A Writing Life: Why I Friend Zoned Social MediaI

Monday, October 3, 2016

Why I Friend Zoned Social MediaI

My kids tease me that I blame everything on social media, even down to why it's still 95 degrees here - in the fall. (Don't even get me started.) And I have to admit, they aren't wrong. I'm grateful because my three teenagers have less of a relationship with social media than I do. My daughter is only on snapchat and my boys only on Instagram. They post nothing. One reads funny posts, the other chats with his friends and loves pages like Dude Perfect. The difference is...

I get emotionally involved in social media.

I read about something that has absolutely nothing to do with me and I'm a hot mess over it for hours. Half the time I don't even know why I feel angst until I think about it and go, "Yeah! It's been since I read about such and such that I feel so down, or crummy, or sad, or anxious. Theses are not good things.

However, as a writer, I sort of kind of need to be on social media. 

Because of this fact, I can't totally break up with social media, but I did decide to Friend Zone it. It's mind boggling how much different life is for me. I know that sounds dramatic. Maybe it is, a little. But I'm not kidding. I've been reading a book called Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.  It's a game changer, people. Like, life changing. At least for me. I'll be the first to admit, although not proudly, that I have spent way too much time on social media when I'd truly rather be focused on my family, my writing, the world around me.

I tried an experiment last week. I took all social media apps off my phone. I only have them now on my iPad, which for the most part floats from my office to the kitchen at my house. It's not with me 24/7 the way my phone is. At first, I found myself going to check sites many, many, many times a day. Too many. But the habit stopped once I remembered they weren't there and it was too much of a pain to try and find my iPad or go online. As far as my author sites go, I can post from an app on my phone but that's it. I can't check 96 times a day.

Here's what I've gained from Friend Zoning social media:

1) I have a lot more time in my day
2) I'm more focused. My brain isn't full of stuff I don't need to know.
3) I'm more in the moment. I'm actually having conversations with my husband and kids without the distraction of my phone or a screen or anything else.
4) I'm getting a ton of writing done. For whatever reason, always checking social media gave me this mental stress that my To Do list was miles long. Turns out, it's not. It's totally doable. So I can shut my brain off from thinking there's a ton to do and just write.
5) I'm happier. No kidding. I'm enjoying meals more. I'm watching baseball - like actually watching the game. Not sort of, kind of, focused on it while looking at social media. I'm talking with friends after Crossfit because I have the time and I'm not thinking I need to get back to posting things for work. I'm literally in the moment that is happening, and I'm not thinking about posting it anywhere. 
6) This might sound strange but I'm enjoying social media more. Now that we are just friends, I can sit down for a short amount of time per day, maybe every other day, and really look at pictures, chat with people. Be engaged. But then I walk away and live life. I think I have more to bring to the table because I'm not always there.

I've gotten social media brain before and like any other habit, I have to break myself of it. I was sitting outside the other day with Thing 2 looking at the sky and the trees. He commented on how cool the sunlight looked on the leaves, part of them in the shade, others lit up by the sun. I had a a thought of taking a picture I could maybe post later, but it was fleeting. My phone was nowhere around and the moment with my son was WAY more important than going to find it to take a photo. And I wanted that moment to stay ours. Not share it.

I think that's what's tough. We are a society now that shares everything. And that's not all bad. I like social media. I really do. But at a certain level. For me, I have to make boundaries, draw the line on how much I share and how much I'm taking in.

What does this mean for a writer, you ask? Well, see number four above. And not only am I getting my writing done, my writing is better. No joke. I'm reading more, journaling more, thinking about the clouds as they float by and how I would describe them in a story. My mind is clear of all the extras I used to fill it with. It has the space to toy with images and create.

And I wouldn't want it any other way.