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So last week I was having some weird moments. I was just mentally…struggling? I don’t know if that’s the right term, but all I know is that I was not my best Kez. I had perhaps a little dose of PMS (yep), my husband was away for a week, I had a lot of sh*t going on in my brain (it was still trying to process the whole previous
year month) and I felt like I’d lost my mojo. I was letting all of my insecurities play out in my mind (usually in the mid afternoon when I felt the most bored/drained of energy). Fears of not being the best parent I could be, fears of rejection/being invisible to the world, worrying, worrying and more worrying. I was not eating as well as I had been the months previous (I lost 2.5 kilos by being a good girl) and due to my coccyx being quite badly bruised, I hadn’t been able to get my exercise endorphin hit.
On one particularly rough day/s (my Twitter followers will know exactly which
few one because I became some kind of emo annoyance), I checked Facebook (after spending all day being the aforementioned annoyance via tweets) and I saw how wonderful everyone’s social lives appeared to be. I saw how amazing everyone looked (we all show our best sides on Facebook, right?) and I couldn’t take it anymore.
Once the Little Mister is in bed, I’m banning myself from social networking sites. Helps to turn off the ‘noise’.
— Kez (@KezUnprepared) April 24, 2013
So I did it. At times I felt a little lost. I am embarrassed to say that at one point, I wished to tweet: Have turned off Twitter for the night. Feeling a little lost without it.
Don’t worry. I stopped myself.
We get so used to broadcasting our every thought to every person that nothing is sacred anymore. Now, I’m not really totally against that – how could I be? All you have to do is read back over my timeline to know that I have no right to be a hypocrite about it now! However, occasionally it’s probably a good thing to go old school. Back when you had to actually talk to someone about your feelings. Someone you know. In real life. You had to spend time without all the constant ‘noise’ in your head from seeing every person’s every move ever online. You had time and mental space to actually sort your sh*t out and to think straight. Time to think straight is a commodity for a parent in general as it is!
As I sat at my (new and shiny birthday) laptop, my iPhone nearby, I suddenly realised why there are crazy experiments on current affairs shows all the time where families spend a whole week without technology in order to become more creative, interactive, peaceful people. I wouldn’t go to that extreme, but I kind of get it.
While I had to almost slap myself on the hand to prevent myself from tapping the Facebook icon on my phone or tweeting all my opinions on all things that ever existed on Twitter, I stuck to my guns for a whole evening. And it felt good. I caught up on some TV. I read some inspiring blogs. My thoughts became more positive when I wasn’t secretly (in my mind) snarking about somebody and their posts on Facebook. I didn’t have up to the minute ‘news’ on Twitter to get my knickers in a twist about – politics, human rights, misinformation pertaining to recent terror attacks around the world. Nothing was in “real” time. I was on Kez time. Living Kez moments. Sure, they weren’t the most scintillating moments, but they were mine. Nobody else’s lives injected themselves into my peaceful evening. I didn’t have momentary commentary to react to RIGHT THEN AND THERE.
I found myself wanting to blog, not dreading it. Not overthinking it.
I began to wonder if I could actually go without it for another day. And then maybe another? What stuff could I get done without the constant ‘noise’ in my brain? What awesome things could I think of next? What if I only used the internet for ‘useful’ things – things I wanted to know? Not things that popped up every second in my newsfeeds and timelines, whether I liked it or not? What if I could be in control, just for a little while?
Maybe I’d actually find those healthy recipes I’d been thinking about (and then actually cook them, toddler permitting)? What if I blogged about MY thoughts? Thoughts I might not have had if I’d been busy ‘liking’ everyone’s cute baby photos/duck faces the minute they were posted? What if I kept some special memories just to myself and my little family? That funny thing the Little Mister did, the milestone we all reached together. What if I felt no obligation to just ‘check in’ so that everyone knew what was going on? Who says they wouldn’t find out if they needed to?
I think social media is a wonderful and valuable tool. It connects people to other awesome people they might not have known existed. It keeps people in touch in the easiest, most immediate ways when time and distance can separate them. It is there when you need support (especially as a new parent) and it can even be responsible for positive societal change – people can unite from all around the world to champion a fantastic cause.
Yep. It has its downsides too. There are probably too many to list once you mention the fact that it can be abused. But that’s for another blog post. I am 29 now, not 19. I should be mature enough to do the best thing for myself when I’m feeling down/flat/lonely. And last week it was to switch off the social media sites and to listen to myself.
That afternoon (before the Little Mister was in bed), I picked up the phone and called my mum for a heart to heart. I snuggled with the Little Mister whose fledgling wicked sense of humour and unabashed displays of affection light up my life. I wasn’t distracted by the flash, flash, flash of my phone as notifications rolled in. I zoned out and it felt good. Who hasn’t earnt that after a long hard day? OK, so I retweeted a couple of things…but I was a good girl once the evening rolled around. As I lay in bed, my overwhelming problems turned into achievable goals and solutions. I taught myself new things – things I’d felt held back by because I didn’t know how to do them. I stopped holding my breath, feeling that anxiety in the pit of my stomach.
I didn’t miss it! I didn’t miss the viral posts about how 1000, 000 likes were required to cure some rare disease. I didn’t miss the photos and the status updates as people advertised the best sides of themselves. I didn’t miss the latest celebrity gossip. I didn’t miss that feeling of insecurity that crept up when I didn’t get any ‘likes’ or felt like everyone was having a great time but me.
The next day I felt differently about social media. I realised that I need to be in control of it, not the other way around. It was up to me when I logged in and why. From now on, when I’m feeling blue or insecure, I’m going to switch off. Without feeling weird or …guilty. I’m sure a Facebook message can wait another day for a reply. I don’t have to be switched on 24/7. Who made that rule, anyway (don’t get me started)?
I’m going to slow down and live in the moment. At least as much as I can. Every now and then, at least. Maybe. Look, I’ll just try to be marginally less irritating. I suppose. Kind of. Y’know…
Oh, look at me being all non committal for fear of being a massive hypocritical liar…
In all seriousness, I think it’s all about being mindful. So many times, I stumble upon Facebook and Twitter half awake, bleary eyed. Liking and tweeting without really thinking about it. Letting my mind become flooded with information that I haven’t consciously prepared myself to receive. I think that I can try harder to open these social media apps/sites deliberately. Not just on auto pilot – out of habit. So far, I have been able to do that. I’ve thought about it a lot more. I feel better for it.
I can’t promise that I won’t have my annoying moments on Twitter – no-one’s perfect – but I’ll probably save bucketloads of moolah on therapy by switching off/slowing down every now and then 😉
How do you feel about social media? Hate it? Love it? Love to hate it? x