Self-ImprovementSocial Media

iphone at sunset

Here I am with a new perspective on social media . . .

I think social media can be great!

Now I can just picture you all rolling your eyes thinking about how wishy washy I am. But hear me out.

First off, I think it is good to let yourself change your opinion, go back and then change again. Otherwise you can never learn.

To those of you who read my first two personal social media blogs you would know that I took a break from social media for a week. If you missed out you can find the first one here and the second one here.

iphone at sunset

Otherwise here is a quick recap:

I went a week off of social media when a friend inspired me to do so. The break was challenging at first but in the end was very refreshing and eye opening. The week off also allowed me to decide that I could keep Snapchat on my phone 24/7. More of my thoughts on Snapchat can be found here.

After the week was up I decided I would keep up with the new standards I was creating for myself by keeping Instagram and Facebook off of my phone unless I wanted to post something. I soon ended up just keeping the apps deleted on weekdays and getting them back for the weekends.

I did this in attempts to train my brain not to crave the platforms.

It has now been about two months since my week off, this is my status update:

After a gradual process I am back on Instagram and Facebook but I am here to explain myself.

Yes I did start with just going on my social media on the weekends but that routine started falling off the rails slightly about a week ago. I got so used to not having Facebook around that I forgot to get it for the weekend! I was pretty proud of that actually, but then I got it the Sunday afternoon and it has stayed on my phone since then. Oops. And the weekend before that I ended up leaving Instagram on my phone and again it’s been there ever since.

On that note, I have learned how to work around having social media on my phone.

megaphone

Turn off social notifications.

It is easy to forget about the social apps when they are not constantly beeping and buzzing, begging for you to check the obviously urgent activity on your Facebook page.

I suggest you try turning off the notifications for your social apps as well. This way you can still have the apps on your phone and you can open them whenever, but you are in control of why and when you open the apps. Opposed to being controlled by your device.

It may take some time to break the habit of checking your phone constantly for no real reason. I know that I am still in the process of breaking it myself.

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Facebook is pushy, but are we surprised?

I also learned that Facebook will send you emails about the activity on your feed and page when you are not active on the app for a certain amount of time. I find these reminders most annoying. But I am not at all surprised by the pushiness. I am slowly getting through all the different “types” of emails that they send me to unsubscribe from each sort of notification, though they do make the process difficult to fully complete.

Both Instagram and Facebook also like to remind me to turn on my notifications every single time I open either app. There is a paragraph at the top of my feed screen when I open the apps telling me how important it is that I “stay connected”. I do not appreciate the obnoxious reminders. Why do they need all the power? It’s creepy.

Can’t get a break

I am still very aware of how often people are on their phones. But I know I turn to my phone in awkward situations also. Which is sad. It makes me wish I lived in an era where people had to talk and they had to push themselves through awkward situations. Even when there is no awkward situation we still turn to our phones! It’s ridiculous.

It’s a good thing the hit TV show Friends was made before smartphones, otherwise the show would have been very different. Ross would have posted on Facebook about his new international girlfriend before showing up at the airport with her surprising Rachel. They would never worry about reaching one another before they left Central Perk because they could could just text. And Joey could just become a YouTube star to fix all of his fame issues.

friends

Anyways, I think people should just know not to go on their phones when they are with friends. We all need to be present.

All this to say,

I still don’t think that social media is all bad. Notice I started this blog post by saying that social media can be great. But it can be used poorly, making its influence bad.

I have said this before but I don’t mind mentioning it again; social media is a great way to connect with friends and family. No matter where they are or what you are doing, you can reach each other. It’s a small world after all. 😏

Another reason I gave myself permission to keep social media is because I am leaving the country soon. I am privileged to have the ability to keep in touch with the loved ones I leave behind. I even went as far as creating a travel account on Instagram.

I guess this is just another reason to find a balance in the things like social media. I will use it to be connected and post beautiful pictures but I will not let the apps take control again. Maybe I’ll take another week long break from the apps again, just for fun.

Tess Houcher

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HolidaysMobile AppsSelf-ImprovementSocial Media

No I didn’t go anywhere. But I was away. I deleted my social media apps from my phone for a week. Therefore, I was away.

If you want to know why I left for a week, check out my previous blog here.

During my time off from Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (which I deleted from my phone two days into my week off of these other two apps.) I noticed a few things that I would love to highlight for you.

First off, it is challenging for the first 3ish days. The rest of the week wasn’t that bad. (So you could do it too!)

Yes, people did end up saying “Good for you.” After that first response there were a few different comments to follow. Some told me that they may try a week off from social media as well. Another person made sure I knew that just because I was doing it, that didn’t mean they were going to take a break too. Then there was just the eyebrow raise.

One unpleasant drawback was during down time in a group setting everyone ended up on their phones. In my attempt to bring my friends attention back to the world around them and not the ones on their screens is when I got those last two responses. This part of the social media cleanse was extra difficult. It also was a major eye opener to the norms of my life and of my peers.

It’s easier to go with the flow.

Another thing I learned about myself during this week is that I definitely had been prioritizing social media. Before I couldn’t tell if social media was really taking up that much time in my life. I realize now that it was, and that I now have time! Time that I no longer want to spend scrolling endlessly to fill empty time space.

During the week I was definitely hit with the cravings. I wanted to take a video on snapchat of my friends being stupid, I wanted to post the beautiful sunset over a lake on Instagram (with an inspirational quote of course) and I wanted to share the videos from my last concert on Facebook as I had said I would in a previous post.

If you didn’t post it, did it even happen?

These cravings made me realize how obscure my thought process had become in my years of social media and I am quite young! Why did I care to post all of these things? The people I love and care about and vice versa would find out about the truly important moments in my life. So why would I care about the likes on a post that is barely significant to even me?

It’s called FOMO- Fear of Missing Out: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening where you are not, often stimulated by social media. I see FOMO as a mindset that believes the grass is greener on the other side- the inability to be satisfied.

We are always teaching people to not care about what others have to say about you and your life, so why have we trained our brains to crave online feedback in an unhealthy way? A little contradictory don’t you think?

I would once again like to mention that I still think social media can be a great thing. Communicating with loved ones, friends near and far and enjoying the features available on the social media apps are all great.

But, too much of a good thing is where we get in trouble, just like most aspects in our day to day lives. There needs to be a balance. Post that picture, share the funny dog video, like and comment all that you want to. Just don’t become dependant on these apps.

It’s like food. Go ahead, eat the cake, taste the cookie dough, and share a big bag of chips with your friends (… or don’t share. ;))

BUT, you and I should not need the cake, cookie dough or chips. There is a difference between treating yourself and becoming dependent on the things you do not need.


Social media is the way of the world, there is no denying that, but if you agree that the addiction of social media is a little too mainstream for your liking, maybe try working on your balanced social media diet like I did.

Now this is the hard part, I want to continue to not need social media but I do still want to keep my social media accounts active. I plan to leave the apps deleted from my phone. But I am going to allow myself to get the apps back when I want to post something. When I do this, I will also go through my feeds and probably creep a few friends then delete the apps once again.

This setup won’t last me forever, it is just a way to reteach my brain how to think. How to not need my news feeds whenever I am bored or in an awkward situation. I am still not sure if this applies to Snapchat too. (To better understand my thoughts on Snapchat, my previous blog can be found here.) But I guess I will see how my thoughts are directed and decide if I need to treat Snapchat the same as the other two apps or not.

Well there you have it, if you have read this whole blog post then whether you like it or not, you now have an idea on what it is like to not be consumed by social media. What are you going to do about it? The choice is completely yours.

Let me know if you have tried a break from social media or just your thoughts on this topic in general. I hope to hear from you soon!

Tess Houcher 

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Mobile AppsProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial Media

If you and I were having a conversation and I said “I deleted Instagram and Facebook.” I think it is safe to say that you would respond by saying something along the lines of a “Good for you.” We all seem to understand that really, we could do better without the pressures and time consumption that comes with social media. But then why do we struggle so much to give it up? Or have we given up on trying to give up.

As a society, we have been diagnosed with an addiction of social media. We know we don’t need it, we are aware of all the time it consumes, we can imagine the peace that comes with a lack of the worldwide connection.

So why haven’t we quit yet?

First off, social media is really good at branding itself. It is a business and we are its loyal customers. They will convince us that to be connected and have a good quality of life we need social media. This is not at all truth, but it seems to be the reality for many.

Not only is social media good at convincing us we need it, we end up convincing each other that we need social media without even saying it out loud. There is an underlying pressure to keep your profile up to date and to like the posts and updates of your many friends.

Side note: My Nana actually does tell me to keep my otherwise useless Facebook profile up to date so she can know about my life… so I guess in some cases, I am literally told to post more on Facebook.

And once again, we seem to be addicted. These factors create a situation which has found to be quite difficult to escape.


Spring Break of 2016 I went to Mexico with a group of high school students and a couple adult leaders. The main reason for the trip was to help the people there. We went to a couple children centres, did maintenance and rebuilding at a couple different locations. We were there for a week and had no way to contact our families back home or use social media the entire time.

The trip was obviously amazing but the part that I will highlight now is my lack of connection with the whole wide world for that week. As stereotypical as it sounds, I felt free and at peace. I had no way to connect with anyone who was not next to me.

I loved how we never went on our phones to avoid awkward conversations, we were always present. The fact that there was no way to use our phones made it so we didn’t miss them. We were able to forget. It did help that we were in a mindset of helping others, being selfless and in a different part of the world.

It was very weird to cross the border, stop at a coffee shop and see all of the notifications I had received over the past week. Instantly we were reminded of what our reality feels like. As great as it felt to see all the texts from my loved ones, I was slightly repulsed at my instant urge to be connected again.

After spending a week with people who never feel obligated to post their thoughts, opinions, likes and tags, it was very odd to be back in a culture that does. I became aware of my selfishness. And what did I do about these feelings? I posted all about my trip on Facebook and Instagram awaiting the likes and comments.


It’s been over a year and a half since that trip and today I finally decided to give Instagram and Facebook a break again. Now how did I make this decision when I am so good at ignoring the issues that come with social media for me? 

I had a great talk with a friend last night. She told me it has been about a year since she has been on Facebook and about five months since she has used Instagram. With her decision to take this break she told me that she has more time. Not meaning she is always spending her time on productive items, but she does have more time.

She feels that she is now more connected to the people who really are apart of her life and she can invest more time into those people. She also appreciates that the urge to constantly be connected, to post, like and comment is gone.

I don’t think she has sworn off social media forever but for the time she is without it, she is definitely not missing it.

So, this morning I woke up and without over thinking anything, I deleted Instagram and Facebook….

iphone at sunsetI really don’t know how long I will last as my excuse to keep social media has always been that I love posting! I will start with a week without these two social media apps and then I will see how I am doing after that. I know I will get the apps again as I love to share posts when I am traveling and I don’t plan to stop myself from doing that.

This blog is not here to paint everyone with the same brush in saying that everyone is addicted to social media. I know many people who have these social apps but they are not at all addicted. I do however hope you are aware of the power of your self will. That you know that there is a life full of purpose and connections without social media. If you do take a break, you won’t regret it.

Tess Houcher

 

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