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December 17, 2015

Social Media Detox: 70 Days to Restore Creative Thinking

It's been almost two years exactly since my last social media hiatus. I'm not proud to say that since then I've fallen back into old habits and have allowed distractions of all kinds to creep back in and derail my efforts of living true to myself and following my passions.

I've decided to take action and not let the constant onslaught of news feeds steer me away from my path any longer.

Similar to Dr. Tall's Social Media Diet, I'm currently putting myself through a social media detox. Consider it an information rehab, if you will. I'm leaving old habits behind.

(If you're reading this from a Facebook or Twitter link, thank the magic of RSS feeds.)

Just like rehab, I'm sticking it out for ten weeks--seventy whole days--without looking for likes, comments, or new followers. This is my cold-turkey attempt to deepen my thinking, expand my creativity, deprogram myself of the app habit, and (most importantly) to spend more time on the things that matter to me most.

Let's take a look at the word rehab (or rehabilitate if you want to get specific for a second. Why does the mention of it conjure up so many negative stereotypes? The word itself is very much a positive thing. Its definition, according to Merriam-Webster, is "to restore or bring to a condition of health or useful and constructive activity."

See? Good stuff.

No, I don't think that social media is inherently evil. No, I don't think that social media was created by the Illuminati to separate the weak from the strong. No, I don't think that we're all cattle being led to the slaughter by billionaire corporate entities that pummel us with advertisements and images of the Photoshop-enhanced. (Okay, maybe a little bit of that last one...)

What I do think is that we're losing connection with our communities, those humans we could be interacting with face-to-face each day. In fact, I think that in many situations social media is replacing human to human communication with digital dummies of ourselves who hide behind masks of perceived anonymity.

What could be worse than a lack of communication? How about the idea that we're not daydreaming. We're not creating. We're only filling "empty" time by checking our phones and tablets and other digital pacifiers for some new bite of spoon-fed entertainment or a thumbs-up of approval.

I feel like our constant attachment to social media is causing us to lose the spark that makes each of us three-dimensional. Some people may call that spark our spirit. Maybe our driving force. Ingenuity.

As many popular 12-step programs teach, I understand that the only thing in any situation that I can control is myself. If status updates, shared images, and tweets are evoking internal responses or emotions that I don't like, I can do something.

You can control only yourself.

You can take a deep breath and step away.

That's what I'm doing--taking that much-needed deep breath and focusing on the positive. I'm paying attention to what makes me happy. I'm taking the next sixty-four days (because I've logged six already and I'm not turning back now) to put my mind and my life in order.

I'm restoring myself to a condition of health or useful and constructive activity.

How do you think seventy days away from social media would change your quality of life? Would it be a positive or negative change? If you think it would be positive, what are the obstacles you feel are holding you back from taking that step?

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