Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about social media sabbaticals. Then yesterday, I came across an article titled, “Why You Should Take a Media Media Sabbatical” by Paul Jarvis. At first, the concept seemed a little strange to me, but upon giving it some thought, it became clear why so many of us feel the need for a social media vacation.
To put it simply: anytime we do something in excess, sooner or later, there will come a strong urge to completely distance ourselves from that activity.
It’s a swing effect.
When we create an imbalance in our life, we naturally seek a way to bring ourselves back into equilibrium by doing the exact opposite of what created the imbalance in the first place. It is basically going from one extreme to the other in order to eventually arrive at the center.
Traditionally, a “sabbatical” is a break from work (a job) that is usually taken every seven years. It makes perfect sense to take a long break after doing something energetically depleting day-in and day-out (usually excluding weekends) year after year. After all, the primarily activity of most of us who live in the industrialized world is spending 40 to 60 hours every week sitting at a desk in front of a computer, surrounded by four walls (often with no windows), doing something we often hate or couldn’t care less about. That is the reality of the 9–5 culture we live in. In order to maintain our sanity and regain some of the energy that is sucked out of us, we take a few months off to disconnect and recharge.
Now, in this age of technology, social media, for many, has become a trap and an energy vampire. The problem, however, isn’t social media itself but our unhealthy relationship with it.
Many of us have allowed social media to become our life. Every day, we spend hours looking into other people’s lives, comparing ourselves to them, constantly refreshing the screen for new notifications, engaging in never-ending battles and debates, entertaining so-called “haters” or “trolls,” and taking what others (usually total strangers) say to heart. And then, there are those of us who simply spend too much time on social media in general. All of that is what drains our energy leaving us emotionally exhausted and in need of a social media “detox.”
But taking a social media hiatus is only a temporary solution that doesn’t address the root cause of our problem. It is comparable to going on a 30-day fast from food in order to lose weight, just to find ourselves binge eating as soon as day 31 hits and end up regaining all the weight we managed to lose.
I’m not saying that fasting from social media or food isn’t beneficial, because it very much is! My point, however, is that simply taking a break from an unhealthy behavior or habit, only temporarily masks the symptoms of a deeper problem.
The only sustainable and true solution is to create balance in our life by developing a healthy relationship with social media.
Personally, I use social media as a tool to connect with people, wherever in the world they may be, to share my message and for business purposes. I don’t get involved in online battles, spend time on social media trends or digging into other people’s lives, or entertain “haters” or “trolls.” I’ve done my share of that back in high school. Now, time is something I’ve come to dearly value.
Social media, for me, is just a tool (like food, clothes, or a car). It’s a tool that I use for specific purposes (sharing my message, making meaningful connections, and business). I don’t give it power over me which is why it doesn’t negatively impact me in any way.
When we use social media in a skillful way, it becomes a powerful asset. When we allow it to control our life, it becomes a huge liability.