Impact of Social Media Withdrawal

social media heart w red xDuring the week of June 30th, I joined with Margaret Feinberg and others to log off and shut down with respect to social media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere, and enjoy a week of silence.

Our hope reached to the edges of seeking to hear God in the silence when free of iPhones, tablets, laptops and other devices connecting us to a world filled with frenzy and constant news from family, friends and the world at large.

Today I am sharing what I heard in that week of silence.

Most of all, let me tell you: It. Was. Awesome!

My days felt free and my own. No “keeping up with” everyone posting on Facebook or Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong. I love connecting with family and friends and learning what’s going on in their lives. But I don’t really need it 24/7, nor do I need to sit down at the computer and before anything else, check in to see what’s new in social media.

While committing to social media silence during that week, some amazing things touched me:

  • Our days together as retired husband and wife had a better flow because I was more present in the moments of our lives, not glued to checking posts and “liking” or “retweeting” them.
  • While berry picking on Wednesday, I stood amazed in fields that stretched as far as the eye could see. I heard faint sounds of other families, and each of the birds singing to us. It was as if God was saying, “Listen to the peace around you.”
  • I listened in on a little boy and girl chatter about which berries tasted the sweetest, and which ones didn’t!
  • Nudges were more readily felt about what direction my writing might follow. My new mantra when sitting down to the laptop is: “God, what should I be writing today?”
  • I found myself selecting a variety of opportunities for prayer: passing a hospital praying for everyone there, whether employee, doctor, or patient; driving in traffic praying for new drivers; hearing children playing outdoors praying for their safety; thinking of family and friends throughout the day and lifting them in prayer; and far too many to list here.
  • The realization came to me that I generally felt better about what I accomplished in a day without the constant stream of news, emails, and social media.

As with so many experiments we try in life, there is always a bottom line. And the bottom line for me is this (note the underscore!):

  1. You may not see me blogging as often some weeks or joining as many link-ups as usual or reading posts as often.
  2. You may not find me on Facebook or Twitter for more than a couple of times a week.
  3. You may learn that I am not as overly concerned about my social media presence or my author platform (I’m told this is important to be a successful writer; I leave my success to God!).
  4. You may also learn that my feelings about what other bloggers or writers think about me doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it might as I tried detoxing from social media.
  5. You will soon learn that I am my happiest when unburdened by the need to be 24/7 on social media or blogging.
  6. You will soon learn that I’ve picked up a couple of recently tossed aside hobbies: knitting and quilting.
  7. You will also discover that I’ve begun to consider certain ministries in our church I had once thought I didn’t want to get back into.
  8. And there is probably more, but God hasn’t nudged me there yet.

Let me make one thing clear: What works for one doesn’t always work for another. I share here my experience and in no way do I intend to imply anyone else needs to do the same.

Allow me to encourage you to try taking a few days, a week, or whatever fits your schedule to place social media networking in the background, and listen for God’s urging in your life. What is He seeking for you in His Kingdom? What should you be focusing on each day? 

 

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25 thoughts on “Impact of Social Media Withdrawal

  1. Sherrey,
    I was smiling as I read your post….yes! I took a week off around April and it was great….even though I’m not on social media much….I think your experience points to how we each have to know our own bandwidth and what allows us to hear God more clearly 🙂 Bravo to you 🙂 Maybe I need to take another week off….

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    • Dolly, glad this brought a smile to your lovely face. I vaguely remember that you took a week off back in the spring. I like those words “we each have to know our own bandwidth and what allows us to hear God more clearly.” Great way to put it. Thanks for stopping in and for the encouragement.

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  2. “You may learn that I am not as overly concerned about my social media presence or my author platform (I’m told this is important to be a successful writer; I leave my success to God!).” I love this statement, Sherrey, and thank you for reminding me that it’s all up to Him.

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    • Linda, sometimes I have to write those thoughts out to remind myself that it’s all up to Him. I just want to write and keep the threads of faith weaving themselves through my writing. If I’m caught up in social media, I can’t hear God and I can’t write what He tells me. So good to hear from you, my Canadian friend.

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  3. Reblogged this on Sherrey Meyer, Writer and commented:

    The following post first appeared at Sowing Seeds of Grace and recounts the results of my one-week withdrawal from social media a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to share this post here because it also relates to my writing life.

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  4. Sherrey, I really needed to hear these words and am feeling the need to do the same, if only to capture more moments in each day to be present to myself, others and God. “Be still and know that I am God” is not only my favorite scripture but also an impetus to commit to “digital detox” now and then. Thank you, dear friend, for your wise words and gentle reminders about what matters most.

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    • Kathy, I thought of you as I wrote this post. Times have been frenetic and hectic lately, haven’t they? You once sent me a note on a notecard designed by Anne Kertz Kernion with this verse on the front. I keep it where I can see it each and every day. “Digital detox” isn’t so bad, trust me. 🙂

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  5. I love this, Sherrey! I often feel “smothered” (for lack of a better word) by the “musts” of social media in building a writer platform. I go back to our Alaska cruise where I was without social media and even a phone for much of the week. I felt free and relaxed.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love connecting with friends through Facebook and other social media sites, but I think an occasional break is important. As you quoted, “Be still and know that I am God…”

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    • Joan, I remember well the year you took the trip to Alaska and how refreshing you said the time had been. Free and relaxed is how we want to be and should be more than we are. Like I said in the post, I like connecting with family and friends via social media, but sometimes I just need to breathe in and out, and listen.

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  6. Your post expressed with candor and courage what many of us are feeling. I’ve been at this gig for only a year and a half, and I especially love the connection I feel to other writers. But I see burnout as an occupational hazard too. What I believe is the answer to feeling overwhelmed is striking a balance. Balance is key, I think.

    Nevertheless, let me say I appreciate your being one of the first to follow my blog and offer encouragement along the way. I printed out some of your comments of support — very helpful to refer to when I feel like blocked, befuddled, or plagued by self-doubt, another occupational hazard so I’ve discovered. Thank you, Sherrey.

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    • Marian, you are the dearest soul! I can’t believe you’ve printed out any of my comments. But I am so glad to know I’ve helped and supported in some way. Yes, you hit the nail on the head when you wrote, “[T]he answer to feeling overwhelmed is striking a balance. Balance is key, I think.” Always glad when you’re here!

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    • Margaret, your words fill my heart with joy! Now, if only, I’d read your post about Writers Boot Camp sooner. 😦

      Have you been in touch with Katie Clem lately? She’s a favorite of mine here in Portland.

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  7. Sherrey … so true! I have not shut down social media, but in the two weeks since I decided to abandon “marketing” I have taken several steps to reduce the quantity of social media stuff that invades my inbox and/or that I can access. I feel as if I have lost “emotional weight” … and maybe even the real weight as well.

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    • Margaret, trimming the sails on that inbox is also freeing and takes part of the load away. I subscribe to a blog by a young woman named Gretchen Louise (Google her name to find). She always has great tips for organizing, efficiency, freedom and relaxation. And she’s so young to know all this! You might check her out. I know that shedding “emotional weight” is an amazing feeling and I’m hoping the real weight goes with it! 🙂

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  8. You go Sherrey! I can’t say I missed you, because I’ve also backed way off. It’s great! I’m also unsubscribing from nearly all “advice” guru emails. I began finding that advice too stressful to follow over a year ago and then quit reading the posts, so why subscribe? Declutter, inbox, house, life! I’m rediscovering my yard. How amazing is that? Thanks for sharing and encouraging. We can all stay in touch on a personal basis or occasional posts, like friends used to do. Forward to the past.

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    • Could you hear me chuckling, Sharon, as I read your comment? I too have dispensed with “advice” guru emails. I never did like someone else telling me what to do! I’m rediscovering both quilting and knitting — and there’s a piano in my living room! It’s all amazing! I’m glad you’re willing to be a bit old-fashioned and offered staying in touch on a personal basis. And I think “forward to the past” should be our mantra from now on. Thanks so much for the chuckles, smiles and friendship.

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  9. I think I would get withdrawal symptoms after about 3 minutes! I had a friend give up Facebook for Lent – she struggled at first, but later chose not to go back to it, so there must be something to be said for it! Don’t think I would ever have the willpower myself… 😉

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    • I don’t disagree that there are withdrawal symptoms involved, but the choice not to be so active on social media depends on the person. We each know our own needs and choice of activities. If it would cause you problems, then it’s not for you. 🙂

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  10. Bravo Sherrey! A brave, bold decision. I haven’t taken a full fledged fast from SM (social media), but have had times when I’ve backed off from it, mainly because I realized it was having a negative effect on my mood. (This was after my son had died, so there were many factors affecting my mood then). I think that life is probably better without SM, but I enjoy staying in touch with long distance friends. 🙂

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    • That week away I wasn’t feeling so brave and bold at first, but as the peace and quiet I began to feel enveloped my hours and days I knew it was a right choice. There is a lot of negativity I find in some of the social media posts, and I suppose people who have a need to unload are within their rights to post those things. However, we have children and grandchildren as well as other family and friends with whom our only connection is social media. It has its good points and its bad ones. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with me and my readers.

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