Don’t Quit Social Media for the Wrong Reasons — Stay for the Right Ones

2 Feb

The focus of my major project for EC&I 832 is digital health and wellness, and one of the things I intend to do is investigate and reflect on my own personal digital well-being. I came across this article on Twitter, which offers 3 ‘resolutions’ – which are more like practical ideas/tips for optimizing your digital health – staying organized, communicating purposefully, and remaining authentic. My original intent for this blog post was to explore these ideas and reflect on how I am currently doing and in these areas, and also ponder how I could improve. (That was derailed when I began writing… stay tuned I still intend to write that post!)

Before the article gets into explaining the 3 resolutions, it addresses an idea – and now I am thinking perhaps a misconception –  that I have held for a few years now about improving my digital well-being. Deleting social media, leaving your devices away, or as the article calls it “quitting cold turkey” has always been my go-to in the past. When I feel like I am endlessly scrolling, monopolizing valuable time I could be spent doing other things, and especially feeling down from comparing myself to the #fitgirls or seeing all the cute couple posts, the obvious answer (I thought) was to delete my social media.

Now, I am not as intense as others out there– I do love Facebook and Instagram for so many reasons and enjoy using them to connect and share with my friends and family — so actually deleting my accounts is off the table. What I have done is taken a “social media break” and deleted the apps from my phone, and thus essentially not allowed myself to go on them for specific time periods. Of course this wasn’t done without posting a clever status about “disconnecting to reconnect” or leaving a carefully planned “candid” photo, letting everyone know I would be offline for a while. But the more I read and explore this topic of digital health, the more I realize that my connection to social media isn’t broken through taking this break, and neither am I more connected to my “real” life.


Road between Monteverde and La Fortuna in the Cloud Forest in Costa Rica. So candid right?!

“The IRL Fetish” by Nathan Jurgenson, and his idea of “digital dualism” attests to this. We are never really offline. The more we fantasize, obsess, or even boast about spending time offline or disconnected to our devices actually fuels our online activity. I have backpacked through 12 countries, and have had the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful views in the world (seriously) with my own two, real life, eyes.


Wolfgangsee, Austria. These colors… wow.

But while I have been losing my breath from the beauty around me, experiencing a completely different culture, or having a beer in a pub across the ocean with strangers who are becoming lifelong friends, I have been so excited to share that online. My thoughts have gone to wondering when I would get wifi next, so I could post the picture, share the status, or even make the friendship Facebook official – and I wanted my friends and family to be a part of that, even if that meant online.


John Lennon wall in Prague, Czech Repbulic. My sister is the biggest Beatles fan – couldn’t wait to show her!

“We may never fully log off, but this in no way implies the loss of the face-to-face, the slow, the analog, the deep introspection, the long walks, or the subtle appreciation of life sans screen. We enjoy all of this more than ever before” –Jurgenson

Even though I may share – or sometimes over-share – on my vacations, or from other special moments in my life through pictures or posts on social media, I don’t feel like I am enjoying those moments any less. In fact, I am often disappointed that a picture cannot truly capture the moment I want my friends and family to also be able to experience, since they cannot be with me. Spending ridiculous amounts of time (hours?) trying to get the perfect filter (Valenica, obviously), level of contrast, or crop for the best angle is something that becomes an issue of wanting to portray perfection vs. share a moment. Being mindful of this is important – you can’t share what’s not there.

chasing waterfalls

Montezuma, Costa Rica. The water was really that brown. But if you could hear the amazing sounds of the water crashing and feel the mist…

I do think it is really important to be cognizant about how you feel after you post or share. If you are feeling disappointed because you only get __# of likes, or a specific person doesn’t like it (you were maybe posting that for them to specifically see, and that is a whole other issue to explore), than your digital well-being is at risk, and maybe not as optimal as it could be. If  you are constantly deleting/re-adding posts, or changing your captions because you are worried they don’t make you look popular enough/cool enough because you don’t get the initial reaction/’hype’ you wanted, than I also feel like that is a a sign of some potentially unhealthy digital behavior.

I have caught myself exhibiting these behaviors before, and I know they have led me to feel negatively about not only myself, but also social media. Being aware of my actions, reactions, and attitudes towards what I am sharing and who/what I am following has been a really important step towards building a healthy relationship with social media for me, and ultimately a step towards optimizing my digital health. I was actually considering starting 2018 with deleting my social media apps, and I am so happy that I didn’t, and that I have embarked on this journey to improve my digital wellness. I already have found myself feeling an improved sense of control, enjoyment, and understanding of my digital health, and I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you!

look up

The perfect picture to symbolize starting a journey. In Ban Pok, just outside Chiang Mai, Thailand





4 Responses to “Don’t Quit Social Media for the Wrong Reasons — Stay for the Right Ones”

  1. jjwlock February 2, 2018 at 4:12 am #

    Katie, this post basically summed up all of my thoughts and feelings regarding social media use. I reached a point before Christmas where social media was only bringing me down, both mentally and emotionally. I felt like the only option I had was to “take a break” from it. However, you have outlined some of the real problems that need to be addressed, and “running away” isn’t going to solve any of them. Thanks for helping me gain some perspective!

  2. Krisanne February 2, 2018 at 12:30 pm #

    Love this post! I think you hit it right on. Deleting social media isn’t the fix all solution (especially with the announcements of leaving ) but changing the way we view social media and measure our happiness in comparison. Looking forward to continuing to read how you focus on your digital wellness. Good luck!

  3. jessicacrippsblog February 2, 2018 at 6:39 pm #

    Katie, I completely agree with you in regard to the points you make in this post. It was a reality check for me to think about how I am never really “offline” and I’m in that “what’s next” stage. I can empathize with travelling and wanting to share with people what I’ve seen and not being able to do it any justice whatsoever. The title of your blog was intriguing because it’s true, we need to think about why we are connected and when we need to disconnect.

  4. Brooke February 3, 2018 at 3:17 pm #

    Many important thoughts about staying for the right reasons. I really like your thoughts about how you can’t share what’s not there —so true. Thank you for the insightful post. I can definitely relate to what you are thinking about here.

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