We love social media. Some of us admit to being downright addicted to checking our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts many, many times a day. I’ve come to realize all my social media “checking” comes at a big cost. This cost is time, energy, stress and anxiety.
Josh and Ryan, aka “The Minimalists,” spoke at The Neptune theater in Seattle recently, and told their story of how they rescued their lives from debt and consumerism to a huge captive audience. It was an instructional evening in many ways, but my main take away from the evening was this: minimalism is much more than the purging of physical stuff or rejecting consumerism (although that is a large part of it). Josh and Ryan could call their presentation: “How to Live a Deliberate Life”: ridding ourselves of everything in our lives that weighs us down, stresses us out, imprisons us, distracts us, kidnaps our thoughts, confuses us, overwhelms us, or keeps us from being able to do only those things which are truly important to us.
Ryan on participating in social media responsibly: “What would life be like if we checked social media only once per day?” -Podcast: Episode 71
I just installed an app on phone to tell me just how much time I spend using various apps. I suspect that I spend more time on my phone each day (not calling or texting people) than I do making dinner for my family. I suspect I spend more time on my phone than I do reading a book. I suspect I spend more time on my phone each week than exercising. Those three things I named right there: cooking dinner for my family, reading, and exercise – those are my values. Why am I forgoing my values to follow @kats_are_crazy?? Those cats are darned cute, but they are not going to help me get dinner on the table anytime soon.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing photos of friends and family on Facebook. I have reconnected with distant family members over Facebook and that has been a true gift. I don’t need the stress and anxiety, however, from the sensationalist and dubious news articles that circulate on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t need to engage in comment wars with strangers nor do I need to read those comment wars. I can take that emotional energy and put it toward something that is actually important to me.
Using the wisdom of The Minimalists, going forward I think I will use social media deliberately to keep in touch with friends and family – once a day from my home PC. I will uninstall the Instagram, Facebook, Twitter apps from my phone. I know I will twitch and want to check these apps for a while. I will have social media withdrawals. I will feel like I am missing out. I will want to check my notifications. But instead, I will go cook dinner, go to yoga or read a book. I may just be calmer happier person for it.