Media fast. The idea itself seems simple, but the action is much more difficult. In today’s hyper-connected, I-get-angry-when-you-don’t-text-me-back-immediately world, being online is a necessity for many, an addiction for some.
As a business- woman, I first joined Instagram because I deemed it absolutely crucial for my business exposure. I remember being reluctant to sign up for yet another social platform because I was aware of how much of my precious time it would take. Once you get sucked in there is no turning back and I soon found myself with a business profile, a personal profile and an obsession with getting more followers. Trolling other people’s Instagram accounts took up more and more time. And as someone who loves exploration, adventure and being outdoors, this was a step in the wrong direction.
The amount of time we spend online is just one of the many problems with our first-world media obsession. According to Business News Daily, U.S. adults spend 23 hours per week on social media, texting and online communication. Time spent on social media often outweighs the time we give our family, friends and selves. I invite you to refocus the way you spend your time and see if you can squeeze out a bit more life by being in touch with how you spend your time online.
What is it?
It’s simple. A media fast is a designated amount of time that you unsubscribe from all online involvement. That’s right—cut yourself off completely. First, estimate how much time you are spending browsing blogs, Facebook “stalking”, scrolling Pinterest and Instagram and checking email and news sites. I recommend toggl.com, a timer that helps you log time spent on activities and helps with awareness (whoa, I spent 49 minutes on my email while I was attempting to write this article). Second, turn off all of your notifications, remove the quick-links from your browser bar, and turn data off on your phone. Hint: it still works…as a phone. Third, find something else to occupy your time! Call your grandma, read that great book or get outdoors and explore! Feast your eyes on what’s in front of you and not what’s in cyber-space.
Why it’s beneficial:
Social media generates a lot of life lust. When I see the adventures and trips that my friends and acquaintances are going on, I get envious and start feeling bad about what it is that I’m doing (even though it may be something super awesome!). Doing a social media fast turns the focus onto your own life. You are able to tune in to what badass activities you are doing and what it is that you can accomplish.
Stay focused on your own life.
Social media aficionados usually post photos of only interesting and cool things. You don’t see the dirty stuff. You don’t see the real workout photos where sweat stains are visible and hair is amuck. You see the workout photos where her abs are ripped and her running outfit perfectly matches. Instead of focusing on the exercise, we focus on how the person looks and comparing is inevitable.
Eliminate trip envy.
As a woman who loves adventure and travel, it’s easy to get jealous of other people’s lives. People are always doing cool things! And posting about it! Instead, make a dream board with photos and clippings of the trip you want to take.
Increase your gratitude level.
Participating in a media fast helps you be grateful for what it is you do have. It certainly makes it easier to be aware of what you have and what you get to enjoy when other people’s lives aren’t being forced down your throat. You’ll realize how much you really do have, when you stop comparing yourself to others.
BUT WAIT, I CAN’T GO THAT LONG WITHOUT CHECKING MY EMAIL!
A media fast is just a temporary time, so you don’t have to worry about going sans iPhone forever. For most of us, that simply isn’t practical. In order to thrive in today’s working world, we need to have some level of availability and connection. This isn’t meant to be a lifestyle change; it’s a perspective shift and hopefully a revelation. Once you go back into your daily life of Facebook status’s, Pinterest boards and Twitter feeds, try not to revert completely to your old habits.
Ways to cope:
-If you find yourself getting envious, take a deep breath and put down the device. Walk outside and remember what you’re grateful for.
-Schedule your posts. This limits the need to go on Instagram every time you want to post something. Schedule it and be done.
-Remove the quicklinks from the top of your browser.
-Plan your next adventure!
In closing, I beg you, for one week, one day, one month if you can handle it, of total disconnection. Take advantage of what’s in front of you. Get outside, explore, be grateful.