My social media sabbatical

I recently decided to take a break from all social media. I was inspired by fellow designer Lisa Canning who did something similar earlier this year. I finally decided to take the plunge - No checking-in!! No Instagram, No Twitter and No Facebook. 

WHY I DID IT

I have always had a love / hate relationship with "social". I love how it can connect people and like-minded professionals. I have met and exchanged ideas with some fantastic designers and decorators with whom I wouldn't otherwise have connected with. I've found incredible employees through it and even clients.

But then there's the negative side. The constant need to see what everyone else is up to. Both professionally and personally. Who's having that second baby? where did they go on vacation? Damn they have such a good tan, who's had the recent magazine feature? who's working on an incredible new design project... The seconds of checking in turn into minutes and accumulate into hours over week's time. I would check-in first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. It bugged me. How else could I be spending that time? It was for these reasons that I wanted to take a break. To take a pause from the constant social check-ins. Constant comparisons and constant time-sucking!

Why did I need to know everyone else's EVERY FILTERED move? And why did I need to check my phone for every missed post when I could be playing with my beautiful baby or exercising, or getting together with real friends in person or, or or.... So I decided to take a break and see how it felt. I was also about to go on holiday for 2 weeks in Europe and the timing couldn't be more perfect.

WHAT I LEARNED

My life wasn't better or worse without social media. It was just different.

One post telling everyone that I was taking a break and I felt a sense of relief - the world knew I was un-reachable and so they didn't bug me. The urge to check my phone died a lot faster than I expected. But the urge to take an Instagram-worthy picture was harder to shake. In my travels I would constantly catch my brain saying "ooohh that's a great Instagram shot". As time went on though the urge weakened and I started to relax and even use my real camera to capture real memories. I would leave my phone behind and not check-in all day. The urge to participate in social media slowly died. It was a very freeing feeling. 

Cruising in Kracow with my main man

Cruising in Kracow with my main man

Instagram-worthy cafe table-scape

Instagram-worthy cafe table-scape

Instagram-worthy moment from my first day in Europe

Instagram-worthy moment from my first day in Europe

I also learned that just because I had tuned out of the social world and was essentially a cellphone-less hippie, not everyone else was in the same boat. I started to notice the people around me using their phones. Whereas before I'd check my phone while others did at a restaurant or while waiting in line. No I was alone while everyone else was on their phones.  I was forced to be with my thoughts and instead of picking up my phone like the others to quickly google something or check-in on social, I used the time to reflect on my surroundings and be in the moment. It was hard at first but then felt refreshing. 

The greatest downside to being dis-connected was being left out of what was happening, I'm embarrassed to say that I even missed a few friends birthdays. I didn't realize how much I relied on Facebook to keep me in the loop. 

Mostly it was a great experience to disengage.  I still felt connected to the most important people in my life and I enjoyed having all those extra minutes in the day to simply reflect and be present with those around me. 

For anyone considering taking a break from social media or even quitting it all together, I highly suggest trying a sabbatical. Taking the time to disconnect in order to re-connect is truly a breath of fresh air.

Now as I step back into the social world it feels a bit like jumping into a moving train.  I will try to take what I learned from my sabbatical and find balance in the check-ins and 

Rebecca Hay