I had another unplanned benefit to bringing in my sheaves this year. My only daughter was recently married a couple months ago, but this is not about the wedding.
My daughter was actually the one who did most of the planning. She lives out of state and since the wedding was to be held in her hometown in Texas, I was called upon to do only a few things. Most of the stress was not heaped on my shoulders. I wanted her to be able to have the right to decide what her special day would look like. She did use me quite a bit to bounce ideas off of, but in the end, she made all the decisions and I was grateful.
She had finished graduate school earlier in the year, and I work full time so it was truly the perfect project for her. It did bring us closer, in many ways, but I typically found that my ideas of a wedding were quite outdated.
About 2 months out from the special day, she and her fiance’ came to town for some last minute wedding details. I confided in her that even though most of the details were falling on her, the stress of trying to work full time, attend to her needs and that of my husband, career, social calendar and friends was taking a toll on me. I felt overwhelmed and stretched way too thin.
My biggest problem, I told her was my phone was constantly notifying me of Facebook posts, neighborhood posts, Instagram, text messages, Facebook message and on and on and on. I really didn’t understand how she was doing it all, I was doing very little, and yet I was the one who was stressed out.
Well this precious girl, millenial that she is, informed me that her generation turns off their notifications. If they want to see what’s going on on Facebook, they have to manually decide to open the FB app. Same for Instagram and Snapchat and email, etc.
This seemed revolutionary to me. Why hadn’t I thought of this. Did I have a fear of missing out, FOMO? Well, yes, quite frankly I did. I use my social media for work, so I wanted to be able to respond to inquiries as soon as possible. Anyway, I thought I would give it a whirl, so I went through every app and decided to turn off my notifications.
The first 36 hours or so, after turning off my notifications, I did feel sort of unloved. After all, I felt like I was out of the loop and didn’t know what was going on. However, as the days and weeks went by, I realized I had more time on my hands to do other things. I wasn’t obsessing over who liked something or who commented on my Instagram story, etc. I didn’t know what to do at first with all this free time, but I quickly learned to use it to develop my mindfulness and sometimes I just did nothing for a few moments!
I became so aware of how much idle time I had been spending on social media, I began to dig even deeper and decided to go through my followers and really investigate who I was allowing into my private life. Even though I use my social media a lot for work, I decided if you were a follower and I had not had a real conversation with you in the last 5 years, I rationalized these followers weren’t really followers, just voyeurs. So, the deleting began. After all, I was getting ready to post wedding pictures in a few weeks and I only wanted true friends and followers to have access to those private moments.
I started with Instagram. I had a total of 660 followers. When I started going through the list, I realized a lot of people had been hacked and didn’t know it. I realized this because the same friend would be following me from 3 accounts. Two of those accounts would have no photo, no followers and no posts. So they were the first to get deleted. By the time I was done, I was left with 256 followers. My Instagram coordinator at my office called that week and wanted to know what the hell happened! I had lost 400 followers. I told her I hadn’t lost them, I had purposefully deleted them! Immediately I began to get new followers and it was absolutely amazing that these new followers seemed to be quality followers, not spammers or scammers!
I don’t want to get too sidetracked here, because the real plus to all of this was I was no longer “trolling” social media. I was using my time instead to pick up the phone and call people as a way of staying in touch. I was reaching out in a personal way. No one on their birthday remembers who said happy birthday on Facebook, but everyone will remember if you pick up the phone and call them. One on one conversations are not overrated. Even millennials like a phone call, and to top it off with a free lunch or happy hour, well what could be better?!
I did also get bored a bit, I literally didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t work all the time. So if I wasn’t working, what was I doing? I got so used to not being tied to my social media, that I began to look forward to putting my phone down. I would sometimes just sit and close my eyes and contemplate.