It’s Time to Embrace Slow Technology

The Slow Technology Experiment

In the first episode of the third series of Black Mirror, we get to follow the main character, Lacie, as she navigates life in a world where literally every interaction you have can be rated out of five stars through a mobile app. Chat with a neighbour in your front yard? You could be rated for that. Have a disagreement with someone at work? You will almost definitely be rated poorly for that. Mistreat or cheat someone? You wouldn’t want to see the rating that would get you – and that’s the premise of the entire episode. Everyone alters the way they behave at all times, knowing any interaction they have could affect their overall rating – and their life.

Lacie has a rating of 4.2, which she is content with until she learns there are advantages to having a rating of 4.5+. The rest of the episode shows the things she’s willing to do in order to boost her number, and how quickly she unravels when one argument has a negative impact on it. Against better judgment, she obsesses, lets her emotions take control of her actions and makes even bigger mistakes that do even further damage. The episode is appropriately titled Nosedive. And of all the episodes of Black Mirror I have seen, Nosedive is the closest to a reality we already live in today, which is life on social media.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say I have always had a love/hate relationship with social media. I will never be completely anti-social media, because it is how I have made countless connections and even built incredible friendships with people both locally and around the world. But I am also aware of how it affects me on a daily basis, and the truth is the impacts are often more negative than they are positive. Subconsciously, I am constantly comparing myself to other people. I feel disappointed when something I share doesn’t get a good reaction. And this is all heightened when times are tough, which they have been recently.

It doesn’t help that it also feels like the majority of what’s being shared on social media these days is negative (and not just because of the new president). The same way I constantly declutter my belongings, I am always unfollowing accounts that only share negative comments and content, but it just seems to be getting worse. Along with live-tweeting our bad experiences, it seems more and more people have learned the power of complaining about companies online. And I don’t know when it became socially acceptable for adults to shame and bully each other, but that seems to be a new piece of Twitter etiquette too.

Note that I am saying all of this as someone who feels she has to use social media for her business, and the majority of the people I follow are in the same line of work: bloggers, authors, podcasters, companies we work with, etc. For us, social media is not only a way to connect with each other, it’s a way to share our work with more people and potentially make more money. We have to portray the best versions of ourselves, because anything less could do serious damage. (Unless being rude or mean is part of your brand, which works for some people, but isn’t part of mine.) And good or bad, the number of followers, likes, comments and shares feed our egos.

When you work for yourself, you have to wear all the hats required to run your business, and “social media manager” is usually one of those hats. You have to come up with some kind of strategy to share your content, and even pay for apps/products to help you put your strategy into place. Then, on top of an overflowing inbox, you also have to read and reply to messages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Lately, I’ve started wondering if wearing the social media manager hat could be stealing my attention from other aspects of my business. And with the increased negativity there seems to be online, I’ve also wondered if I’d be happier offline.

I kept a journal during the first half of my road trip last fall, before my schedule filled up in the second half. One of the most memorable thoughts I documented was on the day I realized I was generally happy all the time, and I wondered if that was because there was no one with me who could alter the experience. I didn’t have to deal with anyone’s bad moods, road rage or the like. And I didn’t have to hear a single complaint. I was able to just wake up, decide what I wanted to do and go about my day. Now, I’m starting to wonder if that’s what life would look like if social media wasn’t part of it – or at least played a smaller role in it.

Last year, I found I was unhappy with how much time I was wasting on Facebook, and how unhappy being on Facebook actually left me feeling. So, I quit. I deactivated my personal profile in May 2016 and haven’t looked back. A couple weeks ago, I told you I had noticed my anxiety grew every time I checked Twitter, and how I wasn’t really getting anything positive out of using it lately anyway. So, I started spending less time on there… and it’s been great. I don’t think I’ll delete my account, but it feels good to have one less thing to think about right now. So, that’s what I’m going to experiment with this month: life without social media.

In fact, I’m going to take this one step further and say May will be the month I embrace slow technology. Over the years, I have already taken a few steps that have allowed me to be more intentional about how I use social media and technology:

  • I got rid of my personal Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ profiles
  • I get zero notifications on my phone (except for text messages)
  • I stopped checking email first thing in the morning
  • I cancelled cable 5+ years ago (and only watch Netflix)
  • and now I don’t have a TV in my home

But now that I’m more in tune with my anxiety and what triggers it, I want to take one big break from everything and use that time to figure out exactly what role I want these things to play in my life going forward. Here are my intentions for the month.

Experiment #5: Slow Technology

  • Do a 30-day social media detox (April 29th – May 28th)
  • Figure out the role I want social media to play in my life
  • Check/reply to email less often (also experiment with not checking on my phone)
  • Figure out the role I want technology to play in my life (phone, computers, TV, etc.)
  • Read from a book every day

Part of this slow living experiment comes from wanting to remove some of the unnecessary negativity in my daily life. Part of it is a result of the pressure to have + maintain an online presence. And part of it also comes from a recent need to feel more separation between my work and my real life – which is hard, when you are your work. But this experiment was also born from an often unspoken truth, which is that when I’m sad, I’m more susceptible to waste time mindlessly scrolling through social media and consuming information I don’t need. We do it to feel less alone but, as it turns out, it could actually be making us feel more alone than ever.

My goal for the slow technology experiment isn’t to completely disconnect from the online world or to isolate myself. It’s to make sure I’m using technology in a way that improves my life, rather than detracts from it. And it’s to press pause and take some time to outline how I can be more intentional with social media in the future.

What will I be doing this month that I won’t be sharing on social media? I’m in Victoria right now, and will be going to my high school’s 40-year anniversary party this Friday! (Friends who read this, come hangout!) I skipped our 10-year reunion, but this should be a fun trip down memory lane with a few friends. I’ll also be planning some trips I’ll be going on this summer, including two road trips in June. I’LL BE VOTING IN THE PROVINCIAL ELECTION! (Just thought I’d add that, as a reminder of how important it is to exercise your vote.) And, of course, I’ll be finishing the second draft of The Year of Less. :)

What is your relationship with social media/technology right now? Does it improve your life? Or have you ever thought about changing the way you use it?


PS – I have set things up so I’ll be sharing new blog posts on social media every Monday, but I won’t be there to reply to comments or questions. If you need me, you know where to find me. (Here!)

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  • Social media is definitely tricky for me. I don’t use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram personally anymore, and now only use them for my blog- which has been a nice separation actually. I do did a little challenge on my blog not too long ago called Social Media Free Mornings. I manage social media and websites for a living so I’m basically always connected. Putting that little buffer in my morning was a great way to gain some mental space. And it’s actually helped me be more productive at my day job since I haven’t wasted all my brain power scrolling through Facebook before I even start working for the day!

    • Managing social media for a living would definitely make an experiment like this tricky, but social media free mornings sound great! Glad to hear they’ve helped you be more productive at work. :)

  • Ahhh! What a timely post!!! Yours, as well as David’s on Raptitude that arrived in my inbox this morning!

    I am also doing a social-media-free-May!

    I did this in May of last year as well… I learned a lot and changed some habits, but over time they have slowly moved back to where I am not happy about them, so I’m doing it again!

    This time I am giving myself one small exception, 15 mins per day (using a timer) to check in with Facebook (on my computer) at the end of each day, so I can stay up to speed and in touch with a group of people I am doing a Spartan race with… they post workouts and meet-ups on a private group on FB. I don’t want to call attention to myself by asking them to communicate through other means, so I am just giving myself a max of 15 mins to check in there. If there is nothing to see, then it will be more like a 2 min check-in.

    My goal is to read 7 books this month, among a list of other things I want to get done or work on.

    Last year when I did this in May 2016 I read 11 books! I didn’t think I wasted a whole lot of time on SM, but that was the proof that I totally did.

    Looking forward to a month of being more present in life!

    Talk soon
    Dayle

    • I hadn’t read David’s post yet, but just went over and wow… it looks like we are on the same page right now, haha. Here’s a link for anyone who wants to read about his experiment: http://www.raptitude.com/2017/04/how-billionaires-stole-my-mind/

      I like the idea of doing a 15-min session to check-in. That might be something I implement with Twitter, after I’m done! Or I’ll do something like David’s experiment, where I can check it but I have to log in/out every time.

      You’ll have to let us know how many books you’ve read, at the end of the month!

      • Yes – I like his idea as well. I think after the month is over and I feel like I’ve made some progress that I might like to institute something like that… Use social media again, but only when I log in on my computer, at home, when I have free time, vs. something I open constantly on my phone every 5 seconds all.day.long!

        • Yes! I deleted the Twitter app a couple weeks ago, before starting this experiment, so I only had Instagram left… and I think that’s the only one I’ll add back to my phone later (and only because it *IS* a mobile platform). As for FB and Twitter, love the idea of having to log in/out to use it.

  • That is tough as a blogger/influencer. I know my blog “suffers” from the fact that I don’t spend much time interacting on social media, but I’m just so much happier when I don’t, and I’ve come to terms with that. Of course, I can do that because I blog as a hobby, not for income.

    That said, I have a similar conundrum because my church uses social media to organize and/or announce logistics of meetings and events. And while I find that to be a great use of available technology, sometimes I wish I could unplug and still have a clue what’s going on. I do go offline entirely during camping trips, which is a few weeks out of the year. I have a WiFi only phone plan and I find that a great way to limit the technology use, which is also important since I have kids and don’t want them to grow up seeing me glued to a phone all the time!

    • Well and I imagine the definition of how your blog “suffers” is relative, since it probably doesn’t actually make anything about your hobby suffer. :)

  • Hi Cait! I’ve also been thinking about a social media detox. I think I’m going to join you! Social media is a wonderful tool, but it definitely adds unnecessary stress and comparison in my life. I’ve been away from Facebook and Twitter for a long time and hardly use Pinterest. Instagram, however, is a tough one for me to shake, but I think it’s the easiest one to compare yourself with, so away it goes for the month!

    If you haven’t read The Circle by Dave Eggers, you definitely should. It’s kind of terrifying, but I couldn’t put it down.

    • I was nervous about deleting the Instagram app from my phone, too. But then I thought… it’s just 30 days. What’s the worst that could happen!? I know I’ll go back to using Instagram, because there’s nothing negative about the experience. But the rest? We’ll see…!

      Oh, and I haven’t read the book, but I’ll add it to the list!

  • I love this, Cait. I’m on the same page with social media being a love/hate relationship. I’d say Facebook is the worst for me, and I’ve always thought to myself, “If only I didn’t have to have Facebook for work, I’d delete it.” Maybe that time is now.

    I did a mini-experiment early in the year with deleting the Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone – it felt so freeing not to constantly check those feeds!

    Reading your post reminds me that it might be time for me to re-think my social media consumption again. Thanks for writing this post, Cait!

    • I’m with you in that I do actually need Facebook for work (I have a page for this blog + manage the page for Rockstar Finance). However, something I did that might work for you was I created a new profile where I have zero friends and no one can add me. And I just use that profile to manage things, so I never get stuck in the cycle of scrolling or creeping anyone’s profiles. I still don’t like having it at all, but at least this is a good work-around (for now).

  • I’m a big believer though, that sometimes we have to be made aware of issues in the world, especially if they can affect us or our loved ones. There has to be a limit to when you are exposed (like obviously, not all the time), but living in a world ignorant of issues that affect us is no way to live in my opinion, especially if it is something that I can be involved about to make good changes. I consider myself more of a social activist however, so maybe that’s not your ‘thang.

    Also sometimes the stories are good stories! I had a preemie baby and to this day I still follow Fiona the preemie hippo on Twitter (via the Cincinnati Zoo) because her story that had so many up-and-downs is now such a happy one!

    Also, did you do something different to your RSS feed? I no longer see the full post on Feedly. Just curious of something changed.

    • You don’t need social media to be aware of issues, though. That’s one way to learn about things immediately, every time you log on… but the news has been around for a long time. :)

      And I’ve made a few changes, since updating the site design. It’s a short feed now.

      • I see what you mean–dont depend on social media for your news. I couldn’t agree more.

        Is that a permanent change? I like using Feedly to simplify my reading and I’d hate to miss your updates going forward if I can’t read them in the app.

  • “But this experiment was also born from an often unspoken truth, which is that when I’m sad, I’m more susceptible to waste time mindlessly scrolling through social media and consuming information I don’t need.” – Yes, yes and yes. I really notice this when I’m feeling more vulnerable. It’s like wanting to check out of my own life and enter someone else’s, so it seems, ‘amazing’ life. And then fall into the comparison trap and end up berating myself – for not being x or y! Last November I did a weekend silent retreat, in which I just turned off my phone and left it off till the end – it was so freeing. It was something I said I must do more often, but again fell into the information at a click of a button trap. It’s something I must try again without the setting of a weekend silent retreat. Anyways enjoy Victoria and the high school anniversary :)

    • I love the *idea* of a silent retreat, but am also terrified of it – and I would imagine I’m not alone in that concern. Did you see people during that time? Or were you totally alone?

      • I did a silent retreat yesterday! It was 6 hours and I really enjoyed it. I don’t know if I could do days, but a few hours was a nice change of pace.

      • I totally understand that! I was just the same… slightly freaking out before I even arrived at it. During the first sitting in silence – my heart was pounding, I was sweating like crazy and my head was replaying “what the hell I’m I doing here?” It was a mindfulness meditation retreat so there was a crowd of about 30 and a mindfulness teacher. I had been practising mindfulness for about 2 years before it and one of my teachers recommended another teacher to try the weekend retreat with. So there was someone on hand if questions arose and you needed some guidance. I am hoping to do a longer one at some stage but building my way up slowly – because it can be a mixed bag. I know you mentioned that you have read Dan Harris book “10% Happier” – it gives a good blow by blow of what it can be like.

  • You aren’t alone, Cait. Not at all.

    I’ve had to realize that my inputs influence my outputs (and my thought life) far more that I would like to believe. Negative things have come to the surface in my own life – selfishness, ungratefulness, jealousy, envy, anxiety, ect. Is it social media’s fault? Eh…not quite. I’m the one doing the scrolling.

    After I gave birth to my daughter, right when the US Presidential Primaries were in full swing, I found that I could NOT handle the sensationalism of news and social media. I still longed to know what was going on in the world, but I could not deal with the people, organizations, and outlets that thrived on “clickbait” and stirring up emotions.

    I’ve been enjoying living offline more and more. Instead of reading about parenting, I hang out with my daughter – okay, that’s a work in progress. Still attached to my phone. I try to read physical books instead of gazing at more pixels. And I garden.

    I feed my mind and my soul on life giving things.

    And when I don’t? Oh, I feel the difference!

    So Cait. You are NOT alone.

    • You used four short words here that really stood out for me: a work in progress. That’s what we all are, and it’s such a healthy mindset to have. I am starting to see that each of these monthly experiments are examples of the fact that I am definitely a work in progress. And no matter how successful any of them are, that will never change – and I think that’s a good thing. We should always be paying attention to how things make us feel, and altering our relationships with the things that make us feel bad.

  • That episode of Black Mirror is the only one I saw. My husband loves the show and when that season was released I told him I’m deleting Instagram because it is a time suck and I am missing my life for the sake of posting it online, then monitoring how many likes it gets. What is that?! So when he watched that episode, he said I had to because I’d appreciate it. It was really creepy to see how close we really are to that. The only difference between that and reality is you can’t see it around the person. haha. But we do judge based on how many followers or likes one has or what we do not have.
    I have a personal FB (which I don’t really use often…just means to keep in touch with people I cannot otherwise) and Twitter (as you know!). My biggest downfall is YouTube. Recently I reduced my subscriptions from 16 to 5 and one is my husband’s music channel. We spent so much of our days living the lives of others through our devices, missing our own lives.
    I would love to join you on this detox. After years away from Twitter, I discovered the value in it because I can write direct to bloggers I enjoy and communicate with them. YouTube has been a time suck and hardly holds any value anymore, Facebook – I am indifferent to.

    I look forward to your re-cap! Please keep us posted throughout the 30 days how this is coming along.

    • See, and I find this so interesting, because I think Instagram is the only one I’ll actually continue using after all of this! And I never look at YouTube. But that’s just another example of the fact that we all get value from different things. Appreciate you sharing and adding more to this post! :)

  • I avoid most social media as I found it only added stress and more anxiety to my life. The people I need to be in touch with have my phone number and email address. I also avoid most TV except for two shows per week and the occasional movie on Netflix. To stay informed I check the news online during my lunch break at work, but I keep that as brief as possible. I spend most of my free time reading, meditating, taking long walks, trying new foods, and socializing face to face with friends and family.

    My issue with social media is how much time my husband spends on Facebook. He claims it helps him with his work, (he freelances), but from what I’ve observed it seems to be more of a time suck than a career booster and he could be using it more efficiently. As frustrating as this can be I have learned in the 20+ years we have been together that I can’t change him so the only request I make is that he not include his iPhone or iPad when we are doing something or talking together. He respects that so I leave him alone and hope one day he will realize it for himself.

    • That’s a fair request: to be present with you when you’re together. I’m glad he respects that, as it shows people (you) are a bigger priority than the internet. :)

  • Hi Cait
    It’s scary how difficult it is to put down my iPad! I meant to post this on the anxiety post but it links to technology. Take a look at Moodscope and Moodnudges. Moodnudges is a daily email with nudges to change your mood, by a man who works on this type of mood related things. He’s writing a book too and the daily emails are supportive.
    Moodscope is a way of tracking your mood as often as you like by choosing a rating for a series of words (1-4 rating for things like Anxious, Proud, Scared). You can send your score to buddies and track your mood over time. The blog also posts a daily piece written by a Moodscope user and is again a very supportive environment. Jon, the man who runs Moodnudges was one of the developers of Moodscope before he moved to the US.

    • Just signed up for Moodnudges! Thanks, Victoria! And I’m currently tracking my moods using Pacifica, but will look at Moodscope if I don’t feel like it’s working for me.

  • Thank you for this post. I only have an instagram and an email account and still do sometimes think, that I spend too much time with my tablet. It sometimes is a real waste of time. I read somewhere that you can only grow as a child through real experiences and not through screentime. I guess this also applies for adults in a way. It is always good to remind oneself of that and cut back on screentime, which is of course more difficult to do for people who earn their money with it. I find your journey very inspiring and am currently reading through all of your posts (I am at May 2014 right now). Have a wonderful and healthy week

    • “You can only grow through real experiences and not through screen time.” That sentence should be essential reading for everyone.

  • Yes!!! I decided on Easter weekend to take a facebook break. I had resisted Twitter and
    other platforms, thankfully. It was becoming such a time suck, the constant scrolling and linking and reading this and that, like a never ending magazine and shiny object, not to mention the negativity. That has also lead me to watch less TV and to break that habit of turning it on just to turn it on. I realized that I have so many things I want to DO in my life and sitting on a computer screen is taking away from those things. I am now reading more books (I read alot to begin with), rejuvenating my yoga practice, meditating, listening to podcasts, cooking and going outside to just go outside. It’s lovely. Life without social media gives my mind and spirit rest and space. As I put that energy out into the universe I am coming across more and more podcasts and blog posts about this topic. It seems many are having the same awakening. Funny how that happens!

    • Yes, isn’t that interesting! I’m also wondering if we’ve all been subjected to non-stop negativity online for the past 6-12 months, specifically, and are feeling like it’s time for something to change…

  • I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing, so this post is very timely! My anxiety is going through the roof, lately. So yesterday or the day before I deleted the FB ap off of my phone. I still keep it on my iPad, though. There are events and groups I’m a part of that only share info on FB. So I’m trying to figure out how to keep up with the groups that I am a part of AND keep my sanity. Thank you for sharing everything that you’ve been sharing. It’s been very helpful to me and my journey as well.

    • Deleting the Facebook app from my phone felt so good, last year! I deleted the Twitter app about a month ago. Now, Instagram is gone too… and I think that’s the only one I’ll bring back, when this experiment is over.

    • I am doing the same. For the past few months I have not had the FB app on my phone, but would always be logged in and scrolling it using my phone’s browser (silly!) … so for my “no social media May” I am allowing myself a few minutes in the evening to check in with Facebook notifications on my iPad. I am not doing any scrolling or looking at my newsfeed, just checking notifications to keep up with a few groups I’m in that are important to me. It’s working well so far!

  • I use social media mostly as a lurker — hopefully not in a creepy way — to see photos of family kids who don’t live nearby and keep up with their activities and milestones. There’s nothing like sweet little smiling faces to brighten my day.

  • I love your posts Cait, because they somehow seem to be timely for me as well :) I have not been active on Twitter (except to tweet out my and/or friends posts). Twitter has become, for lack of a better word, a “killjoy”, It is no longer fun to utilize and it depresses me with all the negativity and gloom and doom atmosphere that has taken over. It really and truly just bums me out. I’ve never had Facebook so I never went down that rabbit hole. I like Instagram but I haven’t been posting that much there either. I think I am just absolutely burnt out on social media right now. Being “connected” is losing a bit of its luster…

    • “Being ‘connected’ is losing a bit of its luster…” <-- isn't that the truth, my friend. Isn't that the truth.

  • Love this experiment, Cait! :) I like many of the connections I’ve made online, but don’t always love social media. Personally, I quit Facebook several years ago. I was completely disengaged from social media before starting my blog. Once I started the blog, I begrudgingly started back, but have tried to keep usage minimal. I share others’ great content and respond to my notifications, but never scroll. I only get on Facebook 2x/week now, but Twitter is more frequent. I don’t have any notifications go to my phone either. I do a social media fast most weekends too, which I look forward to each week! Your post is a great reminder that it’s totally okay and healthy to take a step back from technology.

    • I’m with you on the fast on weekends. I found I would check it, but never really responded to anything on weekends. (Also, just found people were less active on social media in general on weekends.)

  • I can really understand you becaus eI find technology good but I still love write send and receive snail mail, take a real coffeee with a friend instead to “talk” via whatsup but at the same time I like Instagram…some days I check social mediaplatform more often, others only one time all day…

    • Yea, Instagram was definitely a bit of an addiction for me – at least I noticed that last month…

  • Thanks for talking about this. Several months ago, I hit a wall. My anxiety adn depression were steadily getting worse, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, my ADHD was near unmanigable and I was simply unhappy. After some self-evaluation I finally admitted that I had, in many ways, became addicted to my smartphone as a coping mechanism. That when I was stressed in my spare time, at work, when I was sleeping I would turn to my phone to deliver some sort of distraction and in the end it felt like it was sucking my life away.

    At that point I decided to buy a $25 dollar flip phone and experiment with temporarily switching from my smart phone to see how that impacted my life. Within a week, I was already starting to get my life back together and I decided to make the switch perminent. Now, I only use my computer at dedicated times to access the internet. No exceptions.

    It might seem a little extreme, but if you think about it 5-7 years ago you survived just fine without a smart phone. I’d highly recommend giving it a shot, especially if you are on a GSM network where you can switch your SIM cards back and forth without setting anything up (example: TMobile). It’s a pretty cheap and easy experiment that at least in my experience has a huge positive impact.

    Anyway, thanks for being awesome and sharing!

  • I have a complicated relationship with social media. I’ve done a few month-long detoxes, just as a challenge to myself, and I enjoyed every minute of those months. And yet, I have never been able to give it up entirely. I guess the truth is that as much as I hate it sometimes, there is still that part of me that wants to be connected and *gasp* maybe even enjoys social media a bit. I’m an introvert, so I am surprised to discover this about myself.

    I think what has always helped for me is that my social media usage is limited. I only use 3 platforms: Facebook, Insta, and blogging. No Twitter, no Snapchat, etc. And I don’t follow many people either – only people I know and care about, and some celebs I find interesting and athletes I admire, and accounts that post beautiful photos. For these reasons, I not only find Instagram manageable but also enjoyable as well. Another thing that helps is that on weekends I cut way down on social media – I don’t read blogs, and only check the other two for notifications.

    • I agree, this is why I enjoy Instagram so much. The accounts I follow post great photos, are motivational, or are friends and family I know IRL. I have gotten good at unfollowing accounts who bring up negative feelings, so all that remains is enjoyable content!

  • Hi Cait,
    Really interesting post. I’ve basically just joined social media because of my blog and to be honest I feel like it’s because I need to from a business point of view not because I’m leaping into the conversation with both feet. Do you think social media is essential to growing a blog?

    I love email and blog comments, but I’m scared of how social media could disconnect me from the present moment if I allow it. I’m also worried about how much time it will take up which was the main reason why I held off for so long!

  • Hi Cait,
    This is great and very timely for me. I’ve disconnected my internet and cable at home partly for financial reasons but also because I was just spending soooo much time on the internet basically doing nothing. I sit at a desk all day with my job (where I can check my email, etc.) so I didn’t want to keep looking at a screen when I got home. I’m hoping this will get me reading more and outside more especially with the nice weather coming. So far it’s been 4 days and I’ve survived :)

  • That episode of Black Mirror was the first episode of the show I watched! After I finished the episode, I just sat in my bed thinking about how real to life it felt. The aspect of keeping up with appearances, conflating a personality, doing things with the sole focus of the result in mind.

    I have a good relationship with social media right now. I used to spend a lot of time scrolling Twitter, but through a few breaks and journaling, I started to get a more clear picture about my habits with it. The problem is how easy it is to revert back to old habits.

  • Yes, Cait!!! (I’m a bit late to this party because of slow email, high five!)
    I’m happy to hear your keep taking steps towards a life that fits your dreams more, and I reiterate my admiration for your constant evaluation of what fits into your plans and happiness and what doesn’t. It’s so so so easy to get caught in the routine.
    I’ve been thinking a lot about social media presence and online presence in general, and was wondering if you have some guidelines for deciding when to engage in comment threads or not. I’ve seen some public people who seem to feel the need to “like” every comment that they get in order to not look like they don’t acknowledge the contribution. Do you ever feel this kind of pressure?
    As always, thank you for sharing :) and best of luck with this month of slow technology!

  • I am totally consumed with this topic right now. I find Instagram to be the thing that darkens my mood the most. I feel this weird pressure to like every picture of my close friends and family members taking selfies in the gym mirror or I am positive they will know I am judging them. And who am I to judge anyone?!! The whole thing puts me in a yuck loop. So I am very fine avoiding Instagram. I use Facebook and Pinterest for my blog, but not a ton. Twitter is my problem – I am very fired up about what is happening in the US politically right now and just constantly scrolling, looking for a bit of good news, finding only horror and anxiety instead. I am really struggling with this. But I did finally figure how to hook up my kindle account to my library, so that’s a step in the right direction. “The Case Against Sugar,” a book I’ve wanted to read for a while, is waiting for me. And I only have two weeks before it returns itself, so I need to step away from the screen if I want to get to finish it! Thank you for spreading sanity on this topic. I need to hear this message like 10 times a day.

  • Needed this!!! ❤

    I love how social media makes it easier to communicate with friends and family who are in another country. But I do get distracted and waste time scrolling my feed. Its a good idea to limit and have speific time to check it.

  • I took email off my phone a year or so ago – changed my life. I have kept Twitter but have it and may other apps set to only work when I have wifi. These things really helped. Best of luck!

  • I’ve been off fb since Feb or March, though I use the messenger app to communicate with my daughter & her boyfriend, as they prefer it – but you don’t need to be signed into fb to use it.
    I’m inspired that you dropped your personal account in 2016. I’ve deactivated many times before, and I’m hoping this time it sticks. For some reason it brings out anxiety in me.
    Instagram on the other hand I find almost soothing. Its something I don’t look at during work hours, as I treat it more like a reward. I follow some really cool, creative people and it doesn’t stress me out at all. I’ve seen so many beautiful nature & travel shots that are inspiring & uplifting. I guess Instagram brings out good feelings in me for whatever reason. But if I had to live without it, I could.

  • I so empathize with everything you wrote! I also have a love/hate relationship with social media–especially FB and Twitter. I used to love it when they were more social. But nowadays they’re forums for advertising or complaining. We don’t seem to truly talk anymore. This is why I like Instagram–I get to see what’s going on in people’s lives in a less intense way.

    Like you, I have wanted to get off of social media, too–but am a cookbook author and I am afraid that if I do, I won’t reach the people need to reach. That said, I am slowly realizing that “my people” (the ones who read my blog, attend my events, and buy my books) follow my blog. They don’t necessarily follow my social media accounts (some do but many don’t). This has given me the courage to think about withdrawing from social media a bit more and do more work to creating a community around my blog and classes and books. I would love to have a give and take that isn’t purely “comments-reply to comments.” So, that’s what I am exploring right now.

    Also, I have a lot of anxiety in general–I have been following your journey with anxiety and wanted to say that you are not alone!

  • Hi Cait!
    I just needed to send you a message because I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and also listening to you podcasts episodes while I’m walking to work. I just love the things that you write, and I was listening to one of your episodes in which you said that you were going thorough a very anxious period in your life, and that you didn’t know if you are in the right track or not, specially about your money. So I had to write to you to let you know that I’m Brazilian, and that I’ve been reading your stuff and listening to you every morning this far, in Sao Paulo city. So, you manage to be listened and to express yourself all the way through South America, so you can’t be that bad, right?! Actually, I think you are a very successful and joyful person, and you definitely brings me joy and make me think about my life every time I get to read your posts. Anyway, I just needed to tell you how far you have reached and that you are definetely on the right track!
    Oh, and about your recent post, I eliminated all my social medias in 2010, and I haven’t missed at all! Actually, its been kind of sad to see how addicted all my friends are about and how they don’t realize all the precious time they are wasting. Another thing that really bothers me is how everyone’s life seems so much better on fb, specially how successful they look, while they are actually pilling up a lot of consumer debt and making everyone else think that they need it. So, I hope you have a very interesting slow technology May!

  • I do believe social media is a stress factor, but I also believe it’s a powerful tool for businesses, bloggers and so on.

    With that being said, I do use social media, but mainly to promote my blog and to connect with others who do the same, I’ve discovered so many interesting people and read so many great articles and bookmarked so many blogs (this one included) thanks to social media!

    On the other hand, seeing how it’s extremely time consuming and, like you said, you don’t really get anything positive out of using it anyway, I’ve uninstalled every single app from my phone, except for Facebook (I keep in touch with my family abroad through it). Everything else – gone. Unless it helps me get more exposure for my blog or writing business, it’s “arrivederci” :)

  • I read David’s post at Raptitude earlier, and now your post. Thanks! I am scaling my social media back in May to about 10% of what it was. So far it has been a success, and I have gotten more done this month than I have in a long time.
    Thanks for the post!!!

  • I can totally understand what you are saying, and I think it’s sad that for some people, it is starting to affect the way they live their lives. There is an instagram account for “Where’s My Office Now?” about this couple that lives in a VW Westfalia. I first started watching them on youtube a few years ago. They’ve begun getting sponsored, and they’ve realized on Instagram that people like to see the girl, Emily, (who is beautiful) in a bikini. There was a New Yorker article posted about them, and she remarks how a photo that she had taken four years ago, a close up of a beautiful flower, she would NEVER put up there now. It just doesn’t fit their “brand.” It’s like they’ve allowed their lifestyle to become their brand, based on social media. Sad.

    I understand what you mean, though, about subconsciously, or even consciously, you can let how many likes affect how you feel about something. I also started spending less time on Facebook, especially around the election here in the states. And I used to be on Twitter, years ago, but am glad I have not gone back as I’ve heard it’s really changed over the years.

    On an unrelated topic (or maybe it is related?) I’m so sorry that the podcast is over for season 3! But can’t wait until you you guys start up again in June. I think this past season has been amazing (as all the others have been) but this one, I think you guys have outdone yourselves with how real you have become.)

  • In February, as the busiest months of my life rolled around (I work part-time and also seasonally as a tax professional during tax season), I took a look at my social media usage and decided to cut back. I slashed my Instagram follows in half, cutting out the many lifestyle pages I followed and leaving only the accounts of actual people. As most of these aren’t even people I know, just someone I randomly became interested in, I also reminded myself that none of them cared if I saw their photos and liked them, and most of them didn’t even look at mine or like them, either, so if I didn’t keep up for days on end, no-one would care.

    On Facebook, I added my mother, brothers, and one or two close friends to the “Close Friends” list so I could see anything they posted first, and then log out, instead of mindlessly scrolling past hundreds of posts to see if they had shared anything.

    I quit a couple of platforms I used to share on, one was my fitness network. Although I kept up with my workouts, having to post my workouts and keep up with others’ became a tedious, time-consuming act that took precious minutes from a schedule that was already full to overflowing.

    I have been a lot less stressed since I did those things. Although I have more time on my hands now that tax season is past, the mindless consumption habit is broken, and I hope to stay in this mode where I check in and check out again and get on with my life.

  • Hi Cait! I have just recently found your blog and I quickly read through the entire thing. I was already on a “no fast-food” ban but after your experiment I’m thinking of doing a shopping ban. It’s amazing how most of us let our compulsion control us. I’m on a journey to take control over myself after seeing the multitude of things that can come from it. Thanks for the great blogs!

  • I’m not big on social media. I have a FB account that I use from time to time but I keep the “friends” to a minimum (50) and my profile is totally private. I am thinking about deleting it. I don’t use Instagram anymore because I use to spend too much time on it. And I’ve never been on Twitter or any other social media that I can think of. I am a dinosaur, aha!! Just not interested. Where I spend too much time online is on blogs and just mindless surfing in general. I’ve realized how much more relaxed I feel when I put the tablet down! Hey, I don’t have cable, I don’t have a smart phone, I barely use social media, and yet I still feel like this is too much, so I can just imagine how people who are perpetually connected feel. It’s depressing, really, this constant need of distraction.

  • Such a tricky thing to figure out. I found I was on social media a little more than I would have liked and I know I will never get fully away from it because I have friends from all over the world that I keep connected through social media and I like seeing the highlights of everybody’s life. I moved all my social media apps to a folder so it’s not quite as quick to open. I’ve never had notifications for it (that would stress me out like crazy) and now I really only open it to share or respond to comments. I love reading blogs, but I just do it in my downtime at work or when the kids are in bed so i’m not taking time away from them. I’m interested to see how your detox went.

  • I’m not a big social media person. I do have an account on Facebook, but it is only to keep in touch with family and friends who do not live near by. I refuse to register for twitter. I see my phone and/or my computer as a tool. As you said in your article, “using technology to improve not detract from.”

  • I deactivated my Fakebook when I started my first semester of law school back in August. I got fakebook back as a good grades gift to myself in december. The break from it made me less dependent on facebook. I check it like twice a day pretty quickly now. I dare not get rid of it again because of all the networking i’ve done w/ law students, professors, and local attorneys. But i no longer have that itch for FB that i used to.

  • I’d known Facebook was not adding value to my life for a while, but kept my personal account open since I manage company pages for work. Earlier this year, it just became too much — friends and family I loved and otherwise had no issues with were sharing content I just couldn’t stand, and it was negatively impacting my perception of them. Since I was transitioning away from social media management at work anyway, I decided to deactivate my account and haven’t looked back. That being said, I find myself spending more and more time on Twitter, and you’re right — the effect is the same. I’ve taken a similar approach in un-following profiles that aren’t adding value, but taking a step back might be a good idea. It’s tough when you want to connect with people professionally and support their goals with shares and engagement.

  • I think there has been a lot said about the advantages of boomers vs millenials lifecircumstances. One thing not mentioned so often is that most boomers don’t tweet, snapchat and the only facebooking they do is related to grandkids. They mostly do text and email but not with the frequency of the current generations. I think while the social media has provided opportunities it has also created anxieties, mental stress and a lack of focus that as much as the economy or any other external forces has contributed to the problems they face. My observation is to the extent that my kids are less happy than me, which I think they are, a chunk of that is due to social media’s impact on their lives.

  • Cait, I really appreciated your views on social media. I can easily feel my energy zapped too when needlessly scrolling Facebook and finding myself annoyed at all the negativity when I’m trying to be a positve vibe in the world. This was a great reminder for me that I have a choice to be on social media and when. I needed to hear this again today.
    Just a quick question: I’d love to just have a profile for my work/mission instead of my personal page. How do you have a presence on Facebook as I see you do, without a personal page? Could I convert many of my personal followers to a new page set up such as yours is?
    Thanks again for this post, which I learned about from Tammy Strobel.

  • I would love to hear more about how you plan to get people to your blog and services. While I’m not keen on social media, I feel like you that it’s a “must” for promoting my blog. I hope your detox went well!