In the month of July we invited our customers and audience to participate in a social media reset where we deleted all of our social media apps and platforms and abstained from using them for the 31 days of July.
I chose July because it is the month within the summer where school doesn't typically begin or end and it is a time usually filled with family time, vacations, travel or breaks of some form or fashion for most people. I knew that we would all learn valuable lessons by stepping away from social media for a consistent amount of time. What I didn't know was how much more free and creative I would become and feel within the 31 day reset.
Social Media Boundaries Before the Reset
Prior to the reset I thought that my social media boundaries were stellar. I have a separate cell phone for work so that it does not ever come into my personal life and vice versa. I limit my follower count to less than 80 people (and typing that now feels like at least 50 people too many), I utilize social 99.9% for business and provide far more than I consume, I used to log in during designated times only and my only form of social media is Instagram (I have a Facebook account for business purposes and will occasionally use the marketplace to sell and shop. I have not had the Facebook app on my phone in over 3 years).
Nevertheless, even with my intentional social media use the July reset showed me one thing clearly: I did not miss Instagram in the slightest.
I did not miss knowing what workout someone did (or sharing which workout I did), I didn't miss photos of outfits, vacations, meals, inspiring quotes, witty reels and the like. I missed nothing. One reason is that the people I enjoy most I've connected with outside of Instagram, I'm either on their email list and read their emails, have connected with them offline and we communicate outside of social, follow their blogs and read their posts or one person in particular I am in her motherhood community so I am able to stay connected there.
What I know to be true is that the best things in life happen off of social media. A second thing I know is that while you can make very meaningful introductions to people on social media, if relationship or deeper connection is what you aim for, it must go beyond the likes, comments and DMs.
One of the reasons I didn't miss Instagram/social media is because I did not lose community and connection with our Best Today® audience. Our Best Today® Community was at an all time high with engagement (which we attribute in part to the social media reset and people being more connected off of social), we also communicate with our audience 2-3 times a week via email and at least once a week through text and those communications always result in conversations with our customers.
We did not lack when it came to staying connected with our audience. If anything, we were more connected than ever and the connections were more substantive and meaningful.
I knew the power of community before the reset, community is one of our core offerings. This reset, however, further proved my belief that people are longing for something deeper than likes, comments and superficial glances at moments in time in the lives of strangers.
I Put the Phone Down
I devoured books more than usual all month long and found myself not only spending less time (no time) on social but with my phone in general. I realized that the primary reason my phone was with me during the week was to access social media or to document something to share on social (all for work). I also noticed that I picked up my phone less with my family. I am usually the one to take photos of all the things but something about this reset distanced me and my phone. I have SO many memories from July that were captured solely in my heart and eyes and I know those memories are better stored there than my iPhone photo cloud.
The gift of the social media reset was a reset in so many other areas. My phone usage was down over 50% within two weeks and by the end of the month my phone usage was minimal at best.
One of the Best Today® Community members shared that she read the book 24/6 during the reset, I picked it up from the library and read it within 48 hours. In the book author Tiffany Shlain explains how her family shuts down all screens for 24 hours each week for a tech Shabbat as a way to reset on a consistent and weekly basis. She shares the hows and whys as well as gives great insight on the role and effects of technology in our daily lives. I found these words particularly worthy of our attention:
"24/7 technology is bad for us and. bad for the culture. We rush to fill any unstructured moment we have with work and entertainment, feeds and updates, pulling out devices that distract us from bigger-picture thinking. We're constantly reaction and responding without reflection. We've created a culture where we've all but relinquished our free time. We need to reclaim it."
We need to reclaim it! A social media reset, I believe, is an effective first step in reclaiming our lives and time.
One other point that I found compelling in 24/6 is the comparison of screens to cigarettes. Shlain writes that screens are the new cigarettes addicting a culture.
Interestingly, I began reading another book about digital consumption and there is also discussion about our digital use as behavioral addiction. In Digital Minimalism author Cal Newport writes, "[a]ddiction is a condition in which a person engages in use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences."
Sometimes the addiction you have is only evident when you remove the thing from your life and see how much space it has opened up for you. When you see (and maybe feel) how much space that thing took up in your life.
I cannot go back to the way that things were. I'm still in the process of re-evaluating my relationship and use of Instagram but what I know is that my use of Instagram will be diminished down to something slightly above nothing at all and below daily interaction.
Since the July reset ended, I have logged on twice--once to respond to the missed messages and comments and a second time to upload a pre-written post (I don't create my posts in Instagram, I use another tool to upload photos and captions which helps me to spend less time on Instagram and type my captions on the computer ahead of time).
I have yet to get on to consume anything and I don't know if I will anytime soon or ever. Time will tell. This slow re-entry is what feels best and I am taking my time to come up with what works best for me personally and professionally.
A few concluding thoughts...
One of the reasons that I decided earlier this year that we would do this July reset (this has been planned since near the top of 2022) is because I've seen the negative effects social media has in the lives of women. The constant comparison, the feelings of inadequacy, not enough-ness, and inferiority that comes from scrolling on apps that are not created to benefit you in living a healthy and intentional life is a trap. Sure, you may have read an inspiring quote, watched an act of kindness in a viral video and found a healthy recipe or two on social media; but that does nothing for the way in which social media consumption has caused so many to believe that everyone is living a better, more ideal life than you.
Almost daily I share and teach the message of the importance of getting clear on who you are and what you want as the foundation for living a life of intention. Taking time away from social media is one sure way to help you to do this work of gaining clarity on who you are and what you want. Spending too much time on it is one sure way to become more confused about both.
What's more, social media has not aided us in being more social. Instead, social media has created a misunderstanding of what relationships look like and what it means to really know someone. Knowing what someone wore each day in the week or what their new dining room looks like does not equate to knowing them. The lines are blurred and I've watched people treat and address strangers as if they were owed something by them (I've also experienced this first hand).
I've watched people think they have a right to have a say in other peoples' lives and their life choices and it is weird to put it lightly. But beyond the weird factor it shows how social media has an adverse effect on allowing us to be social--friendly, companions, relational, connected. How many times have you watched tables at restaurants where people sitting next to, and across from, one another are physically present but staring deeply into their phones? This concerns me as a person who values relationships (and of course I have been guilty as charged for being held hostage to an app in the presence of friends and family).
AN INVITATION TO TRY A SOCIAL MEDIA RESET
These are some of the thoughts on my mind as it relates to our social media use as a culture and why I am grateful for the July social media reset. If you have not tried a reset taking 30+ days off of social media, I highly recommend it.
If you think you can't do it, that is the best evidence that you need it. If you are more like me and think, "I've got a great handle on social media already," do it! You will learn more than you think. I did.
I recommend listening to episode 68 of the Best Today® Podcast where I share why a social reset may be right for you. And episode 74 where I share my reflections and the reflections of our Community members a little over halfway through the month of July. In September I will record an update episode of the Best Today® Podcast as I continue to evaluate in real-time my relationship and use of Instagram/social media (Instagram will continue to be the only form of social media that I use if any).
I would love to hear your thoughts and reflections on this post. Let's talk in the Best Today® Community!