. I use it to see how real estate is panning out, to see what is going on with Coronavirus and how it is affecting travel. I use to to share information and resources for the families on the island, and I use it to see how people are doing with their military moves. I use it for laughs (a special thanks to my brother, Mario). I use it for inspiration. If other people can get out and run in the rain, I can too! I use to to keep up with friends who I know from other duty stations, and I use it to see what’s going on with my busy family. I found that not only did I NOT improve as a human; I found that I was a little lonelier without it. I know that people love to talk about how “bad or negative” social media is, but I happen to think that it is a positive place for me. Everyone needs to find their own relationship with it, and setting timers on my phone to cut me off the scrolling is a good thing, but I don’t know that I will take any other extended breaks from the platforms again anytime soon.
Instead of taking another break, I may end up posting and sharing MORE!