Without even realizing it, I’d become hooked on every post and like. Waiting for the next update. Checking it all again and again. Stuck in the endless loop.
It was causing havoc in my life. Stealing my sleep. Ripping me away from relationships. Leaving me mildly depressed each day—without me even knowing it.
Strangely, I had no idea what to do to change. Until a wise friend suggested one simple thing: Give it all up. For 10 days. And see what happens.
I put it off. I kept thinking I didn’t have the time. What would my Facebook friends do without me? Or what if I miss that one message?
Excuses. All of them.
When I was on a trip, I took the opportunity to drop social media completely. Let it go cold turkey.
The first day was brutal. Everything in my body was screaming to check the latest. What was I missing out on? The fear set in. And as the dopamine didn’t come, my mind raced.
Breathe. Read a book. Go back to sleep.
Slowly I could feel my mind creating space. Space to think deeper than I had in a long time. Space to dream again. Space to act more, rather than being acted upon.
Day two was less painful, but still hard. There were several times I reached for my phone, ready to flip straight to Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin, but I consciously stopped myself.
The detox had begun. And as difficult as it was, it slowly became glorious. Glorious to be giving myself back the gift of focus. Glorious to see things I had (embarrassingly) stopped noticing all around me: my wife’s look in her eyes when she tells me about her day, my son’s smile as he shares his latest (hilarious) rap song he’s made up that day, and the best of all: the sound of nothing. Of pure, beautiful nothing. In nature. In life. The kind of nothing that inspires you to create things you can only imagine. The kind of nothing that can change your life, and the lives of those around you.
A few days into my experiment, my family was moving from one house to another. Something that would take an incredible amount of time, focus, and energy. Without the siren song of social media beckoning me, I found unprecedented capacity, and became more productive in those three and a half days of moving than I would’ve ever been with Facebook-brain.
I was amazed. When my wife saw the garage (filled with countless boxes the day before) completely cleared out the next day, she was floored. She’d seen the miracle for herself. Me minus social media was the best thing in the world.
Here are some powerful discoveries from dropping social media for 10 days:
Life’s greatest moments aren’t found in posts. The best things happen spontaneously, in unexpected ways we can’t predict, but can only appreciate. When we pull ourselves away from social media long enough to be fully present, we can find the most precious treasures in the world: family, friendship, focus, and the true freedom to be.
Facebook can’t replace face-to-face joy. When we stop it all to enjoy that conversation with a loved one. To give it its due, and truly be there, the clouds lift and we can create something special. That feeling that only comes when we connect with life itself.
Likes aren’t as meaningful as love. Relationships are built on listening. And no amount of social media can replace that. Love exists only in real life.
Sleep – Social Media = Better. This is where some of the greatest gains happen. Without endless (and pointless) notifications pinging all hours of the night, the mind can rest. And that means better dreams, better focus, and a better life.
There’s power in friending silence. Social media is always looking to eliminate silence by filling it. But in life, silence can become our greatest companion. He teaches us infinite lessons about the universe, ourselves, and the future that we can’t find anywhere else.
Finding that quiet, inner voice is priceless. With all the noise social media makes, that inner voice gets lost easily. It’s a quiet voice to begin with. When the countless posts pile on, they chase away clarity. Clarity that can only be found tuning out competing voices clamoring for our attention.
You can’t be original if you’re addicted to social media. For all the inspiring messages that are out there on social media about being our best and sharing our authentic self, it’s not going to happen if you’re stuck living on other people’s feeds. Life is about creating you. Being you. And sharing you.
Sometimes we wonder why over 70 percent of people claim to be disengaged in life (according to Gallup). The reality is we’ve been checking social media so much more than connecting with other people. And it hasn’t been loving us back.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate social media. Quite the opposite, I’ve adopted and advocate it like most people, but I came to a realization recently that I had to detox. And I put together a list of reasons why:
It’s stealing your sleep. Instead of dozing off at night you’ve found yourself checking that one last update — and then in a daze hours later having robbed yourself of sleep.
It’s making you unsafe. During the day, you’re driving only to be tempted by the buzzing, as if someone’s likes were more important than preserving your life and those of everyone around you.
It’s messing up your conversations. In conversations, you put it on the table, only to check it whenever you get bored, or when it buzzes even in the slightest — while people on the other side may be seeing you as someone who doesn’t care much for their presentation.
Here’s my strategy: Bury it. I started burying my cell phone instead of leaving it within arm’s reach. I could still hear the buzzing alarm in the morning, but I would no longer be tempted by its alluring light flickers and relentless updates. And it worked.
Then I instituted a strategy that would keep me from checking it while I was driving, and thus prevent unnecessary near-death experiences. Getting in my car, I’d stick it in my glove box, or stuff it in my pocket. One day, I left it in my glove box, went inside my house, and forgot about it for four hours. After spending time with my family, I realized I didn’t have my cell phone, but it was such a liberating moment to be completely unplugged for that window of time.
In meetings, I started burying it under folders or in my pocket so I could give complete attention to the people around me. And it has made all the difference.
I didn’t feel as enslaved or obligated to check, check, check all the time. I had tasted true freedom and it made life way more real. I was more connected to the moments that matter most, to my wife and children, and to friends and co-workers.
Start the Social Media Detox
Let’s get back to the moments that matter most: with people. It’s a big shift, since our brains have already adapted. Now it’s about you and I shifting to giving people the prioritized attention they deserve. I’m sure none of us at the end of our lives is going to wish we spent more time online, but we will definitely regret moments we missed with people, especially our loved ones.
Nothing can replace genuine listening, authentic sharing, and inspired collaboration. So, why should we let the latest stream of posts woo us away from what we know we need and others need most? Put people first.
Take the social media detox challenge for 10 days so you can become more engaged, more connected, and more energized in your relationships with others. Put it the phone away at night, keep it in your pocket or purse or glove box when you’re driving, and bury it under folders or in your bag during meetings.
Don’t let it rob you of sleep, of your life or that of others, or of the moments that matter most with your family, friends, and co-workers. Put it in its place and bury it whenever you get the chance. Live in the moment. You won’t regret it.