Recently, I feel my brain has been on complete overload. In between long stints at the computer working on my upcoming book release and homeschooling, I swear I started sparking! I guess that is what happens when full access to everything is at the tip of your fingers 24/7. I carry this little device around in my back pocket and with just one click, I can get directions, read the news and do a little cyber stalking- I mean, why would I not want to know every feeling everyone has had since their day started? Why would I not want to see yet another culinary creation of the ham and cheese?
So, I decided that I needed a few days of total disconnect. I knew that it would be difficult because my work is so closely connected to social media. In order to avoid falling into the author abyss, I prescheduled my articles for the dates I needed them to go out and I powered down. What happened next was almost too terrifying to write about but everyone deserves to hear the horrible things that happened when I took a social media sabbatical. Are you ready? Brace yourselves.
Nothing happened. I mean absolutely nothing. Of course I missed a few invites to play "8 Ball Pool" and I sadly missed the chance to admire the billionth duck-lip selfie so many love to posts. But ultimately, I found that my time was better spent doing other things. Here are five things that did happened when I powered down.
1. Instead of posting my memories, I participated in them
We literally are a society that posts every little detail of our lives. We post when we are on vacation. We post when we are on dates with our spouses. We post when our children are sick and at the doctor's office. In fact, I am afraid we are so busy posting that we forget we need to be participating. I am discovering that there are some things in my life that I want to keep private. There are memories being made with my children that I don't want to share. The rare opportunities I have with my husband alone don't need to be spent taking pictures of the food at the restaurant but instead spent in deep conversation and appreciation for the man God placed in my life.
I will confess there are mornings when I wake up and the first thing I do is grab my phone. I do a quick sweep of my social media pages and then I check emails. Oh look, another coupon for 10% of my next purchase. How would I have made it through the day without that email? In my brief stint offline, I learned that we must be intentional about what we allow to shape our day. I don't want the first thing my heart and mind meditate on to be everyone else's thoughts, memories and opinions. When I began my days on my knees, my whole perspective was different the rest of the day. My heart and mind were set on things above and I can assure you it drastically change my entire path for the day.
When things happened and life wasn't going my way, I hit my knees and not the share button.
3. I was productive
And by productive, I do not mean in an "I pinned 400 new Pinterest recipes" productive. I feel it's just easier to get lost in the social media world than deal with my world. Sometimes, when I have lots to do, I find myself retreating instead of dealing. I will admit that I can get drawn in by the easy access and before I know it I have been online much longer than I intended.
My guess is others do this exact thing. When I put down the phone, I realized I had a lot of idle time that was used to surf the web. It gets to a point which you have to acknowledge that your lack of productivity is greatly related to your focus. At some time, we must push the distractions aside and get the tasks done.
4. I stopped comparing every second of my life to everyone else's
I am a firm believer that our lack of personal productivity can be attributed to our excessive focus on everyone else. I follow a lot of writers and bloggers. Sometimes after seeing their accomplishments, I start to question myself. The comparisons are quicksand to me. I can assure you when I let the doubts creep in my life, I get nothing done. A lot of us look at social media and think the same thing.
I've accomplished nothing significant.
If I only had what they have.
Their lives are so perfect compared to mine.
Social media can be a lot of smoke and mirrors. It is easy to post a perfect family picture or only share the good times. Though we should be happy for the success of others, we need to remind ourselves that we only see what someone chooses to post. There is always another side to the story.
You read that I said learning, not learned. I have always had a love-hate relationship with social media. I hate the control it can have on my life but I love the freedom it provides to share and connect. In the world we live in, I find it almost impossible to completely go off the grid and if I am honest, I don't want to. I enjoy being able to log on and see what my friends are doing. Sometimes I don't even mind a post of the latest culinary masterpiece of my friends. I enjoy sharing an occasional picture and accomplishment with those that are far away and rely on the web to stay connected.
Social media connects and it's not all bad. But we, as the connector, have to find a balance. There is a life out there that deserves living and it's not always in front of a computer screen.
Sarah is a Christian Author and Speaker. She wrote the parenting book, "Walking the Talk: A Parent's Guide to Intimacy and Healthy Relationships" and maintains the blog A Life Inspired. Her passion is to equip the next generation of families to speak boldly and walk confidently in their faith and charge as parents. You can stay up to date with Sarah on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.