Motherhood + Life

Unplugging, Human Connection & Quitting Social Media

December 3, 2021

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I’ve been having these crazy thoughts lately. 

Crazy probably isn’t the best word for it… but a bit countercultural. 

Thoughts about what it means to unplug, to be the master of our days and time, and to truly connect and give our best selves to the people we love. 

Maybe you’re feeling this a bit too?

If you listen to my podcast you have probably noticed my growing angst toward social media and media in general- which is kind of problematic because it is my life’s work (former news reporter turned PR agency founder & media contributor to biz outlets & morning news TV for the quick backstory).

So recently, I swapped my smartphone for a “dumb phone” (this cute little guy called the Light Phone that does nothing but basic text, calls, and GPS) and logged off of social media to take a 2-month social sabbatical.

But, I’m starting to think it might be a forever-sabbatical. 

More on that in a bit.

Why did I log off in the first place?

I did a whole podcast episode about 11 reasons why … a lot of juicy feelings about ego, “sharenting” (yes- apparently that is a thing and I was guilty of it), privacy, self-mastery, digital addiction & more.

But you know what I was looking for most?

Peace. And maybe some clarity.

No matter how hard I tried, it wasn’t coming to me while scrolling my phone.

So, back to those crazy thoughts… 

You have more of them (thoughts in general, that is) when you’re not distracted by the urge to edit them & caption them for an online audience. 

And, when you’re not shoving your mind full of other people’s thoughts. 

Instead, you actually start to hear your own thoughts in a new way and you just have to… listen! (Cue the crazy part).

I didn’t realize how foreign this feeling was of sitting with my own thoughts alllll day long, until I logged off for a few weeks. 

Until I had nobody else to share them with. 

Of course, I have people in my life- my husband, my kids, my family, and real-life friends– but I don’t really just go around sharing all my random thoughts with them.  

I mean, that would be weird, right? 

But somehow, it has become normal to share completely random thoughts, reviews, decisions, and bits of our mundane days and internal dialogue on social media. 

So much so, that doing it in real life would be, well… kind of awkward.

“Hey hon, I’m just calling to let you know I’m on a walk and I saw a muskrat in the pond. It was super cute. That’s all… Ok, bye.” 

“Hi Dan, real quick- I was just at the grocery store and saw the strangest thing… there are these apples called GRAPPLES. Like, a cross between a grape and an apple. WTF? Is this some kind of weird genetic crop engineering… or is it kinda cool? Grapples. I can’t decide. Can you give me your quick vote on it before I checkout?” 

“Oh hey Mom, just wanted to say that I just had a vanilla oat milk misto and it was delicious, as usual.”

“Hi Lauren, I just did a new podcast. You can go to my website to listen. I’ll be sure to call you when I do that, like, every single week. Talk to ya later.”

It would be ridiculous. Yet, it feels totally normal to share all of these things and more throughout the week to thousands of friends and random people on the Internet. 

And it’s made me wonder… how has that changed the way we listen to our own thoughts when nobody is around to listen to them? When we have no audience? 

And even if we don’t personally post that kind of stuff, what about other people’s random thoughts we’re consuming all day- what kind of impact does that have on our own noise level, clarity, and breathing room? 

And all of this just leaves me thinking: WHY. 

Why do we do what we do? It seems like madness, really. 

This year I read a few books that attempt to answer this question and even interviewed a few of the authors. If you’re into this stuff, you might like these books & episodes!

  • Luke Burgis- author of Wanting– it’s all about “mimetic desire” and why we want what we want. I have binged all the information I can find about this! My interview with Luke is a great place to start. 
  • Anthony Ongaro, author of Break the Twitch – his book and our interview take a scientific look at our addiction to quick satisfaction and results, whether it be scrolling our phones or the ‘buy now’ button on Amazon. 
  • Lauren Ellman, author of BRB: Coming of Age in the Digital Age – this is a good memoir on growing up during a time when the Internet was invented and kids started staying inside, away from the visible dangers and predators of the world and instead let loose to “safely” play on the Internet. What could go wrong? Fellow millennials will resonate with this one.

I guess I just wanted to share some of my maybe not-so-crazy, but a bit countercultural thoughts about what it means to unplug, to be the master of our days and time, and to truly connect and give our best selves to the people we love. 

Will I stay off social media forever? 

I haven’t decided. 

Right now I’m just adjusting to hearing all my thoughts and learning to enjoy the quiet- not the actual sound level at my house, because hello 3 kids and all the excitement with the holidays– but the quiet I’m starting to feel in my head and in my heart. 

If you’re interested in this topic and making some radical changes with how you use your devices and connect with others, keep following along! I’ll be sharing more with my next season of the AMPLIFY Show in the new year. 

Wishing you some peace & quiet of your own-

Emily

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