As many of my friends know, I came late to the social media party. I joined 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 had/have dreams of publishing more children’s books, so I took the plunge. I’d heard that it’s pretty much a must for writers to maintain some kind of social media presence.
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! More fun that I’d thought it would be.
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 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. While it’s part-time, I’m devoting about 24 hours a week to it.
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 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 weeks when I don’t check my newsfeed at all. If so, I try to spend an hour or so on the weekend to check in.
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 really 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,