10-Day Social Media Detox
How can you run a business these days without spending a considerable amount of time on social media?
How can you build your brand or your service without putting yourself out there multiple times a day?
After all, anyone who’s been to any online marketing course will know that “content is king” And from the content I see on my feeds, “content” for the most part is... well... you.
When it comes to social media, I was an early adopter. I got onto Facebook in the days when you needed an institutional affiliation to get an account. Back then it was an exciting new way to keep in touch with friends without having to use my Nokia 3205i - yes the one where you could create your own cut-out covers. I started sharing photos of my recipes on Instagram way back when the Lo-Fi and Nashville filters were still cool.
With the ability to interconnect so many people and host an unfathomable amount of content, it was only going to be a matter of time before social media became commodified and monetised. From allowing us to build and engage with a relevant audience, to opening channels for direct marketing, to building our brand, social media continues to be a powerful business tool. And what exactly do we sell? We sell our lifestyles, our products and ourselves. We sell hope, inspiration and aspiration.
So why did I need a social media detox? Not long ago, I found myself at a pivotal crossroad in both my personal and professional life. With lots of change happening, I began to wonder whether I was comfortable with some of the ways myself and others engaged with the platforms.
Want to inspire people? "Babe, how many followers do you have?"
Want to promote a cruelty-free lifestyle? "Babe, are you a brand ambassador?"
Want to share your art? "Babe what’s your reach and your engagement?"
Want to encourage people to practice mindfulness and meditation? "Babe, make sure you record your daily practice on your story!"
We learn that to be relevant in our business, social or passion pursuits, we need to be seen. And with a market so saturated with everyone trying to be seen, we need to increase our output and frequency. This leads to all sorts of behaviour like taking your phone everywhere you go, just to make sure you can capture content.
Even as a viewer/consumer, the amount of time we mindlessly scroll through our feeds for bite-sized morsels of stimulation is astounding. I challenge you to record the amount of times you reach for your phone in a day to open up your social apps; I think it may surprise you.
Of course it isn’t all doom and gloom. There’s a whole lot of positive social impact, inspiration and information sharing that can be facilitated through social media. These tools can help us reach more people than ever before and encourage meaningful and progressive change.
But if you’re out there actively sharing and viewing content, it can be way too easy get sucked into the vortex and lose sight of what you’re really there for. It’s kind of like walking into a room and forgetting why you’re there, then you end up doing something completely different and before you know it, you’ve watched a whole season of Narcos when you were actually just looking for a pen.
I think the difficulty is when we are unable to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not, when we lose touch with the actual reasons we are engaging with the platforms in the fist place.
Below are a few things I noticed about myself that led to me embarking upon a 10-Day Social Media Detox:
• I would kid myself by negating the fact that scientifically, we all get little dopamine hits every time someone “likes” our stuff, which creates a subtle addiction to that feedback loop.
• I would say that I understood how highly curated someone’s social media output was, but I would still compare myself to them and feel like I should be “better” or I was somehow lacking in comparison.
• I would find myself completely not present with my loved ones because I needed to finish a post or get my caption all the way right.
• I would mindlessly scroll through my feed, with no particular objective, wasting precious minutes in my day.
• I would start to believe in the version of me that I shared online, which was always going to be a somewhat limited, 2D version of my highly complex 3D self.
• My identity started to meld with my business and my brand.
• I started to think that I had to keep sharing aspects of my life to help people make positive changes.
So, after 6 years of promoting my work through social media platforms, I decided to take a break and see if I could find a new way to relate to all of it. Sadhana had transitioned from a bricks and mortar café within that period, to an online lifestyle platform, so you could say the timing was great.
What exactly does a Social Media Detox involve?
1. Delete all social media apps from your phone
2. Block social media websites from your browsers
3. Do not access social media during the detox period. At all.
That’s it, pretty simple right? One would think so, but once put into practice here were a few things I noticed right away:
• I checked my phone to open facebook, instagram or messenger in excess of 12 times in a day. On the first day, my friend texted me to see how I was going on the detox. I said great considering I forgot to delete the apps from the phone the night before and I hadn’t even once tried to open them! Right after I sent that text, I found myself opening facebook messenger out of sheer habit.
• I suddenly had a lot more capacity for creativity. I have a daily meditation practice anyway, which helps me stay mindful, but having no access to social media really freed up energy, focus and creative juices.
• A lot of people who would contact me through social platforms fell away from my life, kind of like phones didn’t exist and they didn’t have my number, even though they did. It really helped me see whom I had reciprocally nourishing relationships with.
• I was a lot more present in every human interaction. The face-to-face interactions I was having were enriched with my undivided attention. Until then I had not realised how distracted I may have come across to most people.
• My anxiety levels dropped significantly. I attribute this to a reduction in unnecessary information and stimuli. I had space to sit with my own thoughts and understand them.
• I started to become much less concerned about what other people thought, and prior to this detox, I wouldn’t have classified myself as someone who worried about that anyway.
• I now had time and space to live much more purposely rather than reactively.
The last point was probably the greatest blessing. Since being offline, I have implemented some beautiful practices that have really enhanced my wellbeing and thus the quality of my work too. Sadhana means conscious spiritual practice and I didn’t realise how far I had strayed from having a consistent and conscious daily practice.
As I write this I am 27 days into my Social Media Detox. After the first 10 days, I loved it so much that I didn’t want to stop. Since I started, I have learnt some really positive new habits and kicked a bunch of old ones that really weren’t serving me. I’ve shown up more than I ever have with my loved ones and have experienced more clarity, creativity and innovation than the last 6 years combined.
And so I put it to you, are you interested in a Social Media Detox? What are your excuses?
I had countless excuses for not being able to do it, I thought I couldn’t keep running my business, I thought I wouldn’t be able to serve and help others. I’ve since re-launched Sadhana as an online platform and shared a bunch of content without having to re-activate my accounts.
Do you think you could benefit from a little time offline? If so, I would love to share my practices with you!
In the next instalment, I’ll share my top practices for supporting a social media detox, how you can easily get started and report on my learnings and experiences after 30 days offline.