I Left Social Media for a Week. This is What Happened.

Health & Wellness

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Last Thursday morning, I knew with certainty it was coming. Tired, irritable, moody; I shlepped out of bed 2 hours later than I had originally planned and looked at my face in the mirror. My eyes peered back with a glazed tint of emptiness; my skin, flat and pale; my thoughts, cutting. “Pathetic. Sloppy. Worthless.” There had been an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach for the past 2 weeks, a nausea I was becoming familiar with. “Here we go again,” I thought— my second annual visit from depression was impending.

There are plenty of tools I turn to before a mild episode turns serious: sleep, exercise, vitamin D, a natural supplement called 5-HTP. But this time, I knew I had to try something different. I had to make a lifestyle and behavioral change.

I’ve often wondered about the affect technology has on our moods and sense of well-being. We’re social creatures by nature with a thirst for information. Today, there’s no shortage of content to consume, and there’s more people to share it with than ever. Some could argue the digital age is what the industrial era was to the men who build America. Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg are the new Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan.  Technology is our new infrastructure. It has evolved the way we communicate; it propels capitalism and our global economy; it is exploited and manipulated along the way. It has fundamentally changed everything, including the way the human brain is wired.

The evolution of the technology sector brings significant improvements to our quality of life. Today, we can escape from our desks and work from anywhere. Mothers and fathers can office from home, allowing us to create stronger bonds within our families. We can preform tasks in half the time, and if we use it wisely, that extra time is ours to spend pursuing more fulfilling objectives. Exotic travel. Training for marathons. Volunteering. Socializing. We have more time to enjoy life, thanks to technology.

Then there’s mass media. And more specifically, mobile media. The newest trillion dollar industry is built to cater to a more efficient world, expanding seamlessly into the time and space where leisure once lived. Their products are designed to act as our fifth limb– to pull at our pleasure sensors– encouraging maximum usage and consumption of content. Delectable, juicy, uselessly tasty content. As a result, mass media filters into our lives through the devices we rely on to make a living.

That’s where it get complicated for me. You are most likely  reading this during your coffee break, during the time you could have spent playing with your dog, or calling your mom.  My livelihood exists within this mobile media space. It’s where I’ve built W&D, it’s how I’ve connected with readers and followers, it’s where clients find me, it’s where I share inspiration and essays like this one. It’s also where I spend the majority of my own leisure time.

Given the increased frequency of my depressive states and ADD diagnosis, the writing is on the wall. I needed to look closely at my media consumption and technology usage. It’s affecting my health and it’s affecting my life. I needed to figure out why the simple act of sharing a beautiful moment on Instagram had become damaging to my health. If I redesign my living room, or put together a lovely meal, or maybe I’m seeing the world in PERFECT LIGHT, is it the same experience without thousands of “likes” from perfect strangers? Why was I feeling compelled to share every clever thought I had on Twitter? What had Wit & Delight become? What did it mean to me?

So last Thursday, I deleted the apps Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Vine— the forms of social media I abuse most (even though I don’t actively post to all of them)— from my phone and started a mood journal. After a moment of quiet contemplation, like a nervous tick, I thought, “I should tweet about this.”

The three days that followed were terrible. My mood worsened and I became more lethargic. My thoughts were shaming and I began to question taking a career path that requires I stay active on social media. I shamed myself for not pursuing a career of substance and contribution. I wasn’t using the extra time for constructive activities; I was feeling sorry for myself. I missed communicating with the people I follow. I missed sharing my disconnected thoughts on Twitter. At my lowest point, I just wanted to sign on to Facebook to read status updates from people who think the Onion is a real news outlet. I missed the feeling of tumbling down the internet’s rabbit hole at 3am, just like any good addict misses their drug of choice. The question I was left to answer was this: If I don’t share my life on social media, does Wit & Delight exist?

On Sunday, the clouds parted and my mind started to clear. I didn’t reach for my phone. Instead, I made my first batch of homemade ricotta and blueberry balsamic ice cream for a dinner we were hosting earlier in the week. I started a loaf of no-knead bread for the smattering of crostini we’d serve and looked into wine pairings. That afternoon, I began our bathroom makeover, selected light fixtures and picked out wallpaper. I napped with our puppy and played in the leaves. We went on walks. Instead of wasting hours watching HGTV and flipping through Twitter, I listened to the classical radio station, read the book on my night stand and flipped through old holiday issues of Gourmet before falling asleep at 10:30. When I woke up, I had more energy and clarity than I had in years. I began to remember what it was like pre-Instagram, when I’d spend all day doing the things that delighted me without posting an entry in my visual diary.

The little experiment did shed light on my reliance on social media, and in many ways, my mood is just as affected by other distractions on my phone and computer. I’m feeling much better, but I’m still at risk of slipping to another depressive state. All that aside, the process ended up being surprisingly cyclical. I was reminded that my social media footprint was created to promote self-discovery, and that doesn’t have to change, because Wit & Delight existed before it’s content reached millions. It’s a point of view and a filter; it’s my leisure, my creative laboratory, my outlet. Somehow along the way, I forgot to take the time to savor and process these moments myself, and for my little family. Wit & Delight is a part of me– a real, live, human being. A real life that I live, and will continue to live, should I decide to part with social media for good.

Plenty of people navigate the mobile media world with ease and grace. Plenty of people have unhealthy relationships with mass media and technology. The point of sharing my experiment is to discuss the link between social sharing and our mental well-being, and to raise questions about the relationship and reliance on our digital footprint. How real and impactful is an online persona? Does this mean it is essential to become more human in the digital world? If yes, how do we do it with authenticity, care, and purpose? Is curating a hyper-idealized, editorial version of yourself just another way of catfishing your followers? How do we be more human without disclosing too much of ourselves? Or, will be have to find new ways to cope with our connectedness in order to keep up with an increasingly digital environment?

I’m not sure how to answer these questions yet, but they’ve got me heading in the right direction. After all, it’s not about how other people are using social media, it’s about setting our own boundaries. Given all the new questions I’m left pondering, I did come up with a few learnings from the week off line:

1. Presence is important. It is a requirement for self-awareness. It requires paying attention, not being the center of attention.
2. Pleasure and privacy are to be taken seriously.
3. Social media itself isn’t really the problem, it’s how you use it.
4. A performance for an audience of one can be just as impactful as one for the masses.
5. I’m happiest living between the crinkled pages of Gourmet Magazine, head in the clouds, heart in the kitchen.

In closing, I wanted to share a little excerpt from “Letters to a Young Artist”, by Anna Deavere Smith.

“Presence is not the same as attracting attention. It’s not a gimmick, it’s not a brand. I said previously that presence was about “grabbing the light.” No. It’s about finding the light and being a part of it. These days, I believe the light might just be in the audience, with the public, in the world, among the possibilities of “us” as human beings rather than in the language of “self.” 

Tomorrow morning, Wit & Delight goes “on line” again. On Friday, I’m heading to Savannah with Joe for a little bit of work and a little bit of pleasure. You’ll see instagrams and tweets along the way. We’ll share pleasures and discoveries. There will be wit; there will be delight. Most importantly, there will be moments left undocumented for the sake of finding the light, being in the audience, and getting outside ourselves. Here’s to less media and a more thoughtful way of being social.

Thank you– as always– for allowing this space to be a safe one for me to explore and experiment.

———-

Additional Reading:

Your Brain on Computers, Matt Mitchell (NYT)
“The way we become more human is by paying attention to each other,” he said. “It shows how much you care.” That empathy, Mr. Nass said, is essential to the human condition. “We are at an inflection point,” he said. “A significant fraction of people’s experiences are now fragmented.”

The Coolest Girl You Know Probably Uses a Flip Phone, Chiara Atik (Matter)
“No, Judith doesn’t Instagram. She doesn’t Venmo or tweet either. Somehow, she is able to flirt with boys without using an arsenal of Emojis. If someone needs to reach her, they can call her or send a text-only SMS. If she’s around, she’ll get back to you, but sometimes, she’s just not around.”

How to be a Human Being on the Internet, Rachel Hills (What Rachel Did Next)
“But on the internet, there’s not really a graceful way to bow out – at least, not without making a big “I’M LEAVING THE INTERNETS” scene. And then… what if you wanted to come back a couple of weeks later?”

On Self-Respect, Joan Didion (Slouching Toward Bethlehem)
“To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference. If we do not respect ourselves, we are the one hand forced to despise those who have so few resources as to consort with us, so little perception as to remain blind to our fatal weaknesses.”

PS: If you can’t laugh at this, you’re taking your Instagram page too seriously.

Image: Anna Haas, by Soiree Graphique

BY Kate Arends - October 30, 2014

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241 Comments  +

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  1. Natashia

    October 30th, 2014 at 12:34 am

    I think about this topic all the time. I wonder how social media impacts our lives when I’m lying in bed checking my phone while my partner does the same thing next to me. We are so connected but disconnected at the same time. I know some people who use social media as a way to document everything they do – like if they didn’t photograph it, or tag where they are, it never really happened. It’s a conflicting position to be in, and I only hope it doesn’t affect future generations. I went to a concert last night, and for the first time didn’t upload a photo to social media. It might sound stupid, but I really wanted to, and the moment I realised a felt conflicted I put my phone in my bag and didn’t take it out again. I looked at the crowd and thought “stop watching the concert through your phone and enjoy what is happening right in front of you!”. We are so routined to social media we don’t realise we have a problem. End of my rant 🙂 Ps I love your instagram – your puppy is amazing!

  2. Kate

    October 30th, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Natashia! After a few days off line, all the things I’d normal share on instagram felt that much more special. Says something about how “capturing the moment” may actually make the moment less special. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Minds

    October 11th, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    I like sounds your way of faithful

  4. Emily

    October 30th, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Kate, I’ve been a fan of yours since following your tumblr blog years ago. I think all of us can relate to feeling like social media– while it is supposed to increase connection to other people, to work, to opportunity– can really disconnect us from ourselves and from what is truly important. Loved this post and I look forward to reading more (or not reading, if a break from blogging is what you need).

  5. Kate

    October 30th, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Thanks, Emily!! Connecting with ourselves is so much easier said than done. Thanks for your support!

  6. Maja

    October 30th, 2014 at 3:24 am

    I love this! Good for you Kate, to take your health seriously and explore all possible options, incl. nixing Social Media for a while. I’d like to think I’ve got a pretty good handle on all things Instagram and Twitter, but then again, I only have a small blog and maybe the pressure to be present is very different. But I also get these moments of, ‘Jeez, I’ve had so much fun this last week, what’s different?’ only to realise I’ve unintentionally “neglected” my sm accounts. Like with everything, it’s all about finding balance I fuss.

    Feel better soon!
    xx

  7. Kate

    October 30th, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Thanks for the kind words, Maja!

  8. Kate (shoegirlinDE)

    October 30th, 2014 at 3:52 am

    It’s amazing what the little things we do everyday without thinking can do to our health. I suffered from similar symptoms – depression, unfocused, foggy – for years before I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Who knew that bread and pasta could so detrimentally break down a body, both mentally and physically? While I think it becomes counterproductive to stress over every little thing that could be stressing you out, it’s definitely worth looking closer at the behaviors in your life and how they make you feel. Good for you for identifying it and doing something about it.

    As for using social media, I have found it to be a lifesaver in my world as an expat. Living in another country in a new language, half a world away from life-long friends and family, can be terribly solitary. I have meet countless friends and made such inspirational connections via Twitter, Instagram and my blog, where I would otherwise feel a bit alone and lost. That said, I do think there’s a balance. It’s all about finding the one that’s right for you.

    Thanks Kate, for opening up about this.

  9. Kate

    October 30th, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Thank you for sharing your perspective, Kate. I think it does bring real connections with real people. Incredibly powerful! Also, isn’t it strange how difficult it is to accept that our brains are just like any other organ in our body? I still struggle with that.

  10. DeAnn

    October 30th, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Yes! I had a blog for almost 7 years. It was really fun in the beginning, like landing on a new planet. The community was small ~ there were just a few of us out there, and that made it fun. It was my first MN winter in many years and it cut the loneliness of being in a new place during a cold and dark time (inside and out). I also realized later I was depressed in this new life, I saw at the end of it, and knew while it was happening, how good my blog focus was for me as it was my space to find like minded people, be positive, and have focus.

    I rode the wave. For a while. But then the blogosphere changed, and I changed.

    I’ve always been an extremely private person, I’m an introvert. When I say things I mean them and they are important to me. It was fun sharing my discoveries and thoughts, but it always felt uncomfortable. I enjoyed blogging so much I went to one of the early Alt Summit conferences. But I was already beginning to be turned off by people obsessed with their stats, feeling they couldn’t take a break, and living their lives only for on-line. But I kept blogging, for awhile, trying figure out where I was headed.

    Every year I took a January hiatus to completely disconnect from blogging and focussed on my real life. I would chose a month long sewing project, read books, do what ‘normal’ people used to do. This time was always precious to me, a carry over lesson from my college J-term days. I loved this practice.

    Then I got sick for many months, and my already fading zest to share every little thing on my blog faded, and then one day I stopped. Life became about being well. Period.

    To this day I still miss blogging. I don’t know what it is about it – I think it is the sharing and learning with others that I so enjoyed, and so miss. But I haven’t looked back. Everyday I’m aware my blog is sitting there, I wonder what to do with it or if I should make a book to remember it, and I think about reincarnating it in a different form, for where I am at in life today.

    But when all is said and done – I’m just trying to be me. Finally enjoying MN after 7 years. Finally living my best every day. Trying to spend less time on the internet just like you ~and struggling, as my dogs lay at my feet just wanting to be loved more than my computer. It’s time for us all to find the balance. Agreed.

  11. Kate

    October 30th, 2014 at 9:12 am

    DeAnn, I totally feel you. Many of us “original gangsters” saw the landscape change overnight. I’m pretty grossed out by the obsession with followers and stats, too. But here I am, still wanted to put something out into the world. I haven’t ruled out moving on to a new project…someday the time will come for a change! Thank you for sharing your story 🙂

  12. Jenna

    October 30th, 2014 at 9:18 am

    You continue to inspire, Kate! Your voice is heard and appreciated, and I am glad you’re taking the time “offline” to make your life the best it can be. Miss you girl, and have fun in GA. XO

  13. Bre

    October 30th, 2014 at 9:29 am

    This was beautifully written, Kate! I was trying to explain my tug of war with social media last night to my husband, so it was absolutely encouraging to wake up and read what I couldn’t myself put into words. 🙂

  14. Theresa

    October 30th, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Really insightful post. I’ve considered disconnecting too, and your perspective is really interesting to read. Thank you for sharing!

    Theresa
    http://honesttrees.wordpress.com

  15. Erin Haslag

    October 30th, 2014 at 9:47 am

    This post. This conversation. Thank you for sparking it, opening discussing and sharing with such honesty.

  16. Kelly

    October 30th, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Love these posts so much. I’m not on social media but I follow blogs (obviously) and I was reaching a point where I was doing a lot of comparing and spending too much time focusing on other people’s lives instead of my own. I decided to reduce the amount of blogs I follow, focusing on ones that truly inspire me in a positive way and that has helped so much. Thank you for sharing this experience!

  17. Kaylie B. Poplin

    October 30th, 2014 at 10:28 am

    This. This. Breath of fresh air and truth! Thank you.

  18. Laura

    January 5th, 2018 at 10:40 am

    I felt better a little away from the social media thanks for the help success

  19. kristin

    October 30th, 2014 at 10:40 am

    such important words.

  20. liz

    October 30th, 2014 at 10:42 am

    i have been struggling with this lately as well, and i found your perspective on the issue so comforting.

    just this past weekend i left a brunch with friends where i didn’t take & instagram a picture & i felt an empty feeling. then on the drive home, i called my best friend instead of texting, and when she picked up she was surprised and said, you never call me!

    it made me think twice about how i use my phone, how i validate quality and how i communicate.

    thanks for the insight!

  21. Hillary

    October 30th, 2014 at 11:01 am

    I’m working on this too. In fact, I posted about it here a few days ago: http://www.friendly-home.net/2014/10/how-to-unplug-in-a-digital-world.html. I am not super concerned about how I use social media most of the day, but I hate to find myself reaching for my phone when my kids, husband, or friends are around. So I found a place in my house to put it away. Out of sight, out of mind has worked pretty well for me thus far. But as a blogger, it’s kind of a tough balance!

  22. Alexandra @ Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker

    October 30th, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    This is such a well-said post. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the presence of social media in your life, and the fact that you took a step back from it all to reassess is so great. I hope in your continued “journey” with this you figure out what works the best for you and your life!

  23. Link Love: 10.30.14 | Nubby Twiglet

    October 30th, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    […] • If you read just one thing this week, make it this: Kate quit social media cold turkey for a full week. Here’s what happened. […]

  24. Tori / My Om Life

    October 30th, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Oh this is so good kate. Thank you so much for shedding some of your own light on this topic. I’m currently in the throes of loathing social media and would love to throw my phone out the window. But you’re right it is how we use it and choosing to live life with more intention and consciousness begs for less time with our heads bowed down in the glow of our phones. I’m going to step away from Instagram right now and go snuggle with my man:) Thanks Kate for this reminder and for your thoughtful way of sharing your struggle.

    Much love,
    Tori

  25. Morgan Borine

    October 30th, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Yet another amazing post Kate! It sounds like you are doing all the right things to keep an impeding depressive episode at bay. Your intrapersonal awareness is extraordinary and reading about your pursuit of self-discovery is enlightening. Keep up the great work! 😉

  26. Amanda

    October 30th, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    You have such an eloquent way of saying the things that tumble around in my mind often. Thanks for wring such a relatable and smart post about consuming social media and the dark mindset that can accompany it- I feel strangely comforted by it!

  27. Avinab sengupta

    February 26th, 2017 at 12:08 am

    Hi

  28. Stephanie

    October 30th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Kate – You’re very brave for writing this post. It was inspiring. I think your’e the coolest.

  29. Laura

    October 30th, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Kate, I so admire the honesty in your writing. What has been striking lately me when going through various feeds are people who apologize for not posting for a certain number of days, saying things like, “Omg, I’m soooo sorry I’ve been MIA for three days on here, life got busy!” I feel like reflects a backwards mindset that we owe our followers constant, amazing content, and that if we don’t post for a few days that our followers will notice, be outraged, and walk away. Even if one is using social media for marketing a product, a blog, or a brand (and agreeing that it is a good strategy), the content is still a bonus for the follower, a chance to connect. We owe customers great service when they patronize our brand. We owe them answers when they have a problem with our product. We don’t owe them 12 gorgeous photos every day.

    It is so easy to slip into a dangerous mindset of self-importance when posting out of obligation instead of simply sharing beauty and life. Everyone should feel free to take social media breaks when she needs to without feeling the need to issue a huge apology note afterwards. This may stem from the bad habit many women have of over-apologizing, but that is a topic for another day 😉

  30. Sara

    October 30th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this. I feel a profound guilt and almost dirtiness about my social media habits sometimes. When it’s 2 am and the only reason I’m not asleep is because I’m flipping through someone’s instagram and comparing my life to theirs, that feeling is there. It makes me want to wash my hands, take a shower, eat an apple, go for a walk. It makes me feel small and disgusted with myself. I think it’s really easy to get caught up in it and the mindlessness of it. A few months ago, I realized I hadn’t read a novel in almost a year. A year! I used to devour novels. I also used to not have twitter, or instagram, and not check Facebook like an addict. I want to go back to being that person, but keep the social media accounts for when I want to use them. I think I the first step is buying a clock to put in my bedroom, and leaving my phone somewhere else while I sleep. Thanks for writing this!

  31. richele

    October 30th, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I decided to give up Twitter a few months ago. I post to it occasionally for work items but I don’t log in to follow anyone. I decided it was making me insane and was not adding to the quality of my life.

    If I had my druthers I’d bow out of Facebook as well, but I have family that lives far away and it’s the way we all communicate.

    Instagram is by far my favorite but even with that I have to be careful of my consumption. I think everyone is going through this though. I have a number of friends who have removed it from their phones to curb their intake.

  32. Liz

    October 30th, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Wow, what an honest and sincere post, thank you for sharing it. I wanted to make a sincere comment in exchange. A friend recommended your instagram feed to me and I followed it and while thinking ‘yes, those are beautiful photos’, I also thought two things: ‘so styled, there’s no way anyone in the world really lives like that! Even the dog matches everything!’, and (while looking around the house I’m trying to keep looking semi-respectable with a new baby!) also thinking ‘why doesn’t my house look that? If only I could afford a new sofa / why didn’t I buy a different rug / why is there clutter everywhere etc’. Anyway, it’s early morning in Australia and I haven’t had coffee yet so this is very rambling, but I guess I just wanted to say thanks for being honest and I hope you enjoy your continued explorations in this area! You’re a woman with a voice and an influence and that’s a pretty powerful start.

  33. Britt

    October 30th, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Hi Kate
    I’m so sorry you are having issues with your mood, I struggled for years with anxiety, add, and really terrible and severe depressive episodes. It’s really hard. For me personally I wasn’t able to make much headway at all with my mood until I quit taking stimulants like adderall. It was hard to do as I took them for almost 15 years but after some health issues I couldn’t take them anymore. Now I truly feel like a complete different person-it may be something to consider. Many doctors don’t admit or understand just how detrimental they can be. When the days start getting shorter in the fall I up my fish oil, use a light box and take suntheanine (helps my focus too!) to guard against mild winter blues but other than that I currently don’t take anti-depressants or anxiety medication. In addition 80% of serotonin is created in your gut-it may be worth working with a functional medicine doctor (Abbot’s Penny George Institute is fantastic) to ensure you don’t have any food allergies, vitamin deficiencies or other issues contributing to this.

    Thank you for your thoughts about social media, I think we will take a break from it for the weekend and see how it goes.
    🙂

  34. Liz

    October 30th, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    I am worried my earlier comment didn’t make clear how gorgeous your dog is. Lovely little creature, she is! Ha ha – ok, on with my day!!

  35. Mailinh

    October 30th, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Thank you again, Kate, for giving us your insight–it’s always an eye opening perspective.

    I left Facebook and Twitter about a year ago because I felt that I had made it a big part of life that there was no need to be present and socialize face-to-face. Plus, I got tired of people saying, “Did you see on FB?” I thought it was sad to start a conversation like that. It also became overwhelming. I’m still on Instagram but I keep an eye on how I use it.

    I can say I love how I took out FB & Twitter–I realized that it was not necessary to sign up for every social media outlet that was offered. It gave me more clarity to how I wanted to live and not feel like I had to be a part of every single social media outlet.

  36. Fi

    October 30th, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    This line is awesome “Is curating a hyper-idealized, editorial version of yourself just another way of catfishing your followers?” and something I wonder about too, thank you for writing such an interesting and thoughtful essay 🙂

  37. Courtenay

    October 30th, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I honestly believe in the value of expressing our vulnerabilities, so thank you for sharing your experience. I love these personal posts you’ve been publishing—your voice is needed and appreciated! Thank you for your candidness in describing your emotional life. As a psychologist and an anxiety sufferer, living with a man with ADHD and depression, I can relate to the feelings you describe. Sharing your experience is helping to normalize the diversity that exists in emotional life—you have a huge platform and that is a gift!

    I only do social media for fun, but I still have to try to let go of perfectionistic tendencies when posting something. I like posting mediocre pics, I feel it keeps me real and grounded—like, hey I just saw this cool thing, and I’m not gonna spend the time to edit it to perfection. This is what I saw through my eyes, not just through the lens and the editing program. I’ve seen so much content at this point that nothing seems novel, and it gets boring. Sometimes my Instagram looks like one giant feed of (aesthetically lovely) similarity.

    I’m in academia, so I’ve learned many of my lessons there—there’s no way I can move forward thinking everything is going to be perfect. Nope, most things are just mediocre, and the diamond is indeed in the ruff. Patti Smith said in her book Just Kids (I’m paraphrasing): Just try to create something each day. Doesn’t matter how big or small it is. It could be a comforting meal, a photo, a doodle, or an atmosphere of love for your family. Spontaneous expression contains the novel vivacity of life, and I think this was what social media was designed to express (in it’s best uses). It is healthy to take breaks from the tech world, and it is also healthy to decide to move onto other projects if it feels right. Any time is the right time to get away from it all, to refresh perspectives. Present awareness, appreciation of all the wonderful aspects of life, as well as the depths of human emotional experience, are what makes life so beautiful—not solely pretty pictures and fancy words.

  38. B

    October 30th, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    I recently moved back home from college- where I was dealing with a lot of depression, anxiety and feeling very alone even when living with and surrounded by friends. I made the decision to delete my Facebook and limited my time on Instagram, and have since been finding myself living much more in the present with the people I love. I’ve been Facebook-free for 3 months now and I am finding myself to be a much happier, grateful person. This article really resonated with me and I can relate to so many of the feelings you mention here. Thanks for the writings Kate, and I wish you luck in enjoying your delightful moments in the present!

  39. Amy Saycich

    October 30th, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I love your closing line ‘Here’s to less media and a more thoughtful way of being social”. I have been thinking about deleting the Facebook app this week because I find myself looking toward it to fulfill something or make me feel better about a situation when really it is not. You have inspired me to!

    Here is to better days!

  40. Katherine

    October 30th, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    This was so wonderfully said Kate. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability throughout this process and for bringing us along with you. I sincerely hope you don’t stop posting because these are the sort of thoughts worth sharing. I so appreciate your willingness to share your growth even though it may not have a solution at the end. I wrote a similar article about yoga selfies http://yogadork.com/2014/09/23/yoga-americana-the-full-pose-phenomenon/
    and the trickiness that lies within our black and white perspective of it because NOTHING is ever black and white and I think it’s time we start to realize how necessary acknowledging the grayness of things really is. Thank you for doing that. I am so happy to have found your wisdom.

    Lot’s of love,
    K

  41. bridgetq

    October 30th, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    wonderful essay. so well said, and i know just what you mean about the “rabbit hole” and the feelings of irritability and low energy. trying this for sure! thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.

  42. joyce

    October 31st, 2014 at 2:55 am

    feeling your every word, hard. I recently deleted bloglovin’ because staring at other people’s lives, glassy-eyed and not participating properly in my own is not the way to live. Taking it slow, or stopping for a while, is a necessary reminder.

  43. The Links | The Good Read Guide 31st October | Rebecca Hawkes

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  45. Kelly

    October 31st, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Thank you, as always, for being brave enough to share these feelings. I relate to your post in so many ways. Though I’m not as present on the web as you are, I find it making its way into my frequent thought and often making it hard for me to really be present. I always enjoy your thoughts on these shared feelings.

  46. ladybossviv

    October 31st, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Beautifully written Kate. I unplugged from FB months ago because I was constantly annoyed and angered by the what was going on in my country where racist groups could say whatever they wanted on social media, creating so much hate and disharmony. The week I unplugged it was horrible. My finger would automatically clicked on FB icon whenever I reached for the phone. Now I’m happier, spend more time reading things that make me happy, styling the house, cooking more and taking pictures for Instagram – and that’s where I found you and your cute dog!

  47. Leo Sigh

    October 31st, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    I just limit myself to a few minutes a day on Twitter and an hour or so, while doing other things online as well, on Facebook. Anything else and it just takes over my life. Besides I see other people on Facebook in particular, who seem to spend all their lives there, and then I see what they do with their lives — nothing — and nope, that’s never going to be me 🙂

    Interesting post, btw.

  48. Rae

    November 1st, 2014 at 3:46 am

    This is an extremely brilliant post. I think that it is extremely important to question the choices we make pertaining to social media and self promotion. It is difficult to explain without coming across as though I am judging others who may have not questioned their roles as bloggers, but I personally feel like it is very important to have these kind of debates with ourselves because it shows that the online world can be full of thoughtful & interesting people who challenge the use of social media or the “point” of having a blog.

    I recently went through a similar phase, although mine lasted for a few months. I was torn between my feelings of social commitment (not the social media kind, but the social commitment to my fellow humans) and my role as a blogger. I became extremely disillusioned with the entire world of blogging and was questioning what kind of positive impact I could even hope to be making on the world via my blog, when I was posting my favorite outfits or beautiful architecture and home interiors. Granted, my blog is more than just that, but still – the egotistical nature of blogging began to bother me. I was also getting really disheartened by the massive amount of consumerism and greed associated with blogging (and vlogging) and the mass consumption generated by sponsored posts, hauls, etc.

    I also realized how social media had impacted me personally. Having to photograph beautiful meals, or wanting my own meals to be aesthetically pleasing less for my own enjoyment and more for the fact that I was anticipating blogging about it.

    Some of the best people I know are not connected to social media whatsoever. They are doing amazing things with their lives. I respect that so much. But what I am to realize too, is that it is also okay to be on social media it is also okay to blog. We do not have to exist in extremes. It is okay to have an ego and want to share pieces of our lives.

    I think your take aways are all really important and I agree with all of them. I also am asking the same questions you have posed in this post.

    I also think being able to answer these questions is less the point. The main point is that we question our role in social media, in consumption, we question our own vanity, and keep ourselves in check.

    Because on the other side of things it is beautiful to share with others. And blogging is sharing – it’s sharing a part of yourself and that is a lovely thing.

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  51. Desi

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    Great post, Kate. I have taken breaks from social media too. I had some similar feelings about it.

    I used to actually beat myself up a bit for not ‘styling’ things more. For not picking a filter and sticking to it. For not branding myself enough. It’s what I do for a living after all.

    After taking those breaks I realized that my social media space is my place to be in the moment. I don’t want to make it work. I want to really share. A lot of that sharing ends up being stuff I’m making in the kitchen, but that’s what I feel like sharing, so that’s what I am going to do.

    Grounding always helps us gain perspective. Thank you for sharing what you found on the other side.

  52. Week & End | Coffee & Tacos

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  53. Suzy

    November 3rd, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Hi Kate, have you read this article? I’m not a fan of the title, but the content itself seems tailor-made for the conversations you’ve opened on this blog:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/opinion/sunday/a-natural-fix-for-adhd.html

    Btw, I had been thinking about deleting my social networking apps for a while (as I do not require any of it for my job), and this piece pushed me over the edge- thanks! Looking forward to the continued dialogue. This blog has really become something special.

  54. Link Love 11.3.14 | Vivacions is Vivian Luu

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  55. Kate

    November 3rd, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Hi Kate, such a great article! Thank you so much for being so open and honest about a subject that affects us all, but not many people talk about it. I think you are right about boundaries, I have ‘unfollowed’ all of my photography industry peers on FB, so I can be in a right frame of mind before choosing to look at others work. I have found this to be a game changer for me! Also, I make sure that most of the time, I leave sweet encouraging messages. I also don’t get any notifications on my phone from any apps which helps keep me sane. xx

  56. Sophie

    November 5th, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Wow, thank you so much for writing this! I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and you never fail to inspire, but it’s so great to read something like this – something thought-provoking and honest. I’ve been struggling with the same questions you’ve brought up. My phone got wet a few months ago, and ever since, I’ve been using an iPhone 3 or no phone at all. People don’t really get it, and it’s admittedly frustrating at times, but it’s also completely liberating. Especially when all I see around me are people absorbed in their screens, not even acknowledging the person next to them. Ugh. Can’t wait to read future posts!

  57. Mid Week Distraction No.3 | Miss Moss

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  58. Malorie Bertrand

    November 5th, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Kate, thank you for sharing your thoughts. You don’t know how comforting it is for so many of us out there who live out a lot of our creative lives, our desired career paths, on the interweb. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only blogger wary of getting consumed by her next post or by curating the perfectly styled life just for her Instagram profile.

    I’ve been talking to a few other female bloggers whom I follow and I think there’s a need for a bigger discussion about being a blogger, having an online life, and what it all means in terms of our self-worth, our health, our lifestyle and what it all means to our readers.

    Would you be interested in doing a live podcast? We could all dial in answer questions, respond to questions submitted to us via Twitter and record this movement within the online world to go offline.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on this,

    Malorie

  59. Kate

    November 5th, 2014 at 11:37 am

    This post was so insightful and honest, and that’s very hard to do! I can’t help but notice I see a lot of posts like this from established bloggers, and as a new one, I have a hard time figuring out where the future of blogging is going.
    I wrote a post inspired by yours from that perspective, if you’re interested in reading my ramblings. 🙂

  60. Mun

    November 6th, 2014 at 6:25 am

    I found this article through Miss Moss and I absolutely love your honesty. I’m trying hard to find a balance too and would definitely love to muster up the courage to part with social media for awhile for my own sake…

  61. Now everybody is a storyteller | Mess Project

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  62. Sanna

    November 7th, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    I’m new to your blog … and this post totally jumped out at me. I can relate 100%. You have no idea how much of a relief it is to know that I’m not the only one that goes through these depressed moody funks. I only wish I better understood my own moods – what helps and what doesn’t. I really like your idea of sticking to no social media for an entire week – I delete Instagram and other apps all the time – but within a few hours or a day or two – I’ve reinstalled. … Anyway, great post Kate.

  63. Sadie

    November 9th, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    I took a break from Instagram and put the breaks on all the other platforms for a month and it was so refreshing, really makes you realize how much time we are spending on social media and how distracting it can be. By unplugging you actually start enjoying the now and are more present with people and things around you. Thanks for sharing your experience and appreciate your honesty and advice!

  64. Bee

    November 10th, 2014 at 6:08 am

    I am proud of you that you can listen to your own body & still make the necessary changes! That’s what is the most important! I just read another great article on telepressures that many experience (not able to turn off the email once home)! You are on the right path!! 😉 Take Care!!

  65. Link Love 11.3.14 | Vivacions | Stories and strategy, amplified

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  66. Jessica Lea Dunn

    November 11th, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Dear Kate, thank you so much for writing this. You literally have no idea how much I needed to hear this. As someone who really just has a toe in the water when it comes to social media, it is true that even I have the same feelings. I think, these feeling start when I’m on an endless trail of discovery, watching other people live their lives through a filter, a very narrow lens, and feeling somewhat sorry for myself that I’m watching other people’s lives on social media instead of actively living my own. And yet, if I do keep up with my intentions to post my images on instagram, my thoughts on facebook, and collect ALL THE PINS on Pinterest… I feel better, but once again it is an endless rabbit warren in there, with no end to the tunnel. And, if I’m the one regularly posting, am I not contributing to the whole problem? I’m so glad you took the time to rest. But… the question remains… what now? Hire a social media marketing guru? Disconnect regularly for at least one day a week (social media Sabbath)? I’m interested to hear how you tackle this. You are not alone.

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  70. Sharon Kingston

    November 20th, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Thank you, Kate. Your experiment and examination of this new phenomenon of living our lives out loud for the world’s consumption was insightful. I really don’t know how to do it and not have it impact my sense of self. I am an artist and I have such a desire to share my work, but not myself–and yet, my social media tracking tells me I need to “humanize” my “product” and that my brand is me–the person artist–not the artwork. The work is not enough anymore, maybe it never was, but given the tools and lack of other channels or champions, I now have to put my sensitive doubt filled self out there in a styled and filtered way (the bar is set high!). Otherwise, it is obscurity for my work. Sharing seems such a loaded exercise and a huge distraction to making. And, not done well, easily discarded.
    I will think about your question “How do we be more human without disclosing too much of ourselves?”

  71. Weekend Link Roundup

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  72. Weekly Wishes: #3

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  73. Weekend Link Roundup | Keiko Lynn

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  81. A Week Without Your Favorite Social Media…Can It Be Done? | Hey Where Are You Now?

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  82. Leaving Social Media, Think About Your Digital Footprint (Kate Arends Story) | Eagle Strategies Class Blog

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  92. Laura

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    I am almost in tears as I read this. Yesterday, I deleted my Twitter account. I have been gradually withdrawing from Facebook for several weeks now. I would delete that account, too, but my mother and grandmother asked me to stay as a means of keeping in touch (yes, they too are hooked). I haven’t updated FB all week, a real change from the daily updates (and sometimes more) I provided daily. I do feel quite a bit of withdrawal; much to my horror, I discovered this evening as I bought ice cream for a special treat tonight that I have acquired the unhappy habit of Thinking In Tweets. Should one limit their thought and ideas to 140 characters? Is anything worth doing if you are not doing it for a rapt audience of people you once went to high school with.

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  93. On the Media Balance Beam | the social media mask

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  95. BG

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    I hate that anyone feels like this but when you wrote how “oh here it comes again… Another dose of depression” (I know that’s not verbatim) but that’s how I feel and it sucks that life is so much harder with all of this technology which is “supposed” to make it easier… It’s the comparisons, the expectations, not being able to let people know the REAL you b cause you are so scared that anything less than 100%-happy-all-the-time-my-life-is-perfect isn’t acceptable (aka won’t get a “like”)

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  96. Social networking is having a big effect on our lives – Continue reading to learn more | IDSA

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  100. Entry one: Preparing for a Media Log | bradkerry

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  101. Entry Three: Evaluation, why is media so powerful? | bradkerry

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  102. Terrell

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    Hi, my name is Terrell. I’ve been having a hard time leaving facebook and instagram. I felt like that I won’t be able to learn new things if I continue using social networking where it’s filled with negativity, discrimination, judgmental, etc. I wanted to do better without social media and it felt great. I’ve been battling with stress, anxiety and depression for a long time because when I’m on both facebook and instagram, I usually get lesser likes and comments. For the past few months, I felt great by limiting myself from social media and I wanted to thank you for giving us some good advices on how to avoid it. 🙂

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  104. Why It's Time to Be Breaking Up With Your Followers - Wit & Delight

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