It’s been:

  • 15 years since I stopped watching TV (no cable, no worries!)
  • 2 years since I closed my Facebook account
  • 2 months since I deleted my Instagram account (after having rarely used it over the past 3 years).

Looking back, I can clearly see it was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my peace of mind, mental health, and general wellbeing.

“But how can you be a marketer without social media?”, you might ask.

The answer is simple: marketing ≠ social media.

There is SO much more you can do to reach the right people, build a following or a community, and promote your work!

Examples include blogging, sending a newsletter, starting a podcast, and many other options to connect and serve your people.

For a long time, I only saw the good side of social media. During that honeymoon period, I basked in the opportunity to connect with people, debate topics, share experiences, and support the causes most dear to me. The dynamic fed my idealism, opened my perspective, and took me farther than I ever imagined I’d go.

But it only took a few years for the other shoe to drop. “Move fast and break things”, Zuckerberg said. And so they did. Facebook particularly contributed to breaking things like privacy, democracy, and mental health in an unscrupulous way.

When I stopped watching TV, I raised some eyebrows. I found alternative ways to keep informed and do it on my terms. The dumpster fire that is 99% of TV content reinforced my decision every time I glanced at a TV someone had on.

It was the same with Facebook and Instagram, but with the volume turned up. These social media channels in particular gradually turned me away by the increasingly toxic effect they had on me.

I felt overwhelmed by FOMO.

Using Facebook and Instagram often felt like homework (just like pop culture sometimes does) because I’m not particularly great at taking and posting pictures. That type of self-expression doesn’t come naturally to me.

My brain was overstimulated and overwhelmed by the information I was constantly absorbing.

My self-confidence was through the floor because Facebook and Instagram excel at hitting the “compare yourself to other people” button and their apparently perfect lives.

Most of all, I felt like I had too little time to think, reflect, and go in depth on things that mattered to me.

The trigger

What triggered me giving up on Facebook was the habits workshop that Cristina and Andrei did in September 2018. It was a powerful experience I wrote about in 2 evergreen newsletters (part I, part II). I still go back to those ideas to this day, digging deeper into them and using them to advance my self-awareness and build my inner balance.

Once I saw the difference it made, I stopped using Instagram but came back to it after a while to see if something had changed for the better. It didn’t, so I finally decided to permanently delete my account.

Life without FB, IG & TV (is goooood!)

One of the best things that came out of this decision is that I don’t know what people are up to anymore. I get to hear directly from them about their experiences, discoveries, and projects. It also became a lot clearer which relationships that started in social media/the online realm were worth consolidating.

I still hang around on Twitter and on LinkedIn (gasp! – it can be great if you curate your feed; yes, really!) but social media is no longer a central aspect of my life.

What’s more, I cut off all notifications from my phone and it was SO liberating! It’s been 2 years since I did it and now it surprises me when someone else’s phone keeps buzzing. The hit of dopamine we get when we see a notification gives us false sense of importance and boosts our ego in an unhealthy way. We end up equating notifications with being needed, wanted, cared for – which is very wrong and very harmful. It’s like eating sugar and wondering why you still feel empty inside.

“We want to be interrupted, because each interruption brings us a valuable piece of information. To turn off these alerts is to risk feeling out of touch, or even socially isolated.” ― Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

I couldn’t be more grateful to myself for having gone of Facebook, Instagram, and TV.

Because I carved up more mental space for myself, I was able to keep writing my newsletter, to start the podcast, and to dedicate more time to reflect on my long-term plans, which resulted in me building my freelance business.

I’m not advocating for everyone to stop using social media. That’s not the point. Instead, I’m making a plea for considering the cost and benefits of doing so without a clear intent or outcome. I’m advocating for not letting social media distort reality to the point where we minimize our chances of self-reflection. I’m rooting for people to decide to build themselves from the inside out – and follow through on it!

I see so many freaking out after watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix and I’m glad they’re realizing the consequences of their habits. We should be scared of social media’s addictive effect. And we should also do something about it.

“Wise decisions can’t happen in crowded minds”

As a fellow communication professional and yoga teacher said “There is no room for a step forward as long as there’s a constant “rush hour” in our life.”

In an age where everything pulls away at our identity, when we’re overwhelmed by more information than we’ll ever need, we can find great value in slowing down and being more thoughtful about what we consume and how.

If I hadn’t chosen a digital diet that suits my needs, I’m convinced that it would’ve taken significantly longer to make the decisions that led me to this point where I can enjoy more independence and autonomy. Not to mention that I wouldn’t have regained focus and the ability to do deep work as I can do now, or the time to read more.

“In the quiet spaces opened up by the prolonged, undistracted reading of a book, people made their own associations, drew their own inferences and analogies, fostered their own ideas. They thought deeply as they read deeply.” ― Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

Life’s too short to spend so much of it on social media.

If you want to understand the neuropsychological effects that social media and the internet in general has on our brains, I highly recommend you read The Shallows.

“What we’re experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: we are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest.” ― Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

It’s up to each of us to reverse that trend.

Knowing this, what will you decide to do for yourself?

P.S. This was originally sent on April 28th, 2019 (with minor updates added to reflect my current habits).

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