I didn’t know what it was at first, but finding my social network since moving to Los Angeles has been oddly challenging these last seven months. I say oddly because anyone who knows me knows that I am 100% an extroverted social butterfly.
But then it hit me a couple weeks ago. I’m not having a hard time making friends. The problem is that my BFF has become Instagram, therefore social media is making me socially awkward.
The endless hours I spend with my #InstaFriends is leaving no time for making friends in #IRL. Disclaimer: there was of course this friendship I shared with Shape.com a few months ago. But other than that, my friendship roster is leaning a bit too heavy on the side of those that I only know by their @(fill in the blank) name.
So, I unfriended my online BFF and said good-bye to my obsession with Instagram two weeks ago.
Oh, and I appreciate the texts from those of you who have checked on me. But please don’t freak out- nothing is wrong. In fact, all is right!
Here are the ways I’ve been able to reconnect thanks to my social media disconnect. I hope they inspire you to evaluate the space that social media takes up in your life and maybe even take a little hiatus of your own.
1) I’ve “Insta”ntly Reclaimed My Time
Necessary plug for my Auntie Congresswomen Maxine Waters, since I met her for the first time face to face last weekend. Second time voice to voice. About that voice to voice part – I played her in my first main stage college production at Spelman College of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, by Anna Deavere Smith. I had the gall to call her office in order to get her voice and energy down for my performance, and thankfully, she was RAD enough to agree. RAD then and even RADder on Sunday when I reminded her face to face of this moment at the Spelman College Alumnae Scholarship brunch in Long Island.
So when she naturally shared her coined slogan during her honorary award acceptance speech, “I’m reclaiming my time,” I clapped extra hard. I too have reclaimed my time now that my life is sans Instagram. My schedule has opened up in an insane way – I’m no longer racing to meet deadlines, I finally have that “free time” I was craving and my overall life feels less hurried.
2) I’m More Intentional
And since I’m not in a hurry, everything feels more intentional. I had no idea how often I mindlessly opened the app and traveled down a rabbit hole of thumb swipes until I deleted the app from my phone. So what to do now when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store or when I’m at dinner and my dinner date steps away to use the restroom? I just sit, and rest and observe the life that is happening around me, that’s what.
I’m not going to lie, at first all the down time was strange. But after a few days I realized that my need to be on an app and not present was even stranger. In fact, I knew I was “Insta-addicted-free” when my phone stopped working a few days ago and I was full blown sans a cell phone for four days. Of course I was initially afraid I would miss something important, but then, thanks to my Instagram hiatus, I immediately appreciated the deeper level of disconnection. Outside of the Maxine Waters sighting mentioned above, the most exciting part about the weekend was doing and not needing to do absolutely anything.
3) I Was Mistaken – I Do Have Friends In Los Angeles
The final RAD thing that has happened on this hiatus is that I’ve been better able to connect with my #IRL friends. Double tapping on my friend’s highlight reels is fun, but nothing beats hearing, feeling and seeing them face to face.
1) I have more friends in Los Angeles than I originally thought. 2) Their lives are more interesting without photos and double taps.
I love how present I am in our live moments and consequently how richer our time together is. I don’t need to InstaStory our cocktails at happy hour. I’ve had plenty of good hair days that I didn’t need to post to know they were #goodhairdays. And the part that I was really worried about, since my social media is deeply connected to my brand, I’m still able to create RAD Experiences (read: pay these bills).
So, thanks to that last part, I will be back on sooner than later. Just this time I’ll be “connected” in a different way! See you out there Instagram RADicals.
This Instagram break was inspired by (but not sponsored by) my interview with Arianna Huffington for Shape. Check out that story and her Thrive App here.
Have you taken a social media break? How did disconnecting help you reconnect? Tell me below.