I spent the month of January avoiding social media and online news.
Let me back up. Like many people today, I’ve been obsessed with social media (Facebook, Twitter) and online news for years. It’s an endless void of links, swirling about, begging to be clicked. And, honestly, they’re really good at it. I clicked a lot of links in my time. Too many links.
I also made comments, got into Facebook fights, and read over political news like a junkie in a back alley trying to get another hit. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme. But, you get the point.
I decided I needed a time out from social media. Fear of losing out had clearly taken hold of my life and always being in the know about everything wasn’t solving my problems. So, in December 2017, I cut myself off of online news. I regularly read Google News, CNN, Business Insider, and basically anything that was free. It was a never-ending clickbait storm I needed to get out of.
Still, I like to read the news. What was I to do?
To solve the problem, I put my money where my mouth is and ordered a newspaper subscription. That’s right, a millennial who has never owned a newspaper in his life started to read the paper. First, I wanted to read journalism that wasn’t hyper-opinionated and drama-induced with headlines that’ll make you cringe. Secondly, I needed something that didn’t involve clicking. And, if you didn’t know, social media and online news are all about clicking.
The second problem was Facebook. The more I read about how they’re using psychological mind games and programming people to keep coming back, I knew I needed to get away from it and social media. Because I was hooked. I’ve been checking Facebook like a fiend for years. I got my news from Facebook. I found out what people were doing. It created a bizarre, false-sense of community.
It’s been over a month now. I didn’t check Facebook and I didn’t read online news. I’d get the paper from the mailbox every morning and read the main stuff over breakfast. Later, I’d do heavier reading in the evenings.
It’s been nice not to have to scroll endlessly for content. Instead, there’s a beginning and an end. More importantly, there’s closure. You have no idea how nice it is to know you won’t have a bottomless pit of content constantly refreshing. For a full month, I stuck to the routine, staying strong and keeping away from social media.
I was unplugged.
The results were magnificent. I accomplished more in one month than I had in six and my mind focused on other things rather than what people were saying on Facebook. Anxiety went away and I felt freer than I had in a long time. So, the benefits were real, helpful, and enough to change things for the better.
Now that the month is over, I’m not going back. I’m keeping my current routine. It’s been a breath of fresh air and nice knowing I don’t have to worry about the endless clicking and the bottomless pit of content.