2016, Year of No Social Media

I know I might sound like a broken record of a hippie sounding millennial on strike, but bear with me. Taking my 2015 resolutions into comparison from the previous year, I have since then been able to identify some of the things that have prevented the success of goals I set out for myself. Some of those things I came to the realization were in fact right at my fingertips.

The first thing I do when I wake up is feel around under my sheets for my cell phone. I expect more often than not to read a message I might have fallen asleep on. I don’t reply right away of course, I open my social media accounts and check for notifications; I have mine turned off. I don’t really scroll extensively through twitter or Instagram, I just scan; I’m barely awake after all. I then check the news, CNN’s top 5 things for your morning more often than any other outlet. This is part of my morning routine, before I even stretch and yawn, brush my teeth, or have breakfast.

But, what did I used to do before I had the world at my fingertips as soon as I woke?

I’ve had a cellphone since 2006, but not a smart phone. I couldn’t even text, or answer phone calls until after 7 p.m. I didn’t rely on it to cure my boredom while I rode the bus, keep me busy in a waiting room, or even make the grocery line seem to go faster. I didn’t have a smart phone until 2010,  a sophomore in high school. I didn’t sleep with my phone plugged into my veins as if it were my lifeline then. When my phone dies in the middle of the night, because I am too lazy to plug it in, I wake up with it out of juice and get a glimpse of what I used to do. I have only my thoughts to gather, not read someone else’s. I have what I dreamed to reflect on, before my tiny phone screen would cause me to instantaneously forget. I plug my phone in, and have the morning more intimately to myself. It takes about ten minutes for the phone to turn back on when it’s out of juice, right? This didn’t happen often enough for me to realize I enjoy it more than not.

Please don’t misread me, I thoroughly enjoy social media. I love that is has given everyone the opportunity to become writers, photographers, story tellers, window to see the world through someone else’s eyes, but mostly because it brings the entire world population closer together. We are able to not just share ideas and opinions, but the truth that sometimes the media doesn’t want to focus on. I don’t just appreciate the opportunities it gives us to create favorable content, I’m grateful for it. This is how social media is supposed to be used, not as competition or concern with how many favorites or likes your content has.

For this reason alone I have chosen to keep Facebook, deleting my entire online existence isn’t what I am interested in. Facebook has become my favorite social media outlet, because of the content shared, the opinions and ideas written. I love reading the articles my friends feel worthy of being looked at, I love sharing my blog posts, and I love having a method of communication with my family out of the country. However, I will delete the app from my phone so I can only access it when I am on a computer. I live in a generation where everyone is comfortable staring at their phone during a dinner looking at a picture of someone else’s food instead of giving their full attention to their own food, so why decide to take myself out of the social norm?

“In an age where we have access to so many resources to satisfy our intellectual curiosities, I feel like I don’t articulate how I actually feel about something before it eventually leaves my mind entirely.”

My friend Sam Blissard wrote that in his own blog post about having a sensory overload from not just social media, but from his hobbies like movies, videogames and music. Since I read his insight, I’ve came to realize that I don’t give my own thoughts enough time to be thoughts either unless I’m in the shower. That might be hard to believe since I have this blog, which serves the purpose of expressing them; however looking back on 2015 I didn’t write as much as I know I am capable of. I didn’t meet my 50 book goal last year, I didn’t write more than 1/3 of my book, I didn’t improve extensively in my watercolor painting like I thought I would, I didn’t feel like I went on an adventure unless I had photo evidence and shared it with the public, but I don’t want to continue writing about everything I fell short on. I want to write about how I’m going to succeed at them this year.

By getting rid of the amount of time my concentration is on my phone, I feel as if I’m going to really let my thoughts breathe and take a more substantial shape. I’ll be able to go on an adventure and really take it in just for me, not others. I’ll write a blog post of a trip I took, not just post photos to see how many people thought it was cool. I want to workout and get a hot bod but not seek for approval of my progress online. Decreasing the amount of time I use by checking my phone will hopefully improve the short attention span our generation is heavily suffering from, I don’t want my patience to fall victim next. I want to read books and complete my goal, and collect them on my shelf, not on a book online log. When I go to sleep I daydream about my novels, but only for a short amount of time because I’m on my phone until my eyelids get tired; this will increase that time. All my ideas come right before I go to sleep, setting my phone across the room will be a habit I’ll have to get used to.

As I said, it isn’t just social media, it’s hobbies like Sam described. I’m not going to watch any Netflix series this year, don’t rid me of my movies though I’m a movie junkie, but I want to give myself more time to dedicate to my other hobbies. Primarily writing of course, and reading; but I want to improve painting, I want to take up yoga, and I want to learn how to play the piano.

Above all however, I want my thoughts to breathe. I don’t imagine my online internet hiatus will be permanent, especially with the career I’m heading into. But when I’m watching a movie with a friend and they have to ask me what’s going on because they haven’t looked up from their phone screen, or when the car swerves because the driver has to refresh her timeline, or when someone runs right into me because they can’t see where they’re going because their attention is in their fingers instead of the world around them, I get the impression my hiatus will end up being permanent. I want my friends to tell me about the concert they went to, not assume I know just because I saw them post a video. When I look into the future, I don’t want to be a thirty year old mom posting pictures of her child for someone to have an opinion on before they could even meet him in person. Time came out with an article that our generation are much more extremely concerned with how other parents view them than ever before, because they share every bit of their lives online.

We’re a generation as Time described as very, “Me, Me, ME!” I want to prove them wrong, I want us to prove them wrong. We are not lazy because the access to resources and entertainment are more easily accessible, we can choose to use our time effectively too. I want to learn how to not rely on my phone to cure a second of boredom, I want to be able to sit and think. Again, I don’t want people to get the impression that I despise social media, I just need a break. My thoughts need a break to be thoughts, this is the year I have been waiting for since I graduated high school. This is the year that I graduate college, and figure out the first part of my professional journey, I have a feeling my thoughts need to be as raw as they possibly can, as I want them to be. If I want to accomplish my resolutions, my goals, and my dreams, I know this is one of the steps I am more than now glad to make.

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