I’ve been logging off my social medias for the weekend, every weekend, for the last 9 weeks. And if 9 weeks of taking weekends off social media has taught me anything it’s that taking social media breaks is not the life-changing panacea folks claim it is.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before: “Get off your phone, go touch grass!” “Social media is rewiring our brains for distractions!” etc. etc., ad infitum.
These invectives speak to real concerns. Concerns that are particularly important if you, like me, are seeking spiritual connection and insight. In order to welcome such insight we need discipline, devotion, the ability to show up, to listen. And the constant buzz, the constant promise of dopamine undermines that in a real way.
Now that I’ve been there and done that, I gotta say social media breaks, despite their appearance of addressing the root cause, actually…don’t.
Social media breaks segment and separate your life into an online and offline part, with the thinking that insight can only come during the offline portion, during the isolation. And that can be true, but it is also true that great insight can be sparked when we are scrolling twitter and find a hot take that we react strongly to, if only you can listen and be aware of when those insights are sparked, even amid the scroll.
Another consequence of my social media breaks was the way they actually undermined my sense of connection to real people. I have a feeling that this might be different if there wasn’t a pandemic, or perhaps even if I wasn’t a chronically ill person who was being extra careful, avoiding in-person contact with nearly everyone except for my partner and my most cautious friends. But in these pandemic conditions, I found my social media breaks undermining my sense of connection, not just to my online community, but to my IRL friends. It was profoundly isolating.
Furthermore, I observed the tendency in myself that once I removed one source of distraction, I was quick to fill it with another source of distraction, albeit a more analog one. Devotion, listening, paying attention to spirit is a discipline. In my experience, discipline is best built in small steps, not grand gestures.
I run an online business. It’s just me. I live in a part of the US that’s not particularly amenable to witchy business. And, y’know, pandemic. I need to use social media to market my biz, to reach new customers, to build relationships and trust. Is my business unspiritual? Does this bit of necessity mean that I am undermining my connection to spirit? To be frank, no, it fucking doesn’t.
What I’m getting at is that connection to spirit, divine insight is a WAY OF LIFE that we can strive to embody at all times, not just when we are away from our phones and logged out of social media.
This 9 week experiment with social media breaks has been informative, but it hasn’t brought the space for spirit and contemplation that I hoped it would. Going forward, I will be creating more space for daily practices, integrating spirit into small moments, instead of acting like I can force it into the container of the weekend.
Ultimately, spirit doesn’t work on our timelines, and it isn’t contained by constructed constraints of time. It won’t wait for the “weekend”.