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My Social Media Detox

By Melanie Klein--I like social media. A lot. In fact, I like social media so much that I am giving up my two favorite social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, for an entire month starting August 5th.

Yep, I'm serious. I won't post a status update or share a filtered selfie until September 5th, significantly lowering my levels of mediation for a full 31 days.

Many years ago, before social media became my go-to fix, television offered the kind of mind-numbing entertainment I craved after hours of studying in the university library. And when I cut my cable and stopped watching, I noticed a positive change in my relationship with my body within a matter of months. I still read the occasional tabloid (and chalked it up to sociological research - it's true!), fed my hunger for romantic comedies and continued to be exposed to the glut of advertising that met my eyes when I drove through Los Angeles or walked through the check-out line at the grocery store. But that one change was significant enough to make a tangible and unexpected difference.

That was in 1997. After going without television for twelve years, with a certain sense of guilt and hesitation, I had my cable re-installed after the birth of my first son. And within a few months, I found myself watching "guilty-pleasure" reality shows like "Dancing with the Stars" and the sexist and racist train wreck that is the "Bachelor/ette" franchise. I also found less cringe-inducing shows that reminded me why I had always liked television in the first place. Of course as a media literate professor, I could rationalize my media consumption. I felt the amount I was watching was harmless and necessary (remember, it's for research!).

But then my partner bought me my first iPhone for my birthday a few years ago. And within days of ditching my Blackberry, my levels of mediation skyrocketed. I had already been on Facebook and Twitter for years, but now I could now access my Twitter account, personal Facebook page and the five public Facebook pages I run in the palm of my hand! And I found myself checking them from anywhere and everywhere, including the toilet! And then I discovered Instagram! As a result, my time offline and disconneted from social media is now few and far between. 

Lately - for the past year, really - I feel I am in over my head, a slave to the beast that is social media, addicted and distracted with little time to think and just be - unable to be completely present and engaged in my life and my relationships (you know, with the people I actually see on the regular). And I don't consider social media my life, although it has come to take up more and more of it. 

It's one thing to think back to those quaint days of my childhood before we even had call waiting and voice mail, or my teen years before we had cell phones and the internet. But it's another to think back to just a few years ago when my iPhone wasn't my 5th appendage and I didn't roll over in bed first thing after waking in the morning to check my feed or my inbox.

For a year, I have planned on a digital detox of sorts but the perfect time has never presented itself. Then I realized my own fear of 'missing something' - but what I was afraid to miss? A direct message or comment? A 'like' or new follow? Someone's selfie?

After my friend took an entire week off from all forms of mediation and connection, from calls and texts to tweets and status updates, I was reinspired (and jealous of her time off), but still stayed plugged in. When could I completely cut myself off like that? It seemed impossible. It probably isn't impossible, but I decided that in taking up this challenge with myself and providing myself with some much-needed time away from the world of social media, I was going to find a happy medium - something that seemed feasible yet potent.

So starting tomorrow, I am not going to log in to Facebook or Instagram for 31 days. I am going to limit other forms of conscious mediation (meaning the media I choose to view or interact with as opposed to the media I am involuntarily exposed to such a billboards) and I am going to log that as well as journal about my experiences. I won't be completely offline, but I'm pretty confident that this major adjustment to my social media consumption will give me some new insights. On September 5th I will share what I got out of this experience. Check back for Part Two!

Related: How Does Social Media Affect Your Body Image


Melanie Klein, M.A., is a writer, speaker and professor of Sociology and Women's Studies specializing in society and culture, media literacy, body image and women's history. She is a contributing author in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice and is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery + Loving Your Body, and co-founder of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition.

Image courtesy of bplanet / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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