We are obsessed with our smart phones. How could we not be? Our smart phones have become more than just our main means of communication. They are also our alarm clock, our weather radar, our email, our fax, our camera, our calendar, our flashlight, our bank, our newscaster, our music collection, our entertainment, our library, our personal trainer, our food delivery service, even our remote control. All things handy and convenient. No argument about that.
To me, that list up there, is totally fine. This multi- (and I mean really multi) purpose device saves us time, resources, and money.
The real problem lies with something else our phones have allowed. An addiction to social media. We are obsessed with posting about ourselves, our businesses, our future endeavors, our hates, our likes. And even worse, we have a growing obsession with other people’s virtual lives.
And please try not to exclude yourself from this, unless you are part of the 22 percent of Americans who don’t have a social profile. As of 2016, an overwhelming 78 percent of the United States population has a social networking profile.
We need to come to terms with the addiction we have to social media. Does this sound familiar? Posting a tweet in the morning before even getting out of bed, sharing a pic of lunch on Instagram, tagging your best friend on a funny meme while you’re still on the clock, checking in at a fave Happy Hour spot on Facebook, pinning your OOTD on Pinterest, all while sharing Snapchat videos with the new filter of the day. It does? Then this post is for you.
Why Unplugging is Critical?
A survey found that the average cell phone user actually spends 3.6 hours a day using it. I wouldn’t be surprised if those 3.6 hours were spent on social networks.
As I’ve mentioned, the portability and accessibility of technology is a mixed blessing. While we should be grateful for the benefits, we should also recognize the invasive, distracting tendencies. The more we use our smart devices, the more we need to learn the discipline of silence and solitude, or unplugging. It is one thing to check our phone when we are bored, waiting in line, watching something irrelevant. But it’s another to be unable to exist in a space without “checking in”.
Realizing that culture conditions us to be comfortable with noise and crowds, made my soul crave separation from noise, crowds, and the media game even more. I believe that one of the best ways to step back and get a more balanced perspective on important matters is through unplugging. So for 40 days, I have been off the social media game. I erased all the networks from my iphone to keep myself from checking in or checking out. I have even deleted my personal Facebook account, with no plans to return.
What really happens when you unplug?
1. Unplugging teaches us to compare less and love ourselves more
Everyone is living a complicated, messy, mysterious, and flawed life. Yet we all like to believe the fabricated photos we see on social networks, including our own. Why? Because we live in a beauty obsessed society. We are pretty much only sharing the version of ourselves that we aspire to be, wish were true, or simply put -the version of ourselves we want others to see. We take flawed images, crop, brighten, saturate, throw a fancy filter on top and voila! Problem solved, right? Wrong!
Are these photos representing the real aspects of our lives? Not even close. We aren’t posting the unglamorous everyday stuff of our lives. The hard work, the early mornings, the tuna sandwiches, the hurriedness of a day, the hang-ups. We are posting what society demands. We are posting the trends, what’s in, the glossiness of our lives. What we think other people would find interesting, pretty, or funny.
I don’t know about you, but it’s the idea that I’m not measuring up that gets to me. I’m worrying and wondering and feeling like I am failing because everyone else seems to be thriving. They’re driving a new luxury car, buying homes, having a more exciting weekend, a better holiday, holding the latest gadgets, wearing the must-have designer item. And to top it off some people are even making money off their picture-perfect media lives.
It used to get me thinking, “What in the world am I doing wrong?” “How do I get my photos to look like that?” “What do I have to do to get that?” “How can I get into this event?” “How can I become this woman who gets everything I want?”
As soon as I unplugged, as if a fairy wand appeared – the comparisons stopped. Wanting what other people have, stopped. The doubts, criticism, and confusion about my own life, stopped. There has been no attempts to work out the magic formula to other peoples picturesque, super-successful, dreamy life.
Instead, I’ve been having more moments where I look around and sigh with satisfaction. Moments where I think, “This is perfect.”
*Lesson – Don’t idolize anyone. Unplugging means loving the life YOU live.
Check out this article if you are interested in reading more on the fakeness of social media.
2.Unplugging helps us maximize time
Whether you want to admit it or not, this addiction to social media leaves us unproductive at best, and even evil at worst. Studies have found that most people are checking their phone at least 150 times a day. Even if we check it for 30 seconds minimum and put it right back down; that’s 4,500 seconds a day we have wasted not doing much at all, mostly just scrolling. Many things can be lost and then regained, but not time. It’s so easy to lose so much, a little at a time. You don’t have to do anything to lose time.
Unplugging means we gain more of that time for learning, journaling, meditating, creating. Actually doing and making things. This conscious, active, discipline directs our thoughts more productively. It allows us to use our time wisely and even more effectively. The way we use our time now determines our future. For those of us that don’t make any money out of social media, it adds NO value whatsoever to our time here on earth. It only takes away.
*Lesson – Right this moment, there are billions of people on social networks scrolling. And while they are busy scrolling, the happy, interesting, successful people are busy doing.
How much more time would you gain?
How much more would you get done by unplugging?
3. Unplugging helps us open our minds to see things God’s way
One of the most underrated benefits of unplugging is that it provides fuel for meditation. Instead of checking social media when we are standing and waiting in line, we can meditate instead. The time we are waiting in traffic, waiting for our clothes to dry, or waiting at the doctor’s office gives us time to focus on our breathing or focus on God.
Now, our first instinct when we are waiting for anything is to grab our phone and check what other people are up to. It entertains us, so it’s the first thing we do. Quickly checking out a snapchat video, quickly laughing at a meme, or quickly posting our status. This changes when you delete the social networks from your phones, even if it is temporary. I can attest to that. Once I deleted the networks I stopped checking my phone as often and started forming a habit of meditating anywhere at any time during the day or night. Whether taking a walk, riding a train, waiting at the airport, rocking a baby, eating a meal – we can enjoy the spiritual discipline of meditating.
While unplugged from the media world we might also sharpen the skills of observation and listening, we might learn to rely on God more instead of the social influences that formulate day to day. One of the costs of social network advancements is a greater temptation to avoid quietness. If you haven’t notice there’s always something going on on social media. It gets very noisy, very crowded, very distracting. This distracts us from spending quality time with our loved ones. It distracts us from the present moment. It distracts us from having a deeper relationship with God because we don’t spend enough time tuning out the noise and tuning in to stillness, silence, solitude.
*Lesson -Silence is golden. Unplugging helps to physically and spiritually re-create us in ways that are deeply therapeutic.