ExpatActually

My First Day Without Social Media- What Happened?

December 22, 2020

This is going down in history as one of the most interesting days of my life. Not the worst, not the best, but definitely one of the most interesting. 

I can't even believe I'm writing this...

In short, I felt lost. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. My nerves were shot. I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t eat anything all day except for a few bites at dinner, which I had to choke down. …and then, I felt nauseous.

Guys, we are talking about social media. Not a real person. A house. Or pet. We are talking about a website. But can I just tell you, I felt like I had broken up with someone. I felt like I had thrown away a scrap book of my adult life. I was an original OG. I joined Facebook my spring semester junior year at Clemson University. My first post was a night time pool party at our apartment clubhouse. Man, I was skinny. Haha- don’t we all think that looking back 15 years ago. ...and had spiky hair! Wait, what?? 

Social media truly is a virtual scrapbook. Graduations, engagements, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, baby announcements…heck, being able to document and watch other people’s children grow up. I mean, how cool! …and creepy, at the same time. It’s wild if you really think about it. WILD. 

So, about the day- the first few hours, I spent the majority of the time reassuring people I was okay. Seriously. That my husband and I were fine. I wasn’t leaving him. He wasn’t leaving me. He hadn’t lost his job. We weren’t being kicked out of Germany. Nor, were we moving back to the States. These were only a few of the things I was asked. Mainly people thought I had gone off my rocker. Honestly. And for good reason, I (mostly) understand. Like, what normal sane person would get rid of social media??

love loved social media! I am a super extroverted person who enjoys being connected and staying in the know. I’m not as active on Facebook as I once was, but I was posting daily on Instagram via my Expat Actually account…and 8-12 stories a day. I thoroughly enjoyed the creative outlet it gave me. And in retrospect, I appreciated the positive attention I received. Even though we’ve been abroad for five years, I would get new questions almost daily about random things. I loved helping people. And as a former educator, it thrilled me to shoot a video, document a process, or capture a gorgeous photo for someone who had previously asked about it. “Friends” would regularly tell me how much they loved living vicariously through me. Of course, it was a mighty confidence booster, but it was beating me down at the same time. 

You’ll often hear of the pressures of social media. Pressure to look a certain way, dress or act a certain way. Even if you aren’t the one posting, watch out, because someone else may capture you, your home, or kids in a certain unfavorable angle. And then, BAM, you wake up to it plastered on a social media platform accompanied by random comments or What’s App messages about the happenings from the night before. 

Y’all…that wasn’t even my biggest concern. I’ll get into my reasons for leaving social media next week. It’s all over the board. Some I’m sure have crossed your mind, and some I’m sure you’ve never thought of. 

For the rest of the day, that original “lost” feeling never went away. It only strengthened and deepened. In the following hours of my first day without social media, this happened…

  • My husband and I were talking about a friend from back home but couldn’t remember where they went to college. I thought, “hmmm…I’ll look him up on Facebook real quick.” Nope. Wasn’t available. 
  • I was cooking dinner later and wanted to revert back to a recipe I saved on Instagram. Nope. Wasn’t available.
  • My family was decorating Christmas cookies, and I thought what a CUTE photo op for a story! Nope. Wasn’t available.
  • We went for a walk after dinner, and wouldn’t you know there were TONS of amazing moments I wanted to share with my Expat Actually community. It’s all about showing the outside world about our life in a foreign country, right? My eldest son is learning to read and had stopped to sound out road signs of nearby cities. It was an amazing momma moment, but also expat moment as he had flipped from the southern English dialect to the Bavarian dialect of German. It’s still amazing to me, and I so desperately wanted to share it with my Instagram community. Ahhhh! But alas, nope. Wasn’t available.
  • Since my phone is usually in my pocket, I will undress in the bathroom and place it in the same spot while I’m showering. Only this particular evening, it hit me that I wouldn’t have any missed likes, comments, or messages. By deleting social media, I made the conscious choice of plugging in my phone to charge in a separate room. When I got out of the shower, I didn’t run to see if I had missed anything. And while normally washing my hair, I’m planning content in my head. But that day? Nope. Wasn’t available. I actually took a second to think about what I would be doing with my kids the next day.
  • The month of December, I created an Advent Calendar and had committed to sharing these unique, inspirational graphics with my Expat Actually community on Instagram. Each one had a specific Bible verse for the day and mini-devotional. As I sat down to craft the post (like I had each night after the kids were in bed), it hit me. Nope. Wasn’t available. 

It came crashing down on me like a truckload of bricks… I couldn’t fulfill this activity which brought me so much joy any longer. But did it really? I was staying up until 1am or later- figuring out the right words to compile in the caption, researching the best hashtags to reach the right audience, etc. And then, I also had a daily, Christmas market themed series of posts going on as well. These contained the same metrics but also taking time to choose the right photo, edit in Lightroom, resave and structure in Instagram before posting. I enjoyed it, but it.was.a.lot. 

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But you know what I was able to do? Sit next to my husband and enjoy one of our favorite shows. In fact, we watched a couple of episodes together. We even went to bed at the same time. This NEVER happens! 

  • And when I did decide to go upstairs around 11pm (instead of 1am), I settled under the covers to habitually scroll Facebook, watch Instagram stories, and generally see what everyone had been up to for the day. Nope. Wasn’t available.

I clearly remember thinking, “what else is there to look at on my phone??” I checked the weather for tomorrow. Read the daily verse in my Bible app, checked email, and then put it down all in a matter of ten minutes. I leaned over the side of the bed and picked up an actual book to read. The mornings usually start fresh with my devotional book, so I chose a book I’ve been putting off finishing. And instead of staying awake diving deeper into the black hole of social media for a solid hour (generally around 2am), I read a few pages of my book and could not hold my eyes open for the life of me. I was hard asleep before midnight. What?! 

This never EVER happens. You know why? Because I had been engrossed in social media. Designing stories, crafting engaging copy for posts, finding the best editing tools, while also commenting on my “friends” content as well.

  • And when I went to sleep, the social media attachment wasn’t over… if I got up in the middle of the night, I would typically lie back down phone in hand to see what I had missed from the few hours I was asleep. Not from people here, but from loved ones back home. You know, time difference? Folks back “home” were eating dinner when I decided to close my eyes for the night. I could have missed six hours of “stuff.” WHAT?! Do you realize how ridiculous this all sounds?? But nope. Wasn’t available.
  • Needless to say, the same vicious cycle would start over again in the morning. Reach for the phone, open social media, see what everyone else was doing…FACE PALM. Nope. Wasn’t available.

Guys, this was only the first day. I’m intrigued (and also terrified, if I’m being 100% honest) to see what the coming days and weeks will look like. I haven’t decided when or if I’ll ever get back on social media. But I will tell you this, after I decided I was deleting all my social channels… a wave of relief washed over me in an instant. I deleted (not deactivated but deleted) Facebook first. And when I opened Instagram to do the same, I felt dirty. Seriously. This odd grimy feeling took hold of me when I started clicking stories of friends. I was excited to see what they had been doing the whole 12 hours I had been away from Instagram (🙄), yet I felt yucky on the inside. I immediately closed the app, and I thought to myself I need a minute to come back and properly shut it down as well.

I know all this sounds utterly silly, but I wanted to share it with you. This is real. Real raw human emotion. And I know I’m not alone. This was one day. One 24 hour-ish period without social media. I’m sure I’m missing a few moments, but it’s easy to see my rollercoaster of emotions. It’s a struggle for sure, but one I’m determined to power through. 

I will share next week why I decided to shut it off. To kiss all social platforms goodbye for good. Cold turkey. No deleting apps off my phone and only using my computer. No deactiving my accounts, but hardcore wiping them clean. It was an easy, yet very very difficult decision as well. 

Watch this space next week to see how it unfolds…or reply below to make sure I haven’t completely gone off my rocker 🤪 as I know this will get much harder before it becomes easier.

See ya back on the 29th!

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8 comments on “My First Day Without Social Media- What Happened?”

  1. Oh man Whitney - I swear I was gobbling up every word you wrote. I’m having such a hard time with social media myself - and find it highly alarming that I will literally shut down my career if i shut down Instagram or Facebook.

    1. Hi Nadja! It's tough, right? It would take extra work, but I'm sure there are other ways to promote your beautiful book and upcoming work aside from mainstream social media. Maybe reach out to libraries, school boards, and homeschool co-ops to start. I'm cheering for you!

  2. You are a rock star!! Thank you for your transparency and for being so vulnerable. I love your heart behind this. It is inspiring!

    1. Aww, you're welcome! For sure not an easy road, but it has been incredibly eye-opening. This first week has left me equal parts lost and relaxed all at the same time. Hope you have a positive experience!

  3. I know that had to be a hard thing to do, but you know yourself and your family better than anyone! I’ve thought seriously about getting rid of social media more than once over the years but haven’t ever pulled the trigger. I’m excited to read more and keep up with your family adventures via email! 🙂

    1. Hi Natalie! You're right. Going through the motion of deleting my account was more mentally challenging than I thought it would be, yet making the decision to do it was one of the easiest I've ever experienced. It's a tough one to follow through with, but thank you for being here and joining our journey!

Thoughts? They are welcome here!

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