The rain has stopped outside my window and it seems to have dripped green paint onto the weeping willow tree outside. There are suddenly millions of yellow green buds waiting to bloom. Being fully present to witness this moment feels like a gift and one that I have chosen for myself. I like to feel that I am choosing to do whatever activity I am engaged in, particularly social media. This week I wanted to share a little about a social media cleanse I tried.
Level one is general media hygiene. Regularly clear your follows and determine what accounts are bringing joy and which accounts are simply bringing you down. Anything that leads you to feel inadequate by comparison has to go – we don’t need that negativity in our lives. I’ve written more on general media hygiene practices here.
Level two – back to the cleanse – because just organizing follows is not our only new practice. I’m talking about a full week of conscious and deliberate social media avoidance. The purpose of this exercise is to clear your head and make space for creative ideas to break through. It is an opportunity to reflect and recognize how much time there is in the day when we are not scrolling.
I scheduled a week to be social media free because as an Artists Way exercise I have found it to be particularly powerful. Cameron calls her abstention a reading cleanse. No reading for pleasure or knowledge beyond what one must do for work or as necessity. That can be different things for different people. The overall purpose is to clear your head of everyone else’s stories so that you can really dig deep into your own creativity. It’s also a quick way to recognize how much time we fill by immersing ourselves in media.
I love the dopamine burst of reels on Instagram, or of finding something beautiful to pin on Pinterest. But when I am loosing too much time or feel like I can’t log off even when it is time to do so, that’s a good cue to spark a cleanse. This time my cleanse was not cold-turkey. I still watched the reels or notes that people sent. I simply logged on, replied to messages and got off. My logic here is that this an opportunity to connect with a real person. It is a moment of relationship building and that is more than simply watching what everyone else is up to and liking or posting a few emojis.
When we aren’t scrolling or lost in the virtual world of our phones it’s amazing how much we can create. The space gives us room to do something new, unique, and fresh. We want to make space for our true and raw selves to grow and be nurtured. Much like the rain outside painting the weeping willow with spring greens, I want to have room and water to grow and blossom in spring time. We can’t do that if we are constantly being pruned by everyone else’s ideas, endeavors, and news. So even if your break is a day, an hour, or an evening, I hope you are able to create something that’s never been in the world before. I hope you’ll take the time to invest in yourself.
Let me know how your social media cleanse goes and what new priorities you welcome! And just so you know all was not perfect over here! I was very much tempted to look at my phone more than I care to admit. Instead I cleaned the bathrooms, washed windows, wrote pages in my journal, painted, and spent quality time with my kiddos. Every second of it was worth it because I felt present, engaged, and more alive than I have in a while. I might just take this cleanse for another week’s run and see what happens!