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What a month without social media taught me

In the middle of December I decided to log out of Instagram and Facebook because of a feeling of overwhelm and dependency that had arisen in me. In the midst of dealing with some personal issues I noticed that when faced with a difficult thought or emotion I would look to escape through the use of social media, which only resulted in me temporarily running away from the problem without honestly looking at it in order to heal or deal with it.

I also struggled to keep my inner peace when constantly presented with the latest news of worldly tragedy and even though I set my accounts up in a way where I don’t follow negative outlets it is practically impossible not to be constantly notified of the latest covid information, political hysteria and outbreaks of violence.

Some might argue that it’s important to be up to date on such matters, which is true in a way, but I believe that an overindulgence in media of this sort (such as checking the latest covid death count daily) only brings our spirit down and leads to a feeling of helplessness and stress. Like Duncan Trussell once said:


”Some poor, phoneless fool is probably sitting next to a waterfall somewhere totally unaware of how angry and scared he’s supposed to be”.


It is important to know what is happening here on Earth but I see most of us wasting great amounts of time worrying about it all and going into all the details of the problem without doing anything about it. I purpose a strategy we could all implement in our life.


What if for every hour we spend consuming information and news on worldly tragedy we spent an hour of effective and creative thinking where we try to come up with solutions?


Another reason for me taking a break from social media is connected to me being a creator and someone whom routinely shares his art, thoughts and life on social media. I noticed that I would constantly be thinking about what I could post next and often found myself not fully present in life. In beautiful moments I’d be so focused on trying to document and share them that I’d forget to actually soak in the experience in and let myself feel the fullness of life. This can be a fine line to balance on because I do love to take pictures and share videos. I know what a powerful effect they can have on the people watching but I saw that it was time to tap out for a while and take some time for myself. Instead of focusing my attention into the digital landscape the moment had come to point my gaze inward.


So I deleted the social media apps from my phone. For the first few days I noticed that I was checking my email unusually frequently as a means of trying to get the hit of pleasure you feel when opening social media but I soon realized that reading the 10115 emails I have unopened didn’t bring much satisfaction (tell me I’m not the only one with this many 😂). Honestly I really did not have a hard time quitting and I felt great benefits right away!


Here is what I learned being off social media for a month

Enjoying time with the ones closest to you is something no amount of likes can beat!

A lot of us have an addiction to constantly checking our phone for new messages or posts but fail to realize how much it hinders our ability to enjoy the present moment. It takes up so much mental space to think if this person has replied to you or if that person has liked your post that you don’t have any energy left to be fully present. We might be with friends but giving more attention to our phones than the people we are physically around. When I eliminated social media from my life it became clear to me that the present moment is the only time there is! I should invest my energy in enjoying the present moment to the fullest, which I was able to do by cultivating awareness and giving full attention to the people I was with.

When we step into the present our problems disappear because they are rooted in either the past of the future. In the past dwell stories about ourselves and who we are that often limit us in expressing our authentic selves. We often find ourselves holding onto guilt, shame or regret of the past which can cause us to experience insecurity and depression. By letting go of those stories we open our selves up to an infinite amount of possibilities and are able to choose right here and now who we want to be. The same goes for the future, it is full of stories about what we need to do and how we have to do it. This can lead to great worry and anxiety which pulls us out of the present and simultaneously out of our joy. Eckhart Tolle said it well:


"All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry and all forms of fear are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence."


Being a musician and creator I’ve put great amounts of energy and time into promoting myself and getting my message and art across to as many as I can using various online platforms. It is fantastic to have an opportunity to reach people all over the globe and connect with them but I realized that a million streams online doesn’t come close to the feeling of playing a song you just wrote for your closest friends and it having the power to touch their hearts. I’ve often got so caught up in shooting for the stars that I forget to keep my feet on the ground and in taking time off social media I was pushed into being present. You realize that likes and streams are just abstract numbers on a screen yet we invest so much time into acquiring them. The feeling of getting 1000 likes does not even come close to beating the feeling of a true conversation with a friend.


No one really cares that you’re gone, and that’s wonderful!

Okay, I know that “no one” is not true, since I did have people tell me they missed me, but the majority of people don’t care and many do not even notice. Every day an endless stream of content is posted onto social media so if you stop posting people won’t have any problem finding something else to engage with. This for me felt very liberating since I’ve many times felt a responsibility to consistently post and keep people updated.


Missing out is fantastic

I think a lot of us don’t want to log out of social media because we are afraid that we will miss out on seeing what our friends are doing, the latest news or not being able to understand the newest trends. For some reason we humans want to be on top of things and up to date at all times but tapping out of that loop showed me how great it is to miss out.

  1. Not constantly seeing what your friends are doing gives you the opportunity to genuinely catch up with each other when you connect. Sometimes I feel like there is barely a purpose to call friends when you’ve already seen every meal they ate and every place they went to in the past month on their Instagram story. Not knowing it all makes for a way more engaging and connecting conversation and gives you the opportunity to genuinely catch up.

  2. Not being up to date on news is a blessing. The latest covid death count or stories of war, violence and political clownery only bring anxiety and depression into most of our lives and simply deciding not to give your attention to news outlets that profit from you taking in this negative energy gives you back your power. Where you place your attention is where you place your energy so let's give more energy to positive, empowering content that is life affirmative and be conscious of what we are supporting.

  3. The posts you missed out on are still there and you can go and look at them anytime you like. You’ll be surprised to see how few of them are actually of value to you.


Do I want to partake in this game?

At this point most of us have been made aware of the corruption of the major social media companies and we see the incredible power they have on our choices and actions. They have the ability to influence what we buy, who we vote for, what information we see and what information we can’t see. This is an extraordinary amount of power that sadly it is not fueled by a desire to help the people lead a healthy and joyful life but rather it is driven by a desire to profit at all costs. The people running social media seem to have no problem using proven psychological methods to make you addicted, selling your private information, spying on you, deciding what information is “true” and removing you from their platform if you so much as dare to question their methods. “If it’s free, most likely you are the product”.

In the eyes of Big Social you are simply a number on a screen that can be manipulated in whichever way needed to gain money.

So many of us are aware of this yet we still keep on playing the game. Why do we do that? I guess it’s because social media still has so many great things to offer. Sharing art and stories, connecting with friends and education are just a few of the good things possible on there but it feels almost impossible to enjoy the good aspects without getting sucked into all the negative ones as well. I believe awareness is the first step to move towards a healthier way connecting online . When we consciously use these platforms and stay aware while interacting with them we become way less susceptible to being manipulated or falling into the trap of addiction. Realizing that we, the users, are the ones who keep these platforms up by consuming and creating the content shows us that if we decide not to support it anymore the platform loses all its power.


The invitation

In this moment we humans are presented with an invitation. An invitation to look inside ourselves and think about how we want to relate to each other and what we want to support. Right now is the time to come up with new systems and think of new ways of living that serve us by bringing joy, peace and connection to humans and the earth. We are at a tipping point where we will either choose consciously to change now or we will create so much pain and suffering for ourselves as a species that we will have no other option than to change. It is time to ask the big questions.


WHY ARE WE HERE?


WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH?


WHO DO WE CHOOSE TO BE?


This must happen on the personal level in order to be made manifest on a collective scale so I encourage you to ask yourself these questions. You can't receive an answer if you never question.


Conclusion

It taught me a lot to distance myself from social media for a bit and it led me to rethink many of my ideas about how I want to relate to others and how I choose to experience life. I believe that it is very healthy to take on challenges like this because they move you out of your comfort zone. By stepping into discomfort your potential for growth is dramatically increased and you are presented with endless opportunities to learn.


Remember to take everything I’ve written with a grain of salt. Maybe nothing I wrote is true but that does not matter if this managed to inspire you to go and explore for yourself and to hopefully awaken you to your own power and choice. I encourage you to think about how this all relates to your own life and see if any of these ideas could potentially lead you to more joy, happiness and a greater sense of fulfilment in your life.


At the beginning of this podcast episode I spoke about my experience in great detail ;)

Much love and a big hug

Stefán Elí


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