Last Friday I left social media. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write – and before I even reach the full stop the doubts crowd in. ‘You’re weak – you’ll be back within a month.’ ‘You’ve shot yourself in the foot – your career as a writer is over.’ ‘There’s so much good stuff on Facebook – just re-activate your account, you could handle it!’
There is lots of good stuff there. I love maintaining connections with hundreds of diverse people, finding out about local food markets and receiving appreciation for my writing. And, my experience shows me that I can’t handle it. I get caught again and again by the Endless Scroll, the Refresh for New Notifications, and the Poking My Nose Into Stranger’s Lives.
One of the things that held me back from leaving for so long is that I was terrified of becoming a nobody. Young parts of me hold experiences of needing to work really hard to receive attention, and so I believed that unless I ploughed energy and effort into remaining visible in the world, I would completely disappear from people’s minds. Social media is a perfect antidote for this fear – each post becomes a receptacle of ‘likes’, even if only a few. This reassured these needy young parts that they would be loved and looked after, until the effects wore quickly off. Red notifications are like sugar to me – they leave me jittery and fractured, and wanting more.
Shortly before leaving I did some work in therapy which healed these young parts. These parts of me showed me how awful it was for them to feel so unworthy, and I saw and understood. They realised that their having to strive and sweat to get attention was never about me in the first place. They saw that my friends offer me kind texts and home-baked scones not because they’re impressed by who I am or what I give them, but simply because they like me.
There is an enormous sense of freedom in seeing this. I can relax into trusting that some of my connections with people will fade away, and that others will emerge from unlikely places. I can place my attention back onto those closer to me, and onto the dear Earth who supports my every breath. I can trust that, if it’s meant to be, people will find me. I can enjoy the benefits of being a nobody – not having to pause to document my life for the upkeep of my public image, and spending less time online and more time on-earth. I can feel loved without the red notifications.
Of course, I’m not quite fully enlightened. The freed up energy will mostly be redistributed into other favourite compulsions – watching Ru Paul on Netflix, napping, eating caramel brownies. I still want people to read my writing. Maybe I will choose to go back onto Facebook one day, and maybe I’ll fall into the same traps all over again. Nevertheless, I’m glad to be social-media free today. I’m grateful to be released from the work of being popular. I’m happy to receive the spaciousness of this fresh morning, with time to write and time to wash up and time to walk the dogs. I’m sending love out with these words, just because this morning I have some spare. Go gently <3