Observations from May's Social Media Pause

social media pause

During the month of May,  I decided to take a little pause from Social Media.

There was no dramatic fanfare, no big announcement, and no “goodbye for now” post. There was just a quiet step back from the beginning of May until the end.

The reason for my social media pause was the desire to create more white space in my days. While I wasn’t necessarily spending a ton of time on social media, it was typically a regular part of my daily and weekly rhythms. I post regularly about things I’m thinking about in my work and my life, and between posts often check in on friends or other accounts that I follow.

I was curious if its absence could create just a bit more breathing room - a bit more slowness - and a bit more space where other things could reside.

I was quite delighted by what I observed during this time and by the things that did, indeed, fit into these new little spaces of life, created by this month-long pause.

Here are a few of the things I have been reflecting on along the way.

If I want someone to know something, I need to tell them.

Going off social media for a month, I found myself saying “no” several times when asked, “did you see ABC on Instagram?” This exchange made me realize that on occasion in the past, I had assumed that others in my life might know something in my life or my business, simply because I had posted about it on social media. This is an erroneous assumption on a number of levels, and my month-long pause helped to underline my ownership when it comes to communicating important things to others.

If I want to know what’s happening with others in my life, I need to ask.

Going off social media for a month meant that this exchange applied in reverse, as well. No longer could I catch up on others with a quick scroll through Instagram. If I wanted to know how a friend’s race went, I needed to ask her. There was no race recap for me to read during my month-long pause. I found myself appreciating text message check-ins, one on one conversations, and ongoing conversations with close girlfriends on Marco Polo to stay tuned into the everyday happenings of their life.

I read more.

During this time, I read over a book a week. Now, granted, some of these books were short, easy reads. But still. This was more reading than I’d been doing in the months leading up to this pause. I developed what felt like a very luxurious habit of reading a good old fashioned book each night before bed. While I did this on and off regularly prior to the social media pause, the “30 days to form a habit” concept worked really well for me in this case, adding a wonderfully consistent wind-down rhythm to my evenings, which I am excited to continue.

I walked more.

I’m not sure if this benefit was directly correlated, or simply a conveniently timed coincidence given the shifting weather here in the midwest, but in these new little pockets of white space, I found myself on many slow, delightful walks with the dog. Walks around the neighborhood, walks along the bike path, walks in the morning, and walks in the evening before bed. In addition to more reading, this was my favorite unintended and unexpected outcome of the social media pause.

I was less annoyed.

Despite my attempts at a highly curated feed, there’s still plenty of annoying stuff that I find myself accidentally stumbling upon when I log onto Instagram. In a few cases, I noticed that this content was causing my heart to beat a bit faster, and my breath to become a bit shorter. The absence of these little tidbits of annoyance was quite lovely.

I did miss one important thing.

To my knowledge, I didn’t miss too many earth-shattering updates during my social media pause. I talked regularly with girlfriends - catching up on day-to-day, ordinary life events, as well as massive life changes like the arrival of a new baby. I read the blogs and newsletters of people I love to follow. I continued writing on my own blog, and sending out my newsletter to the incredible Zing Collaborative community. I did, however, discover that I missed one very important (to me) thing: the announcement of a Farewell Flow by my all-time favorite yoga instructor, leading me to sign up five days after it was announced, putting me 12th on the waitlist. This was a class that I attended almost every Sunday morning that I was in town for the last year and a half - a class that I called my church. And despite stalking the yoga schedule every week for the possibility of my favorite teacher’s return, I missed the announcement of this class - shared only via Instagram. Since signing up yesterday, I’ve bumped up to 11th on the waitlist, so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for 11 more cancelations, which might just mean that I can say that there were no negative impacts of my month-long pause.

Concluding Thoughts

I did this social media pause as an experiment - to see if it might help me to create more of the white space I’ve been craving. It definitely did, along with delivering a few other unexpected surprises such as more reading and more walks with the pup. As I ease back in over the upcoming weeks, I’m looking forward to observing what I notice along the way.

For More

I recommend checking out Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. I discovered this book after doing my social media pause, but after digging into his research, I found it to be incredibly timely coming off my own social media hiatus. What struck me most were his findings related to our addictive patterns with technology. He found that it was not the introduction of the iPhone that made us addicted to our phones, but rather the “like” button on social media - something that triggers a basic human instinct to want to know that we are valued, or that someone is thinking about us. Hear more on the book via this brief podcast from Outside Online, or the Blinkist Summary for a great overview.