Our youngest daughter came to stay with us for a few days over Christmas. One of the first things she did was get on my computer to she could browse my Facebook account. “I have to check your Facebook to get a good laugh, Mom,” she explained.
Since I only get on Facebook to check up on my kids and grandkids and to post an article now and then, my daughter knows the ins and outs of my home page better than I do.
Apparently I have some friends who post hilarious things. I agree. I think I’ve “un-friended” anything that is offensive to me and I probably “like” things that lift my spirit. As a result, my home page is filled with funny animal videos, fitness posts, goofy grandkid sayings, amazing vistas and musical talent that cannot be surpassed. No wonder my daughter has to come and check out my Facebook page.
In recent months, I’ve read or heard a lot about social media “fasts” or unplugging to unwind or finding freedom from the fake by unplugging. I even stumbled upon a teenager giving a Ted talk about her social media fast. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM3KIvZO5oU.
Then I found another online article giving eight great reasons to “break up” with social media: https://www.lifehack.org/318316/8-things-that-will-happen-you-break-with-social-media.
Here’s a quick review. The article says you will be happier, more productive, more innovative, smarter and wiser. You will experience more beauty in the world and in relationships; and your future self will be grateful you did this. Well, what’s to lose?
I tried it for a couple of weeks and this is what I experienced.
I learned that I don’t know how to use social media — except an occasional glance through Facebook. I believe my high school students use Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr and other forms of social media that I don’t know anything about; so, I don’t use them.
I had no desire to get onto Facebook until I decided to stop using it for two weeks.
I got e-mail notices that my children decided to do grandkid posts on Facebook during those two weeks; when they hadn’t posted in weeks ... but I didn’t cheat and look. I decided to wait.
I didn’t save or gain any time for myself, since I didn’t write any articles so I didn’t have a need to get online and post anything.
I kind of missed my funny “friends.” I’m sure I wouldn’t have missed anything had I not been thinking about what I was missing.
I continued to find beauty and gratitude in my life every day.
I still enjoyed phone calls with family and friends. I didn’t consider phone calls to be social media.
I still had no desire to learn about other forms of social media.
But I could hardly wait to get back onto Facebook and look at the new pictures of my grandkids.
That is the rundown of the eight or nine epiphanies I gained from my social media fast.
In other words, I learned that I am lucky to have wonderful friends and family that post fun and uplifting things on social media for me and others to enjoy.
Not everyone is so lucky.
I think of the high school students I teach that can be devastated over a post or snap. They sometimes lose sleep, or confidence or joy by spending hours on their devices deeply absorbing what others say and display.
After observing some of the negative effects of indulging in social media, I’ve taught students and grandkids that they need to stick to a few rules to use social media effectively.
Set a reasonable social media time limit and stick to it.
Choose your “friends” wisely by viewing only those things that make you feel good about yourself.
Be civil and appropriate in your own posts, remembering your Mom might read them.
If you ever feel like posting something anonymously, don’t do it. You will regret it later if you do; and you can’t undo something that has already been posted.
If you view something online that makes you feel bad, pay attention to that feeling. Decide to log off and put your attention on something more productive or beautiful.
I guess I am lucky that I was born a generation too early to be fully engaged in social media. I deeply appreciate the truly wonderful people in my life that work to keep their media profiles uplifting and helpful. I think it’s time to spend my allotted 20 minutes looking at my “friends’” funny and beautiful posts. They can always lift my spirits.