I did a social media fast in 2019. The book Deep Work, by Cal Newport, which I read in 2016, first put the idea in my head. I read his next book, Digital Minimalism, during my fast. I thought I would love a book focussed on the ruinous effect social media has on productivity, but it was a rehash of Deep Work’s best chapters. Skip it.
The fast went well, but I did miss interacting with people online. I came back toward the end of October because Mikey needed to create a social media account for a theology class–a flimsy excuse to return if ever there was one. My microscopic community on my tiniest sliver of the internet welcomed me back with open arms. I was happy; I stayed.
The end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 were quiet in my section of Instagram, where I spent most of my social media time. I scrolled and posted pictures. In February 2020, a health situation in China hit the news. By March, I checked Twitter obsessively. On March 13, 2020, our Bishop closed the Diocesan school campuses. Online learning began, and so did my obsession with Instagram. I began documenting our days sheltered in place for our family Chatbooks. Day 1, day 38, day 76, day 162, and today, day 217.
As the days went on, the sense of disquietude online increased. Everyone was right, no one was wrong, and calumny abounded. I could almost hear the familiar click-clack of an ascending roller coaster. That stretch of a roller coaster is called a lift-hill, where a mechanical device carries the cart up an incline to an elevation high enough where gravity can propel the cart down and forward. Social media was my lift-hill. It brought me to a peek and waited for gravity to do the rest.
I need a break from the roller coaster, so I am stepping back from social media for an indeterminate amount of time. I did not do it sooner because there were two things about my 2019 fast that I disliked.
I felt disconnected and forgotten. I felt excluded from the goings-on of my extended family because I wasn’t on social media. My number one concern this time around is keeping up with the lives of my nieces. One is away at college, and three are at home. My solution is to become the annoying aunt who texts for updates and “pictures, please!”
I also lost my community. Before Instagram became my sinking quagmire, it was a fun place to talk with people about books, food, and my goal to live like an eccentric British grandmother with a weekend home. If I retreat entirely from the internet, I can no longer share pictures of rooms festooned with chintz. I was really at a loss trying to figure out how to keep calm and share on until yesterday when I saw this post from Kelly Rae Roberts. She shared her hopes, fears (in a touchy-feely tone I am incapable of), and solutions, which I promptly adopted as my own. I do not have a newsletter, storefront, IG store page, or an online class, but I do have a blog I pay for monthly. Might as well use it!
Blogging seems like as good a compromise as any. I am still online, hopefully talking to people with similar interests, but away from the melee happening in social media. Most important of all, I can still share aspirational eccentric-grandmother-with-a-weekend home images. And on that note…
Buckle up, everyone. There is way more chintz where that came from, and I am just getting started. I hope you stick around for a far more floral and far less exciting/bumpy/contentious ride.