Not Anti-Social

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I gave myself a one month reprieve from social media. Let’s call it restriction. Or social media lite. I promised myself I would visit Facebook only to post for business and not to scroll and share videos. I would post only to Instagram for personal use – maybe a photo or two a day – and I would endeavor to blog on the daily and post from WordPress to Facebook.

How did I do?

  • I blogged every day but five. I wrote every day but 2. Sometimes it’s better not to post than to post crap. My personal standard.
  • I was able to get in and out of Facebook with little conflict, but did get a little sucked in on my birthday.
  • I didn’t post to Instagram as much as I expected, which tells me a lot (we’ll get to that).
  • The cravings went away after about a week.

Here’s what I have observed in that month:

My compulsion to pick up my phone and scroll has more to do with wanting to distract myself from the multitude of conversations competing in my head than with wondering what’s going on in the world. When I am in creative mode, I often wander to the kitchen or back porch or grab my phone to steer my thoughts away from the problem at hand. It usually works and the solution materializes, but using more content isn’t the answer. Instead, when I grab my phone to scroll I lose sight all together of what I was noodling in the first place and I am sucked into the couch never to fully recover creatively.

No one asked me where I was. No one wondered why Allison wasn’t posting sloth videos anymore. This was less troubling than confirming of what I postulated would be the result of my absence. We have lost the ability to wait, to be patient, to allow thoughts, ideas or even people to surface in our minds. We are victims of the media. I know that sounds ominous, but think about it: We respond to what is right in front of us. If my friend Mark posts a ton, I have very specific opinions about him based on what he wants me to believe about him. Also I think about him more than some of my closer friends because he shows up in front of me more often. Do I really care what Mark is doing? Only if he pops up in my feed. I wouldn’t actively seek him out. Conclusion: If it’s in front of us we feel compelled to respond, if it’s not, we don’t think about it at all. This is a problem. This is a loss of critical thinking. I know it’s just a portion of the time we are walking around talking and breathing, but it is reshaping us.

In reference to the above Instagram comment: I didn’t post as often I thought I would. I thought I loved to take photos, to capture moments and magic to share. It felt noble, like I was reminding everyone of the beauty of the world, a force for good in the sea of Chicken Littles. Turns out I’m just as attention hungry as the next guy. Because, overall, there is less engagement on Instagram it is somehow less gratifying. Which led me to just one conclusion: I’m doing it for me. I suppose this shouldn’t be revelatory, but it was informative nonetheless.

I used Facebook differently in my time off. I didn’t scroll and that felt like a win and key, but I did go on other than to post for business. I went to specific friend’s pages to see what they were doing. I know a few pregnant ladies so I checked in to see how they were; a friend was traveling and camping and I knew there would be beautiful photos of the mountains so I spied a few times; and I checked in on family. It all felt reassuring and like the correct use of Facebook for me.

In the time I wasn’t scrolling I was able to maximize my time. I continued to organize and purge my home – a commitment I made to myself at the beginning of the year. I wrote more, as I mentioned, and I had meaningful conversations with friends. Actual talking on the phone – can you imagine?! I spent time at stop lights observing what was around me – mostly people on their cell phones, and I read more actual books.

Now what?

  • I am going to continue to blog often, I’ll keep that everyday goal right in the front of my brain so I can come close.
  • The notifications will remain off on my phone so I am not driven to see who is doing what and who is liking my posts.
  • I will use Facebook as a means to check-in on, and engage with, people I know and love. A scroll here or there for a set period of time perhaps, but not as procrastination from my real work.

Overall I feel I have learned something about myself and about the culture of social media. At least for my generation. It was a worthy experiment and I can see a lot of value in continuing to honor the boundaries I set. It got me focused on writing again so I’m hopeful to get back to those book ideas, perhaps in lieu of blogging a few times a week. Or more. I like my brain on writing.

Now, about texting…




Simpler Times


Day 2 – Social Media Restriction

Like all diets, day two feels easy and doable. We’re wired that way, to find accomplishment in the beginning to keep us focused and strong through the cravings. Sometimes it works.

I am noticing my tendencies, those mindless moments when I reach for my phone. There’s a gap between thoughts or shiny things and I feel the need to be doing something and apparently my phone has the answer.

My phone sleeps in the living room.

Even though I have to walk 20 paces or so to reach it, it happens to be on the way to the coffee pot and starving pets awaiting breakfast, so I  A U T O M A T I C A L Y  check it as I pass by.

I tell myself I’m checking the time. Maybe the weather. But there is clock on my stove bright as day within my line of sight and the weather is right outside my door.

What I’m actually doing is taking my popularity temperature. How many likes or comments did I get on Facebook, Instagram, WordPress? Any texts requiring immediate action only I can perform? Any missed phone calls from people desperate to talk to me?

This is what social media has done to me. This is what media does. Advertising and marketing creates a sense of lack to be filled by a product that will create a sense of worth.

Social media has created the disease and the drug. Like alcohol.

We live in a culture of urgency. If you text me and I don’t respond within minutes I am:

A. So rude.

B. Obviously too good for you

C. Clearly ignoring you (please see A)

This social media urgency is aiding and abetting all the stress we are already under. Much of which is self-inflicted.

When I was a kid (somewhere between the invention of television and the invention of the internet) there were actual phone numbers we could call for the time and the weather. “At the tone the time will be….” Yes, we did have watches and clocks then, but no one was connected to a satellite for the exact time. And the weather could be heard on local news three times a day, not 24/7. Television went off the air at midnight. There. Was. No. Cable.

How did we survive?

What about life before texting? Emailing? The era of the instant response?

Real conversations with emotions and facial expressions took place, well-thought out letters were written and mailed, and we visited people. We got in cars and drove to someone else’s house. Maybe even in another state.

We’ve reduced ourselves to 140 characters. We’ve lost patience with paragraphs containing more than two sentences and articles with more than 5 paragraphs of 2 sentences. Communication used to have a sort of elegance. But that left and took manners and civility with it.

At the risk of sounding like my grandparents: things were simpler in my day. There was an unappreciated clarity that came from running down the street to tell a neighbor or friend something. No context was necessary. Instead of 500 texts to make plans that may never happen, we went outside to see who else was outside. And then we played, or in later years, hung out.

I’m no longer apologizing for waxing nostalgic. It is exactly because of my age and the distance between my youth and today that I can have this perspective.

My grandparents had it. They sold their home in the suburbs of Harrisburg to purchase an 18th Century stone farmhouse, with acreage, a pond, a barn and a spring house. My grandfather raised cattle for a hobby and grandma planted a vegetable garden and collected antiques. He still worked as an engineer for the highway department and she continued to work as a dress designer. They responded to their longing for simpler times in a very real way. They physically removed themselves from convenience to reconnect to something more meaningful. Each other.

Is that what I’m doing? Is putting limitations on my social media usage, thereby my phone usage, akin to moving to the rolling hills of rural Pennsylvania? Perhaps.

Sounds pretty nice to me.




On Restriction

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I am putting myself on restriction, just short of a social media fast. I have promised myself I would take the month of May off from social media. Realizing I use certain streams for my business, I adjusted the terms and conditions of my imaginary contract to grant me limited access to Facebook only for the purposes of promoting events for the yoga studio.

My name is Allison and I am a Facebook video addict. I mean, come on: sloths, otters, motivational up-and-comers, forward thinkers, Ted talks?! And what about all those baby pictures, alpacas, silly chickens and people who need me?

But it has to stop. For now. I find myself losing up to 3 hours a day.

What I could do with those 3 hours! What could I do?

The time wasted in the morning could be spent on my yoga mat or wandering the early morning streets of my neighborhood hunting critters big and small. My mid-morning/early afternoon stretch could be spent writing and my evening hour could be spent in actual conversation or reading something inspirational. Or honestly watching recorded shows with my full attention. Do I even like these shows enough to watch them without distraction? I’ll let you know.

So, May is Blog-a-Day month for me. WordPress is a form of social media, it’s true, but it somehow seems more noble. And I can’t seem to stop myself from snapping photos of magical Florida nature or, full disclosure, my cat (oh my, I’ve become such a cliché) so I will still utilize Instagram.

But neither of these platforms seem to demand as much of my time as the book of face. I will post my blogs to FB in some of the groups I belong to and even my feed on occasion, and I will share my Instagram captures with FB as well. But I will not be drawn in by that tiny red circle glaring at me from the corner of the F square on my phone, declaring how many people love me and are anxiously awaiting my attention and reply.

We’ll see how it goes.

I really, I mean honestly, want to finish writing my book on India. So, some of my found time will be spent jittery and disheveled in the corners of coffee shops nearby. And on days under 90 degrees, perhaps on my back patio, where I will no doubt be distracted by the fauna flitting and skittering about in my back yard.

I also have two houses stuffed into one right now and would love to continue purging and organizing that back to one manageable space. This is the year of the purge for me.

It is day one, but I am hopeful I can create this shift and come June, if I’ve behaved, I may just allow myself access to the wonders of Facebook again.

For now, you can find me on Instagram @allisonswanderland. Or at one of my two blogs: – for stories of nature, travel and talking animals or this one, for musings on all things that make life magical like: minimalism, zero waste, food stuffs and philosophy.

I know I’m assuming you care, it’s okay if you don’t. But I’d love to hear from you in the comments on the blogs or Instagram. Or even Facebook, just don’t expect a response until June 1.