Earlier this year, I took a short break from social media — mainly Instagram (Facebook, I’d already been broken up with for months).
I wanted to enjoy my moments more. I wanted less brain space taken up with concerns about social approval. I wanted to stop posting photos of my daughter so much (it’s getting to the point where she’s a little person and I felt I was taking advantage — plus, internet weirdos are a thing, or so I heard).
It was so difficult at first. So difficult.
And then, it was awesome. I had all this new space in my psyche to read books or write more or just… Be bored (this was huge — more on this soon).
But then, I was ready to get back. I didn’t miss Facebook at all, but I missed Instagram. When I scroll through Instagram, I’m good. It’s not nearly as toxic as Facebook. However, I wanted to do Insta in a more mindful fashion this time around. Yes, I wanted to play in the sandbox again. But I didn’t want the sandbox consuming my mind.
So, here’s the rule I instituted for myself…
Take the photo now. But don’t post until tomorrow.
It’s the age-old wisdom of writing the angry letter now but not sending it until our heads cool off. (Usually, what happens is that the letter ends up in the trash.)
Even though what you’re about to post might not be an angry letter, I’m guessing it’s coming from an unconscious place. Maybe it’s a knee-jerk reaction. Maybe it’s a subconscious one-upping of someone you saw earlier. Maybe it’s a blatant promotion that’s rushed to get clients in the door. Or maybe it’s just a way to kill some time.
See, for me, the scenario was often this:
I’d be out somewhere with my family and the perfect Instagrammable moment would arise. Suddenly, my mind would shift into how I could frame said moment in the best way for my friends on social media. I’d take the photo. Then, I’d ponder what caption and clever hashtags I could use for several minutes. All the while, I’d be missing the moment. I’d consciously be absent from my life until I hit that ‘publish’ button.
Not now. Now, I just snap the photo (takes 5 seconds) and put the phone back in my pocket. Then I go back to enjoying my day.
The next day, if the thing is still novel, it’s post-worthy. If not (and typically, it’s not), I either delete it or leave it for my family/personal scrapbook.
Create more space between your life and your social media feed.
You deserve — and your friends and loved ones deserve — your full presence in your life. Be there.
Live first. Post second (if at all).
P.S. After I wrote this, I did some searching and noticed that the NY Times has a fantastic article on this point titled, The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter. Check it out here, if you’re interested.