I think I’ve coined a new term. Taking a Face-break. If there was an urban dictionary definition for this it would be:
Face-break – Taking a break from social media sites such as Facebook to remind oneself the world is not all a bad place full of trolls, bad news and that there is more to life than scrolling through someone’s holiday photos.
Now before anyone shouts at me for calling out the holiday photos, that is actually one of my favourite things on Facebook. I love seeing pictures of my friends off having fun, and going to places. However I can literally spend hours looking at Facebook. You know, you log on with a cup of tea, have a scroll and two hours later, you’re still there watching a racoon submerge itself in a bowl of cereal wondering where your life went.
I decided yesterday to take a Face-break, a self imposed 7 day (or more depending on how I feel after 7 days) because I was feeling completely overwhelmed. In terms of social media I tend to be on Facebook the most but I also have a browse on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. That’s a lot of uncurated, unedited stuff coming my way.
Why do I need a Face-break?
There’s two reasons for this
1. It’s really hard no matter how much you check, block and edit your feed to eradicate posts with horrific images, text or trolling. Social media can be an amazing platform for sharing good but it’s also a place that people can hide behind a name (and usually a picture not of their face) and use the absolutely cruelest and foulest ways of interacting as humans.
No matter how we hear that we have to ignore trolls and everyone is entitled to their opinion, there’s a lot of race haters, a lot of bigots, a lot of fat people haters , hell a lot of haters hating a lot of hate out there.
One minute you’re innocently clicking on an image of a plus size woman in a pretty dress to see where she got the dress from and the next you see her being called the C word for being fat and that she’s a bitch and should die? What? I don’t want to see this when I’m winding down from work. I don’t want white supremacists posting propaganda and masquerading it as a cute baby.
Coupled with fake news, and all the awful events of the world: the latest US/Korea stand off, Grenfell, terrorism and it’s like a news channel you’re permanently connected to, filling your brain with fear. I stopped reading newspapers because of all the news negativity and now it’s coming at me in a different form. Hence cold turkey
2. The massive amount of time you can waste on social media when you could be doing other things; you click on the app for a quick scroll and half an hour later your half way down some comments on a chihuahua puppy’s bowel habits (this has actually happened to me in real life!)
You can become so absorbed in images , comments , clicking and scrolling that all your good intentions to do something positive with your time have gone out the window along with your sanity.
A case in point since I started my break on Friday, I’ve automatically gone to log in a few times. My brain reaches for the Facebook app automatically instead of doing something else. I feel a bit lost. My finger has hovered over the Instagram app and I haven’t banned myself from there or other channels because I don’t have the same issues with other social media as with Facebook.
Why is this? I think because my feed is different. I use them differently (to follow mindful and local stuff in the case of Twitter and bloggers and influencers in the case of Instagram) so I don’t have the same kind of stuff coming through, plus I use them less and don’t engage so much.
The benefits of a Face-break
So what do I get for my Face-break?
1. First of all I get reduced anxiety because I don’t get to see all the negative crap going on in the world. You might argue that I should keep up to date with what’s going on. I’d argue my mental health was more important
2. I have more time – I’ve worked out I probably spend about an hour a day on Facebook – maybe two at weekends. That’s 9 hours a week of my life back to do other things
3. I can see the good in people again- people are mostly nicer in person and without seeing troll after troll online I can have hope that we all have the capacity to be kind to others
4. When I do return ( which I will, to run the Mindful Hub Facebook page as well as missing the holiday snaps ) then I will feel refreshed and less jaded by the whole social media thing.
I’m advocating a social media break for all. We used to take a week off on our hols and switch our phones off due to the lack of WI-FI and costs of international roaming. Sadly those halcyon days have gone so we owe it to ourselves to take a break and restore order to our overwhelmed brains.
What do you think? Do you ever take social media breaks? Do you even use social media? Is it a necessary evil or a waste of precious time?