In late March I decided I wanted to quit social media. I didn’t put a specific amount with that time, I just wanted to give it up and see how I felt as the days passed.
I did set some rules early on though.
The first 7 days I would go without any digital consumption whatsoever. No Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, podcasts, Netflix, blog posts, etc. I was only allowed to schedule pins, read books, and listen to music.
Those 7 days were probably the most productive days I had in awhile and I felt GREAT mentally.
I then set the rule that I was only allowed to watch Netflix on the weekends with my boyfriend (which I do anyway) and watch YouTube videos while I do cardio (so 30 minutes a day at the most). However, I told myself I could only watch informational/educational videos. Nothing that could potentially cause me to compare my life to another’s in a negative manner.
So let’s rewind a bit here.
I followed all of my rules.
I wrote and published 2 blog posts that week.
I filmed 3 YouTube videos and uploaded 2.
I scheduled pins for the whole week.
I e-mailed my blog subscribers.
I finished a whole book (The Happiness Equation) and started another (The 4 Hour Work Week).
I stayed on top of the clutter in my home.
While eating I simply ate or talked to my boyfriend.
And I swear I started sleeping better.
I was super excited with how I felt and how productive I was.
I eased into my consumerism by listening to a podcast during cardio and my commute to work. Nothing crazy.
During week 2 the balcony set I ordered for my apartment came in so I assembled that while I watched/listened to documentaries over a couple of days. One was a documentary of a man who suffered from a health condition, the rest were about finances/debt/the economy.
I still got a blog post up, an e-mail sent to my blog subscribers, and two YouTube videos up. Not bad.
This is when things got iffy.
No Instagram, no Facebook, and Netflix only on the weekends.
I was doing pretty good, but my focus started to blur a bit. I still was getting stuff done but not as efficiently.
Toward the end of the week I started doing research on which camera I wanted to buy for YouTube. I allowed myself to watch several review videos and ultimately made the decision that Saturday. However, this time the YouTube watching didn’t stop there.
This is when I let myself slip WAY too much.
I spent hours watching pointless YouTube videos. I kept seeing so many intriguing titles that I felt compelled to watch. And to be honest, watching videos has always been “comforting” to me. Over the last couple of years I’ve made the habit of always watching a YouTube video when I eat my dinner.
So I allowed myself to watch a video one day while eating and ended up binging so much content that my head hurt. Needless to say I was quite disappointed in myself.
That weekend I deleted YouTube from my phone as well.
I told myself to start over. NO MORE.
I failed on Monday and once again watched way too many YouTube videos because “I didn’t feel creative.” I had no clue what to film for YouTube. I have all these ideas in my head but I bum myself out thinking about how I can’t produce them to be as good as what I imagine. It’s a vicious, creative sucking cycle I go through quite often.
I didn’t get a video up.
I started writing this blog post while in week 5 and I did a lot better for the next few days. I only listened to a video today about the ‘FIRE’ movement.
However, there’s another problem…Pinterest.
I’ve started scrolling through the Pinterest app on my phone way more. Mostly just pinning, but also reading way too much.
At this point you’re probably thinking, “Jesus woman you have no hope.”
But this journey has helped me realize a few things.
These are habits. Digital consumerism is a habit. I feel like I constantly have to be doing something. And if I’m not doing something productive I am stimulating my brain by reading/watching/looking at content, sometimes even convincing it that I am being productive. My brain has been trained to desire that. I’ve realized that I mostly get lost in these platforms when I am:
2) Lacking creativity
So I’ll scroll through or watch something because it wakes me up or I believe it helps me get ideas and inspiration.
This is something I have done for years.
So yes I’m proud to say that I haven’t scrolled through Instagram once and I don’t even miss it, but I started replacing that time with other distractions.
So what now?
I apologize that this post has been a bit of a ramble thus far, but the whole story was important because it led me to realizations about myself and how I can fix these things (and how you can too if you may have a problem with consumerism).
Let’s start with social media
Social media shows no sign of slowing down. Personally, I think social media is really cool in that we can connect and learn from others, plus many people now have careers on these platforms. Influencers have the ability to change people’s lives and perspectives.
However, I also think social media is ruining us. It’s rare to find people NOT on their phones throughout the whole day. At work, walking their dog, driving, waiting in line, eating, at dinner, everywhere. I also don’t know many people who I can have a long conversation with without them eventually pulling their phone out, ultimately pulling their attention away.
I wasn’t a big Twitter or Facebook user, but I would spend hours on Instagram and YouTube daily.
In my opinion, Instagram is the worst platform. Between never-ending stories and always loading photos, you can easily spend hours on it. Unlike YouTube, I’ve never really gained anything from IG. I may have learned about a new product or book from someone’s story/photo, but nothing profound that I can even recall at this point.
The app causes us to spend precious hours of our life watching and looking at other people’s lives. Most of those people we don’t even know personally.
I have now been off of Instagram almost two months and I can’t imagine going back to it at this time in my life.
I have thought about returning, but the stress of it isn’t worth it. As a blogger and YouTuber, I wanted to post consistently on IG to grow my following. I would waste hours of my day trying to take a decent photo and think of a good caption. Looking back, it felt so shallow.
Until I get to the point where I can just post on IG and then get off of it, I don’t want to be on it.
As beautiful and cool a perfectly themed Instagram profile is, it’s not realistic or worth it.
Being off IG has been GREAT. My boyfriend has also been off social media this whole time with me, and our time together is actually spent together. We talk and just chill without any other people involved. I love it.
Over-consumerism is bad in all areas. Shopping, eating, alcohol, and content.
Over-consumerism of content is often overlooked though because it’s effects aren’t as harmful. It doesn’t cause debt, obesity, or alcoholism. However, it is definitely a problem.
Our society is addicted to consuming content. Between Instagram, Facebook posts, blog articles, the news, Netflix, YouTube videos, podcasts, books, it’s literally never-ending.
It really makes you question, do we even think for ourselves anymore??
It is so rare to just BE. To just sit or exist in a moment, in silence, to be bored. It’s no wonder anxiety is off the charts in all age groups.
Our brains are constantly stimulated and taking in information. There’s no room for it to just relax, therefore, anxiety and overwhelm is triggered.
On a broad scale, all of this is relatively new. Over the last couple of decades technology has allowed ALL sorts of information to be at our fingertips and constantly in our face. We don’t even know the long-term effects yet.
I think it is really important for us to be aware of just how much content we’re consuming.
Personally, if I’m consuming too much that means I’m not creating enough. Consumerism feels productive.
You may read an article or watch a video on a subject of personal development for example. This content feels really productive and insightful, but you probably already know all the information.
I used to constantly be reading articles on ‘How to be productive’ or ‘How to manage your time.’ The content was always the same and I already knew the answers. YOU JUST DO WORK AND YOU JUST PRIORITIZE. I felt like I was improving myself by reading that material but really I just ended up wasting my time.
I mean, the most popular most on my blog is about ‘How to manage it all.’
I LOVE that I can inspire and motivated people and that many people love that post, but honestly it’s nothing new.
There are a few things you can do to reduce over-consumerism:
-be mindful during activities (simply do whatever it is you’re doing; eating, washing dishes, etc.)
-go for a walk
-talk with your friends and family
-be creative (write, journal, paint, draw)
-workout without music or to music without lyrics
And finally, overall digital addiction.
Technology has us all wrapped around its’ finger. We can’t resist looking at a beep on our phone or a new e-mail coming through.
The curiosity and desire to look at our screens has become a habit for most of us. Even if we know there is no notification, we still check our phones over and over again.
And of course it doesn’t stop there. The need to constantly be on the phone, on social media, on the internet, or watching tv is a serious problem.
If these things are starting to take over your healthy habits and relationships, it’s time to consider getting some help and reducing the amount of time spent on these devices.
Be honest with yourself.
How much time are you wasting on digital devices?
Do you make time for working out? Cooking healthy food? Being productive? Your relationships? Quality sleep?
If you feel you don’t have the time for those things, I suggest you read my post, Hard Truths About Time Management.
BUT THEN GET OUT OF HERE! Lol I seriously appreciate you reading my content, but really, take back your time.
Live your life, don’t keep wasting it on other peoples’ lives.
As for me, I’m always a work in progress. I am working on changing my habits and taking control of how much content I consume. I’ve made a lot of progress these last few weeks and I have been able to get so much more done.
Trust me, I haven’t been perfect, but reducing my consumerism has definitely improved my life.
I love this post! I used to over-consume so much, being on Facebook and Instagram for hours. But now I have a slight hatred for it and I want to be more present and conscious in life. That’s why I love meditation and walks too! they’re so grounding and peaceful.
Thank you! And yes definitely agree, IG and FB always create negative emotions for me.