I Did a 30-Day Social/News Media Detox And Something Unexpected Happened
I didn’t feel happier. As a matter of fact, I felt lousy. I felt off-balance. I felt disconnected from the world. I felt disconnected from me, but I found social/news media wasn’t the problem.
I ended up learning something about myself. Let me explain.
Thirty days ago I set off on a journey—by eliminating any social and news media I thought my happiness would improve. I had become obsessed with checking notifications, reading every negative article and just mindlessly scrolling. I felt it was inhibiting my happiness. All these negative thoughts and articles were manifesting this negative energy within me, creating a stagnate, sometimes bitchy, me. I read so many articles pointing to this. I thought for sure this was it.
The days passed. At first, I felt rejuvenated. I felt lighter, even. I felt control. More importantly, I felt inspired to read more about creating happiness. Why not? Now that I’m not scrolling I have more time, right?
Then I leveled out.
Then I started to feel the same stagnation.
So, maybe it is something else. I had to reassess.
Let’s start over. When did I begin having these feelings? Where are they coming from? Then, it clicked.
I think constantly. I can’t turn my brain off. It’s always asking questions and requires constant stimulation. I hate to be bored. You don’t need to diagnose me. I managed it well. I organized my thoughts into folders in my brain and pulled them out when I needed them.
After I had Carraway, my son, the way I organized thoughts changed. For some reason, chemical or otherwise, I haven’t been as efficient at doing so after Carraway. Now, I need more quiet time to reorganize, or, just let certain thoughts go. Too much stimuli. Too much thinking. Too much giving a f*ck about stuff I shouldn’t give a f*ck about. So, I began searching for distractions—social media, news media. Not actively. It just happened. I got pulled in.
At the onset of this experiment, I just knew that my mindless scrolling and news browsing was inhibiting my happiness. I thought it was creating additional pressure on my already overwhelmed mind. But no, I sought social media/news media to distract me from my thoughts because I was overwhelmed and the scrolling was, well, so mindless.
It is me! I am the problem. I have just been using social/news media as a distraction to clear my overwhelmed mind.
I use mindless scrolling and news browsing as a way to shut my brain off. When I took those “breaks” away I felt great at first. New ideas, new things to do and experience. Then it became too much. I felt the overwhelming pressure that I have become terrible at managing. 10x worse because I eliminated my quiet time.
In essence, I have lost my grit, the one thing I have always been so proud of. It wasn’t having a baby, it wasn’t this or that. I simply lost my grit. I found an easy distraction and took it. I have lost focus. I need to reorganize. I’m accepting too many ideas. I’m not organizing my thoughts in the little folders in my mind. FOCUS.
Why did I lose focus?
I’ve had some time to think on this, but I caught on pretty quickly. I’m tired. No, exhausted. I have worked very hard to get where I am today and I feel so far away from the place I expected to be at this point in my life. Rejections from literary agents, rejections for dream jobs and just feeling tired takes its toll after some time. You lose some of your ambitious spirit. You lose your grit. You lose it all. It turns into a vicious cycle.
This led me to researching the art of happiness, which frankly, didn’t help. Fixating on achieving your happiness makes it impossible to reach your happiness. Why? Because the pursuit of happiness is an endless pursuit, setting you up for disappointment. You always think you need better. At least everyone tells you that you do.
Which is bullshit. Why am I reading a book about happiness? This person’s version of happiness may be completely different than mine. No one can define your happiness and you shouldn’t strive for someone else’s definition of happiness. Steve Jobs once said,
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the nose of others’ opinion drown out your own inner voice.”
Am I going to stop reading books about happiness? Am I going to stop writing about achieving happiness? No. They still inspire me to find my own happiness. I’m just not going to take them so literally, imagining that practicing yoga every morning at 4AM will make me happier. Can I get an amen? Be unapologetically you.
So what do I do from here?
Drink my own cup of tea. I have fallen prey to my mind, which craves constant stimulation. I need to control it. I need to reach that peak focus I used to achieve. I have written about simplicity before. I need to live it. To reach success I must decide what it is I want to achieve. I need to pick that dream and live that dream instead of half assing a few of them because you literally don’t have the time, energy or resources to give to all. I must finally say goodbye to these other dreams. But, how do you kill a dream? How do you choose?
Funny how tackling a digital detox led me down a rabbit hole.
As far as social media/news media goes—I missed my news. I missed pics of my family and updates on all the new babies! I’m bringing it back, BUT I will be eliminating the groups and people that postnegative material. I will be choosey. Also, because it is a distraction, I will limit my involvement. You likely won’t see me on social media throughout the day.
Call to Action
Try your own digital detox. It’s interesting what you will learn about yourself once you remove distractions.