Back in early January I stumbled upon a video by author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek. He discussed four reasons why millennials are difficult to manage – parenting, technology, impatience and environment. Normally my attention span for stuff like this lasts maybe 30 to 60 seconds, but this video, just shy of 15 minutes long, engaged me immediately and I couldn’t stop watching it.
According to Simon Sinek, a millennial is anyone born in 1984 or after, and although I was born before 84, there were bits and pieces of his speech that really hit home for me, primarily when he touched upon the technology piece. He said, “We know that engagement with social media and our cell phones releases a chemical called dopamine. That’s why when you get a text, it feels good… It’s why we count the likes, it’s why we go back ten times [to check the likes on Instagram]… Dopamine is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink, and when we gamble…”
I’ve never considered myself to have an addictive personality. Ever. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t gamble and I sure as hell don’t do drugs. Hell, I don’t even like taking Advil when my shin splints act up or I get a headache. But that quote up above kept replaying over and over in my head. Maybe I was just addicted to a different drug, social media? No, not maybe, I am addicted to social media. Yikes! This resonated with me for days. I felt uncomfortable and like I needed to make a change.
So when writing out my goals for 2017, the first thing on my list under my personal category was to be less active on social media and be more present with my family. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it’s been hard. I literally feel like I’m in detox trying to wean myself from sharing every little thing. The highs, the lows, the opportunities, the in betweens. It’s like social media has been my crutch to gloat and rejoice when something goes great or bitch and moan when it doesn’t. It also distracts me if I’m feeling anxious and entertains me when I’m bored.
But lately, I’ve been turned off by social media. It’s like every time I turn around I’m just annoyed by what I see, hear and read when I’m on my phone. It’s flooded with bullshit negativity, phoniness, passive aggressiveness… I keep trying to scroll through and find the cute baby pictures or motivational fitness posts when someone says, “Hey guess what?! I’m down 5lbs!”
Then I went away this past weekend for four days to go skiing with my family, and once again I was getting super annoyed with my phone. I ignored it almost the entire way to Vermont even though it was buzzing every two minutes with notifications. I told my husband I was debating on uninstalling all my social media apps for our long weekend, and instead he suggested just putting my phone in airplane mode. Brilliant, and done! I could still take all the pictures I wanted without being and feeling connected every second of the day or being distracted from what was important – my family.
It felt good to just stop looking at what everyone else was doing and not sharing every little thing I was doing. Although, I admit, I didn’t go totally MIA, because I do realize that staying active on social media is part of being a successful blogger, and partly why I’ve landed some great ambassadorships with companies like The North Face. While social media is really starting to get under my skin lately, my blog and creating a positive presence online is still important to me. So I chose a couple of pics to share on Instagram and pretty much kept it at that. I went from someone who shares everything all the time to almost nothing at all; from someone that looks at my damn newsfeed every time I’m not busy to pretty much completely ignoring it. I didn’t look at my Instagram feed, I didn’t watch any Instagram stories, I could have cared less about Facebook and even less about Twitter. I even left a few important emails regarding new opportunities unanswered until I returned home. I was liberating to just let go of the feeling of needing to be connected all the time and respond to every message and notification immediately.
Here’s what I’m starting to figure out – I really don’t give a rats ass if someone “likes” or comments on my pictures or posts. I share what I share because I like it and it represents me, and I’m more than comfortable and confident with who I am. If you like it great, if you don’t – keep on scrolling. I know that I’ve been asked to partner up with certain companies because they have specifically told me that they followed me on social media for a while before contacting me and liked my consistent authentic presence. Boom. If there’s one thing I’m sure of it’s that I am always me 100% me all of the time. I’m not ever going to pretend to be something or someone that I’m not. So like my pictures, love my posts, dislike all of it – whatever. I like them, they represent who I am and that’s all that really matters.
Here’s what else I’m learning – that some things are better left un-shared. Whoa. Who am I?! I’m conditioned to share every picture, every opportunity and every moment my child either blows me away or drives me nuts. More and more I’m realizing that it’s simply not necessary for everyone to know everything I’m doing every second of the day. In fact, I’d rather keep you all in suspense because then when I do post it holds more value! 🙂
But here’s what I already knew – I do not – I repeat – DO NOT need anyone else’s validation. All the things I do are things I love and things I’m passionate about, and I share them for that very reason – passion. I run because I love it. I teach group exercises classes because I love it and I’ve been taking classes for over a decade. I spend time outside because it makes me happy. And my family – well that’s just a given. These are just a few of the things that are pieces of me that I share. I’m a social butterfly, I always have been and I probably always will be. And yes, I love being connected and networking – it’s just who I am. But I definitely don’t need validation that what I’m doing, what I’m sharing or who I am as an individual is OK or accepted by someone else, because I’m more than comfortable in my own skin.
Here’s what else I already knew – taking the high road is definitely much better than pointing fingers or chiming in on something you strongly disagree with. Social media has got to be the worst possible place for people getting into tiffs because one person doesn’t agree with what someone else said or shared. We’re all different, and thank goodness for that, because it’d be a pretty boring and dull world if we weren’t. I see a lot I don’t like or agree with online, but I’ve learned to just bite my tongue, keep scrolling and keep my thoughts to myself. There’s a vast difference between voicing an opinion in a mature way and just being an asshole. As they say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
There’s a lot I love about social media, obviously. And I’m thrilled when someone says I motivated them to go for a run or I’ve helped them start living a healthier lifestyle. It means I inspired them – which is far cooler than a “like” on an Instagram picture, and it’s surely more rewarding. You can’t put a price tag or a “like” on helping someone change their life for the better, that’s a fact.
The ugly truth about social media is that it is in fact an addiction, and most of us are victims of it. I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, it’s been a pretty scary realization. In 2017 I’m making an effort to choose a healthier lifestyle mentally by detoxing a bit from social media. I’m more than happy with my life and myself, and I simply just don’t need social media to agree or disagree with me on it, or approve or disapprove of what I’m doing.