It’s ironic that sifting through social media today gave me the idea to try a social media break. This is something I’ve tried many times, but it feels more pressing lately, as time management skills slip, responsibilities add up, and regular job duties (not to mention chosen duties, like writing for myself) pile on. Two interesting approaches to manage the stress and distractions passed across my viewscreen today, though, both of which I would like to try.
The first is a cautious approach to social media detox. In other words, rather than trying to cut social media “cold turkey” (an apt description, considering social media is certainly some kind of addiction), I would focus on keeping a consistent “social media-free day.” The idea is, if I can take one day off per week for a while, that might eventually become two, and then three, until the urge/need, or whatever we want to call it, fades completely, and social media presence becomes more of an “as needed” or “as inclined,” rather than a catch-all for every bored or free moment we have. And let’s face it, we don’t actually have that many free moments, especially when we turn those moments into tens of moments, and hours of moments, when we allow ourselves to be sucked-into the social media rabbit holes. So, I plan to pick a day, probably a weekend day, when I can reasonably attempt to take a total break, instead focusing on house chores, outdoor activities, writing, reading, submitting, and etc.
The other interesting idea is a gratitude journal (or gratitude, something). Daily gratitude reflection of some kind. Studies show that finding time each day to reflect on what is going well, even the small things, goes a long way toward improving quality of life and personal feelings of satisfaction and peace. Mindfulness is something I’ve been trying to practice for a few months, now, since I began to travel down a course of Buddhist study, but mindfulness focusing on gratitude is an excellent idea. I’m reminded that Kurt Vonnegut, in his last published collection, relayed a story about his uncle, who in random moments, often in times of stress or argument, would look up and mutter, “If this isn’t nice, what is?” Vonnegut always makes his philosophy seem so much more obvious and simple than it is, of course, but this is a manageable place to start, I think. The options are endless, too. It might be expressing gratitude with my partner at the end of the evening, before bed, as a way of letting the day fall off meaningfully. It might be journaling quietly for a few minutes, focusing on not everything that’s going on, but the few good things that need attention. It could be silent meditation, or listening to a particular playlist that inspires joyful reflection. It could be taking an intentional short walk, even. I’ll be exploring a couple of these methods, or re-exploring, I should say, because most of these are things I do every day anyway, but not necessarily with a focus on gratitude.
I think I may have inadvertently taken a first step toward this journey yesterday, when I deleted Facebook. I’ve been bothered by their privacy policies (or lack thereof) for a long time. Then, I became even more troubled with the mess of propaganda and the socio-cultural tunnel-vision and partisanship it fostered before and during, and since, the 2016 election. Lately, additional troubling details have come out regarding Mr. Z. and many of his top administrators, and their courting of one particular ideological group. “Enough is enough,” I said. I had been keeping it out of habit and lack of options, to be honest, and not because it’s something I enjoy. If I’m going to focus on gratitude and meaningful living, it seems sensible to begin by culling those things that do not bring me either.
So, let’s give this a shot. Today, I’m grateful for my renewed focus, grateful to be off Facebook, and grateful for another beautiful day, which allowed me to take a nice, hour-long walk and listen to some of my favorite music. It also reminded me to sign-up for my guitar class next semester. Onward.