As many of my friends know, I came late to the social media party–joining Facebook in spring of 2016 and Instagram in spring of 2017.
I had stayed away for so many reasons. I felt busy enough already. I remained in touch with friends in other ways. I’m a private person, preferring to share my personal life with close friends. And so on.
Social media just didn’t seem like the best match for me.
But I’d heard that it’s pretty much a must for writers to maintain some kind of social media presence. I took the plunge!
What has my experience been in the intervening three years?
At first I felt like I’d landed in a whole new world.
So much news and information (not all true, as we know!). Humor. Interesting tidbits. Wow, I’d been living without all of this?
I connected with friends in the writing world. Made new writing connections. Reconnected with long-lost childhood friends, former colleagues and students, and my kids’ former teachers.
It was fun!
However, as soon as I joined Facebook, I found myself reading fewer books. Reading the newspaper less often and less thoroughly. Even writing less often. These had filled my cup for a long, long time.
I tried to “keep up” on social media and headed to bed later. I grappled with what to post, how often to post, and how much to share. I wanted to show up for all of my friends (impossible!).
I also felt as if a switch had turned on (or off) in my brain. Whereas I had never had concentration issues, I suddenly needed to make an effort to not become distracted.
I turned off notifications on my phone and on my laptop. I limited my time on social media. But still, it took up plenty of room in my life and in my head.
When I made the decision one year ago this month to get recertified as a teacher, I simply had less time to be on social media. When I took a teaching job this past fall, I had even less.
I just can’t be on social media as often. Period.
When I’m not teaching, I write. I consider it my other job.
When I have down time, I find that the speed, intensity, and public nature of social media often doesn’t call me. Teaching is already fast-paced, intense, and highly interactive.
You know what calls me?
More writing. Reading. Taking walks. Meeting a friend for coffee. Because these things are quiet. They feel soothing. And that’s what I need to restore my energy for myself, my family, and my students.
I’ve got to give them my best. Look at what my students give me:
Most days, I pop on to my social media accounts to check my notifications. I respond to comments, then maybe make a quick post and/or check my newsfeed for a few minutes. There are some days when I don’t check my newsfeed at all.
I wonder what I’ve missed. It bothers me to know that I’ve undoubtedly missed wishing someone a happy birthday or cheering someone on or sending someone a condolence. Or sharing something that my friends would appreciate. They’ve got lots of other friends, I tell myself. It’s fine!
But still, it nags. It’s less from a fear of missing out (FOMO), and more from a desire to show up (DTSU?) for my friends and a desire to take part (DTTP?) in the community.
Should I just delete my accounts? Well, my writing dream lives on. And beyond that, I still enjoy the interactions, however infrequent they may be.
So for now, I’ll continue to practice self-care — and live with the unsettled feeling that comes with not showing up even when I want to. I’ll just do so when I can. See you there… or here… or in person…
Happy Spring! I plan to enjoy the quiet moments that come my way.
Until we meet again,