The best thing I’ve ever done for myself is getting off of social media.
I know, it sounds crazy. How can an aspiring author exist in this world without social media? How can they live without scrolling through the bookstagram tag or retweeting helpful threads written by agents? If they don’t stay up-to-date on the publishing world every minute of every day, how will they know if it’s the right time to query their debut novel? I wondered all of this at first, too. I believed the lie that the modern professional had to spend hours of their day on social media, or else they weren’t going to get anywhere. But I’m here to tell you that it simply isn’t true.
Now, I didn’t delete any of my social media accounts. It isn’t like I don’t still post, because I do recognize that social media can be a helpful tool… when used responsibly. What I did do was delete all of my social media apps from my phone. Which, let me tell you, was one helluva change. It made me realize that social media wasn’t just fun, but addicting. I had a lot of false starts at first, where I’d delete my apps but then slowly reinstall them as my craving to scroll through mindless drivel became too strong. Then I’d hit my breaking point again and uninstall them, only to come crawling back days later. This went on for months until, finally, the cravings stopped, and the apps stayed uninstalled for good. That was when things started changing for the better.
First of all, my mental health improved tenfold. I suddenly realized how much negativity social media was bringing into my life. I mean, people are just so angry online. Have you ever noticed that? Everybody is mad at something. Some of it was political, obviously, but most of the negativity that was actually invading my Twitter feed was book-related, since most of the accounts I follow on there are authors, agents, and reviewers. There were people angry about publishing scams, people angry about problematic books, people angry at each other because they had different opinions… It was endless, and so negative and toxic. It made me sad, because for me books had always been my happy place. I didn’t understand why people had to be so angry and mean about them. Leaving that toxic environment helped to make books my happy place again.
Second, it helped me escape the self-doubt that had been plaguing me since I got on social media. Between comparing my journey to the journey other writers, reading tons of conflicting opinions about what is or isn’t problematic, and being force-fed the cold hard truth about how hard it is to get published, I was a mess. It all made me feel like I would never succeed, so why even try, you know? But once I wasn’t absorbing all of that every single day, my confidence in myself and my writing soared. It wasn’t that I was just allowing myself to be blissfully ignorant–I still read blog posts and watched YouTube videos that talked about publishing and discussed controversial topics–but I was able to decide when I absorbed that content and how much of it I was absorbing. And I wasn’t just limited to listening to the loudest person in the room anymore. Now I feel more relaxed and comfortable with my writing journey and the topics that I write about.
And third, I get so much more writing done because I’m not constantly distracted. I mean, if I really wanted to be productive I’d also delete the YouTube app from my phone (though I doubt that’ll ever happen), but even with just my social media apps uninstalled I find myself writing more than I ever have before. I mean, let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to remain 100% focused on your writing with your phone buzzing every three seconds to notify you about something happening on social media. I’ve heard of some people leaving their phones in another room while they write, but by removing the temptation completely I just feel like my head is clearer. When I was on social media all the time, I found myself zoning out during writing time, wondering what people were talking about on Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr. Now that I don’t get on social media at all, though, the thought doesn’t even cross my mind. I end up totally engrossed in what I’m writing, which also makes the quality of my writing better.
So, yeah. I’m really proud of myself for managing to kick my social media habit. It’s improved my regular life and writing life in so many ways, and I can say with certainty that I won’t ever let myself fall into the trap again. Sure, some days I may quickly scroll through Twitter on my computer just to see what’s happening, but it won’t be my habit anymore. It’ll be something fun I do every once in a while just to keep up-to-date with my friends and favorite authors.
How about you? What’s your relationship with social media? Have you ever considered logging off for good? Let me know!