≡ Menu

Why I’m Scaling Back on Social Media

Photo by Tammy Strobel

The Coffee Bar is my favorite cafe in Redding, CA. It has an old-time vibe, and it’s got a sweet motorcycle theme. In November, I had an opportunity to spend time there. Earlier that day, I had dropped my mom off at the doctor for a standard procedure. Rather than waiting for my mom at the doctor’s office, I decided to go to The Coffee Bar. I ordered a coffee, along with prosciutto and toast, and hunkered down with my treats at a corner table.

My morning plans didn’t include surfing the Internet or Instagram. Instead, I wanted to read the Flow Mindfulness Workbook, journal, mindmap projects for 2017, and people watch. Yet, as I sipped my coffee and munched on my toast, I had a strong urge to open Instagram.

Thankfully, I didn’t log onto Instagram. Instead, I turned my phone off, put it inside my backpack, and began writing in my journal. Here’s a portion of my journal entry from the day:

“I feel like I’ve rewired my brain to constantly check Instagram, and that doesn’t feel good. I need to let my mind wander, not check Instagram every two seconds. Also, my desire to constantly check Instagram is annoying! My old twitch is back—it’s time to rethink how I use social media. Oh, and I need to read Deep Work again.”

A few days later, I was reading the New York Times’ Morning Briefing. (It’s delivered to my inbox, Monday through Friday, and I love it!) Anyway, Cal Newport’s op-ed—Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.—was featured in the briefing. Talk about serendipitous timing! Cal’s article was helpful, and the essay reaffirmed why I’m scaling back on social media.

Here’s how I’m managing my various social media accounts as well as some thoughts about my decision-making process:

  • I’m no longer using my personal Facebook page. To stay in touch with friends and family, I prefer talking on the phone, texting, reading their blog posts (or email updates), sending letters, and having conversations in person. However, I haven’t deleted my Facebook account because I’m still utilizing my Facebook Fan page to share my daily photo, blog posts, and other news with lovely readers.
  • To avoid information overload, political rants, and the trap of trying to keep up with everyone, I’m following fewer people on Twitter and Instagram. Now I’m reading blog posts and the news at specific times.
  • Currently, I log onto social media once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Also, I’ve incorporated the following habits into my routine; all of which have decreased my crazy twitch to log onto the Internet:

  • Before I Google a person, topic, book, or research interest, I write the information down in my notebook. Then, I’ll search for the information at a designated time.
  • When I feel the urge to check social media, I ask myself why. Usually, the twitch emerges when I’m feeling uncomfortable or unsure about a certain project.
  • If I have spare time, I read books, magazines, essays, and blog posts. I don’t read on a Kindle anymore because I prefer paper books. However, Feedly is a handy tool to organize the blogs I enjoy reading.

For the last month, I’ve incorporated these ideas and habits into my creative routine. Overall, my new habits have made a difference in my daily life. The twitch to log onto Instagram, for example, is growing smaller and smaller every day. Also, I feel more creative, productive, grounded, and I’m not silently judging folks for sharing fake news stories on Facebook. It’s not my job to police Facebook. However, it’s essential to support journalists and to become a savvy news reader.

Despite my addiction to social media, I do find tremendous value in services like Instagram and Twitter. Social media is fun, and it’s a great place to find inspiration, friends, business opportunities, and more. However, I want to do deep work; doing that kind of works means I need designated blocks of focused time. Those time blocks don’t include social media. As Cal eloquently noted, “If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone, close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to work.”

With gratitude,
Tammy

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Linda Luke December 12, 2016, 9:46 am

    Thanks for this great reminder. I’m only active on Facebook, but check it 4 times a day along with my emails. Morning – lunch – after dinner – and before bed. After reading this post I am going to eliminate social media after I check at dinner time. I have my own business so the rest feel important for now.

    I also realized another addiction or should I say crutch is presenting itself. I have just moved from urban CA to a small town in Mo and in the process of fixing up my house, learning about preparing for weather, and technology issues, I find myself jumping into google search too often and too easily. Many times I can figure out the answer if I just give myself time and this is probably good for my brain too. So, I love your idea of writing down what I want to search and coming back to it later.
    Thanks for inspiring me regularly.

    • Tammy Strobel December 13, 2016, 3:37 pm

      Thanks for reading Linda!

  • Sharle Kinnear December 12, 2016, 9:53 am

    Hi Tammy! I applaud your decision, as I, too, have found myself using social media obsessively. Since the election, especially, I have discovered that it’s not in my best interests to read outrageous news or depressive rants. For my sanitys sake, I am trying to cut back on Facebook time. I started using it as a way to connect with people I care about, but it has evolved into more than I can handle. It is also a huge time waster, and I could/should be using that time in more productive and mentally healthy ways. Thanks for providing me with another wake-up call! Looking forward to whatever you post, whenever you post it. Sending you and your family my best wishes for a lovely Yule season…..

    • Tammy Strobel December 13, 2016, 3:39 pm

      Thank you Sharle! So far the experiment is going really well. I appreciate the kind comment.

  • Lisa December 12, 2016, 10:23 am

    I’m glad I came across this post. For a long time, I’ve also thought about my social media habits and how they’ve led to the erosion of my attention span. Lately, I’ve been using two habits to power my own “deep work”: working in “pomodoros” (25-minute time blocks) and putting my phone in airplane mode. These have made a huge difference in my productivity. But the devil is still there in terms of social media: it’s like a deep hole waiting to swallow me up.

    • Tammy Strobel December 13, 2016, 3:39 pm

      I love the idea of working in pomodoros sessions. Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

  • Cynthia December 12, 2016, 2:41 pm

    Great post, Tammy! I’m encouraged to see an increasing amount of people rethinking their use of social media. I think there is an assumption that social media does more good than it actually does, and is more useful than it actually is. Cal Newport makes some excellent points about social media and deep work on his blog and in his books; he’s definitely on to something! You may also enjoy these these reads:

    And their eyes glazed over:
    https://aeon.co/essays/can-students-who-are-constantly-on-their-devices-actually-learn

    I Used to Be a Human Being
    http://nymag.com/selectall/2016/09/andrew-sullivan-technology-almost-killed-me.html

    • Tammy Strobel December 13, 2016, 3:40 pm

      So true Cynthia. Thanks for links. I read “I Used to Be a Human Being” sometime last month. It’s worth reading again. I’ll check out the other essay, too. Thank you!

  • Emily December 12, 2016, 3:18 pm

    Hi Tammy,

    I love your blog but have never commented before. I felt compelled to today as it felt eerily as though you have got inside my head and eloquently explained what I find hard to communicate with others! Thankyou!
    In January this year, I decided to come off facebook, much to my friends’ annoyance and disbelief. Was I offended by someone/something? Was I being elitist? Was I being antisocial? The truth I found hardest to explain was that I hated how it made me feel.

    Whenever there was a spare moment in my life to sit and relax, the twitch to check facebook was enormous. I wasn’t even much of a commentor/liker- I just had an urge to mindlessly scroll. I didn’t like who I was becoming. I would silently judge people on silly posts and think to myself “Ugh. Get a life”. What I came to realise was that I was the one who needed to ‘get a life’ so to speak- to stop judging people and stop worrying about others lives and get on with living mine.

    It has been the most liberating year. I’ve missed a few events and some big announcements, but I generally found out about them in person in the end anyway, which was much nicer!

    Thankyou again for another inspiring post. I hope you have a wonderful festive season.

    • Tammy Strobel December 13, 2016, 3:43 pm

      Hi Emily, thank you for leaving a comment and for sharing a little bit of your story. I appreciate it. Happy holidays!

  • Suzannah Kolbeck December 12, 2016, 7:42 pm

    I, too, feel the siren call of the Social Media. I find that I need to be physically incapable of accessing the internet to help me curb the urge to compulsively check Instagram and Facebook (e.g., head to the tiny house where there is no internet signal and even a booster doesn’t help).

    I still like Instagram for sharing food pix and making local connections, but I am working on The Facebook Addiction. I fnd myself more drawn to it when I am lonely, feeling disconnected IRL, or avoiding something (like working on a second draft…).

    Oh, and side note, thank you for always having your links open a new window. It’s the little things. 🙂

  • Sandra December 12, 2016, 9:18 pm

    All good advice. I do feel that people are becoming dehumanized with all this social media pressure that they put upon themselves. It’s good to take a step back and see things differently and to see what is actually happening to us without realizing it!
    I do not use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram because I prefer to do other things with my time and have more personal contacts with others. I do however post my photos on Flickr and I do have a blog and do weekly blog posts, but I do become aware of checking out things too often. It is so easy to fall into that obsessive habit!
    I enjoyed your article!

    • Tammy Strobel December 13, 2016, 3:46 pm

      Thanks for reading Sandra! Have a great week. 🙂

  • Raven December 13, 2016, 8:17 am

    Tammy, you are so inspiring. I’ve been having many of the same thoughts recently. I’ve been noting more and more where my time goes as I realize more and more of the many goals I want to accomplish in my life. I spend way too much time on social media (Instagram is one my big ones, too! Facebook is the other) and have been considering scaling back. I need to if I’m going to accomplish everything that I want to.

    • Tammy Strobel December 13, 2016, 3:48 pm

      I hope you’ll try to scale back, Raven. At first it’s hard. But it’s so worth it! Good luck and thanks for reading.

Simple Share Buttons