What I Learned From My Break With Social Media

I have returned from my abrupt departure.

As some of you may have read in my final post before leaving the social media machine, I was involved in two separate bomb threats and evacuations at my stepson’s JCC pre-school.

Here’s what happened.

I like to go into the sauna after I work out so I can look more sweaty. That week, I had made it my goal to use that time to meditate. I had gotten through about a minute and a half of an audio recording of mantra meditation when I started getting antsy. I had this nervous feeling demanding my attention. That’s normal while mediating, but I couldn’t move past it like I usually do. So, frustrated with myself, I took out my ear phones and headed out.

As I walked out of the locker room, I saw a mass of people exiting all at once. I assumed it was just an exercise class being let out. But then I noticed a panic on everyone’s faces, and I realized it wasn’t just some people…it was all the people. The entire gym was running out the door. So, I stopped a woman and asked what was going on. She let me know a bomb threat had been called in and everyone was being evacuated.

Before going to the gym, I had dropped my youngest stepson off at the preschool next door. Upon hearing of the bomb threat, I ran to his class only to find the doors locked. No one in, no one out. So, I, along with a few other moms, waited there in front of the door like sitting ducks. No one knew what was going on or how serious/imminent the threat was. Eventually, an administrator opened the door saying, “we don’t know what’s going on, but you can go get your kids and run”. So, I did. I ran down the hall, scooped him up in my arms, and ran back to my car. Still not knowing if or when something might happen. I sped home, picking up his older brother from the nearby public school just in case. I told them school was closed for early release and they were happy to stay home. I spent the day refreshing my newsfeed, desperate to learn more, but almost no one was talking about it. It ended up being a hoax phone call, just like the other hundreds around the country.

Then, the following Tuesday, it happened again. As I dropped him off, another threat got called in and we were put on lock down. They locked us in a classroom and closed all the blinds. God bless the teachers who can act in moments like these. I made a run for it and got out the door with him to my car just before complete lockdown. Again, the “all clear” was announced hours later and normal activities resumed. Another hoax phone call. Another day in the life.

Of course, before these events, I had already been consuming all the scary news stories and feeling all the fear that type of content was intended to incite. But I still never thought it would touch me. Then it did. And all I could think was, if I’m feeling this scared right now in my safe upper class white suburban neighborhood, with its gated communities and private schools and choice of organic food stores and yoga studios, how is everyone else feeling?! Everyone else who isn’t safe and privileged like I am.

So, to recap.

Here I am, simultaneously reading about the active rewind of our nation’s progress, while grieving for all the lives that are being touched by it, while feeling privileged for not being touched by it, while envying the beautiful & perfect lives of the people I follow online, while living my own beautiful & perfect life (see: my wedding + honeymoon), while experiencing two bomb threats back to back.

It just didn’t add up. And my brain, it seems, short circuited in its effort to try and make sense of it all. That short circuiting manifested as depression.

I’ve spoken about my depression a bit, and I still have a lot to sort out. But, what I do know is that this time I could recognize it and identify it a lot sooner. I found myself incapacitated, sucked dry of any motivation. All I could bring myself to do was sit on the couch. And when I wasn’t staring blankly out the window, I was scrolling through my phone. Hours spent arbitrarily consuming content, both terrifying and glamorous. I just kept feeling more sick and more isolated the more content I consumed.

Eventually I recognized that it wasn’t making me feel good. I couldn’t place it, but I just knew that scrolling through my phone wasn’t helping. In fact, it was doing the exact opposite. So, I signed off in an effort to try and feel better. And since I’ve been off, I have made some pretty powerful assessments that I’d like to share with you.

Here’s what I’ve been able to figure out, so far.

I had found myself dangling between two starkly contrasting realities that I was attempting to participate in. The one I wished were fake (current state of affairs) and the one I knew the be fake (social media). But neither of them are real. Neither of them have anything to do with me and my life and my experience and my existence.

And then I realized, I haven’t been participating in my own existence as a person here on earth and instead have traded it in to play a part in these elaborate alternate realities.

What the fuck?

And then I started thinking, I can’t be the only one doing this. We must be all doing this, collectively. And, with that thought, we must all be collectively really fucking depressed.

Because the contrast between real life and online portrayals of life has become despairingly divided. So much so, that its becoming almost impossible to have a relationship with either one. The contrast is so confounded, we are all stuck in the space between the two deciding which one to reach toward. The one we know is fake or the one we wish were fake.

And while we’re debating over the two, real life is happening without us. Like, real life. Our life. Day-to-day life. And that is a damn shame. And a waste of time.

Okay, thanks for bumming us all out. But now what?!

Imagine what we could be doing with that time! We’ve become too comfortable existing within that contrast. We need to take back our time and decide for ourselves how we want to spend it, because right now we’re spending our time arguing about out which is the right way instead of finding our own way.

So, that’s what I intend to do. Find my own way. I need to find my own equilibrium between that which is me and that which is outside of me, between that which I can control and that which I can’t. We can’t achieve a collective balance until we each individually achieve our own.

I’m turning myself into a guinea pig of sorts. I’m on a quest to figure out what actually makes me feel good, because I’ve completely lost touch with it. And I have a feeling that I’m not alone here. But so many of you don’t have the time and space to trial and error your way to happiness. So, [spoiler alert], I will be launching a new project soon dedicated to this effort. I like to think of it as a data base for my research, where I’ll share my findings about what’s worked and what hasn’t.

And the truth is, I’m scared shitless. Because I am a total control freak. I find comfort in pretending like I have all the answers and fooling myself into believing I have any control over what’s going to happen. So, I plan on making myself very uncomfortable through this process. Facing my fear of uncertainty in an effort to figure out how to make the most of my time here and live it on my own terms.

Join me as I dive in to the uncertain future and build my parachute as I fall.

And if you’d like to hear what the inside of my brain sounds like before I write a post to share with you…press play. My phone is full of random voice memos like this where I talk to myself and try to gather my thoughts before I can actually get the words down. Usually, I can catch the ideas as they fly into my brain and jot them down on paper before they disappear. Other times, I just need to speak them out before I lose them. Here’s an example ↓



2 thoughts on “What I Learned From My Break With Social Media

  1. Grace

    Great post Loey! It’s crazy how you’ve pretty much penned my thoughts. Wishing you a challenging, but rewarding experience.

    • Lauren Ellman

      Thank you so much! So happy this resonated with you. If you have any ideas of topics I can explore with this blog, please let me know 🙂

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