Giving Up Social Media

downloadThe honest truth is, most parents I know – scratch that – most PEOPLE I know could do a much better job at being more present in their lives. I’m sure most of us have witnessed this scene before: you’re out to dinner, and at the table next to you, the entire family is on their phones. Mom. Dad. Brother. Sister. All of them. No one is talking. No one is sharing about their day or interacting with the person across the table. Everyone is involved in his or her own digital life. It’s sad. Really sad. And though I detest it, I am not immune to it. I have been in similar situations. My husband and I sitting at opposite ends of the couch, both engrossed in our phones. Or perhaps driving in the car on a road trip, spending more time on my phone than I do in conversation with my family.

I am just as guilty as the next mom.

I have been reading Hands Free Mama and The Happy Family Movement blogs for almost a year now – and although I am inspired by their commitment to live in the present by putting away their cell phones, I was not committed enough to do anything about it. Then something happened. My 2-year-old grabbed my face, pulled it up from looking at my phone and said, “Mommy, you put you phone down, I talking to you!” Break.My.Heart. At the tender age of 2, my baby boy was already being made to feel that he had to compete with my phone. After just 24+ months in this world, he already understood what some adults don’t figure out in a lifetime – that when someone is talking to you, you should look them in the eye and give them your full attention.

And he called me on it.

I wish I could say that this moment spurred me to put away my phone, never picking it up in the presence of my children again. I wish I could say that I stopped reaching for my phone at stoplights, or during bath time, or even during dinner. But it didn’t. My awareness was raised, sure. But you know what they say about bad habits being hard to break …

Enter Lent 2014. Every year, I struggle with what to “give up.” I want it to be about more than just giving up Diet Coke (which is far more painful for those around me than it is for me), or sweets, or fast food. I’m not saying those things are wrong to give up, I’m saying, FOR ME, they don’t represent a real sacrifice on my part. In the wake of my toddler’s demand for my attention, I decided to give up social media. I love sharing with friends and family all the funny things my insanely cute boys do and say! (I know I’m biased here, but my kids are freaking HILARIOUS!) So, on Ash Wednesday, I deleted the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone and went on a 40+ day hiatus from sharing, posting, liking, tagging, and commenting on every post, picture, and link my 300+ “friends” could share.

Did I miss it? Yes.

Was it difficult? Mostly only in the teachers’ lounge when everyone was laughing about something they’d all seen on Facebook – something that I hadn’t seen.

Was it worth it? Ab-so-lutely!

Giving up social media for those 40+ days confirmed what I’ve always known, deep down, to be true: social media is a huge time-suck … it takes so much away from my life, and doesn’t really add anything to it. Yes, it’s a great way to stay connected with friends and family. Yes, it’s a great way to document your life and to share it with loved ones. That said … it’s also a great way to get wrapped up in the drama of others’ lives. It’s a great way to waste time that could otherwise be spent far more productively. Will I deactivate my Facebook account? No. But I will certainly be changing the way I approach my time on social media. Here are a few rules I’m going to attempt to follow now that my timeout has ended:

  1. No social media between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  2. No phones at the dinner table or the playground.
  3. No checking, or responding, to work email until after 8:00 p.m. (if at all).
  4. Turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. (This one may be the end of me, but I’ve been reading a lot lately about what electronics do to our brains and how they can actually be causing us to lose sleep. It’s worth it to try!)

It’s not much, but it’s a start.

What tricks do you have to ensure that social media doesn’t dominate your life? If my experience with my son hit a little close to home, what steps can you take to ensure something like this doesn’t happen with your children?

I'm Cali. I'm a wife, co-parent, and mom of twin boys who are soon-to-be 6, as well as brand new step-mom to 3 young adults who are 19, 16, and 14. I was born and raised in the Northland, and I can't imagine living anywhere else...unless you were to offer me a beach house, or a villa on the coast of Italy or France. I have been a public educator for 21 years, and I currently teach middle school, which I truly believe is the very best age in all the world. I enjoy reading, cooking, and traveling, and I believe ice cream is an acceptable meal any time of the day. I drink entirely too much diet coke, and my floors are rarely clean. I joined the mommy-club later in life after an 8 year struggle with infertility. I've decided being an "old mom" is a pretty great gig.