Do a quick Google search online, and you’ll find any number of posts dedicated to the importance and worth of performing a social media cleanse.
Take this one, for example, which promotes the spiritual benefits of refusing to check social for a week. Or this one, which warns that you might be headed for a Britney-style social media breakdown if you aren’t careful.
Or how about this one? It claims social is straight up toxic, and features an eye-accosting banner image of a sad waif staring hopelessly at her computer screen, presumably dead inside due to the poisonous likes of Twitter and Instagram.
And you know what?
I just don’t freaking buy it. Whether or not you’re facing social media overwhelm, I don’t advise doing a cleanse … and here’s why.
I know, I know. Social media causes bullying! It encourages suicide! It makes you forget your real friendships, fry your brain and live a life of sloth and falsity!
And it can, that’s true. If you’re not careful, your social media habits can get mega-unhealthy. I mean, any time you’re looking at your phone instead of your children or crying because of something someone said to you on Facebook, you’re taking that shiz too seriously.
But I’ll give it to you straight: That’s a YOU problem. Social didn’t do that; you did it to yourself.
My lifestyle and happiness hero Gretchen Rubin likes to say that technology (among other things) is a good servant but a bad master. In other words, if you make it work for you, great. If you’re working to serve its needs, notsogreat. But guess who’s in charge of choosing how to use those alluring little apps on your phone and desktop?
So stop thinking social is your enemy, and start figuring out how to use it smart.
The truth is, if you have an unhealthy relationship with your Pinterest profile, your Twitter feed or your Instagram community, a weeklong break is unlikely to fix the problem. I mean, it might give you some much-needed perspective, but once you’re back … you’re usually back.
Plus, breaks suck. Who wants to be away from the tools that make life and business better for so many?
“Spoken like a true social media addict!” some of you are shouting. “The algorithms have fried your brain! You are completely addicted and THERE IS NO LONGER ANY HOPE OF SAVING YOU!”
Friend, calm down. Think about all the good social media achieves. It enabled the Arab Spring. It enables massive outreach for global charities. It’s how I met several of my best friends. Yes, really. Friends with whom I have tons in common, talk all the time and wouldn’t be nearly as creatively happy without. I wasn’t going to find that in my hometown … I know, because I tried.
So instead of bewailing the evils and just bouncing (only to return later with the same attitude), give up the idea of a cleanse. Be thoughtful. Ask yourself: What is it I really need? Why am I researching social cleanses in the first place? If I were to do one, how would I hope to act when I returned from it?
Your answers will be illuminating. If you can figure out what is causing the ick inside you and change your behavior accordingly, there’s no need to ditch social media.
Right now I’m in the middle of some HUGE life changes. I just wrapped up 5 months of major ongoing surgery. I packed my whole beloved house and turned it over to a property management company, and am moving from Portland, Oregon, to Belize in just a few short weeks. My cousin died unexpectedly, wrecking the family. My husband quit his job. And my children are transitioning schools and freaking the eff out because of it.
My response? If you guessed it wasn’t a social media cleanse, you were right.
Nope, I’m just taking this super novel and unique approach where I go with the flow.
Yeah. It’s a thing. Learn about it.
For instance, I used to dedicate so much time to my Instagram addiction, I was posting three times a day, even when I went on vacation. Sometimes this meant taking two dozen pictures before I left town, then posting them faithfully while I was away. That seems like a lot, I know, but for a long time I enjoyed it. Then the algorithm changed, and I hit the skids in my personal life, and it became less worth it. My attitude about Instagram became, Eh, I’ll get to it if I get to it. Now I post sometimes, and sometimes I don’t, but I still enjoy interacting with my community.
As for Twitter, I like it. I have a decent following and enjoy engaging when I can. I’m not quitting just because I’m busy, but I refuse to bow to the gods either. My Facebook Group is growing slowly but surely, as is my Pinterest profile. They’re not huge, and I don’t care, because each day they give me a little bit more.
Folks, social media IS your friend. It has earned me a dedicated following, boosted my creative dreams and given me access to some really, really cool people.
So stop the madness. Stop torturing yourself with the “I’m in! I’m out! I’m in!” rollercoaster.
Instead, just do what’s right for you. Ask smart questions, and give thoughtful answers. You and your dreams are totally worth it.
If you want to learn more about how to be a great writer or online creative while staying sane, I encourage you to get access to all the free tools in my resource library to learn more. While they can’t cure all social media or entrepreneurial ills, they’ll help. Promise, so go check it out.
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