Time to cross off my first goal on my 28 before 28 list!
#16. Take a week break from TV/Netflix and social media.
One week. 168 hours. Unplugged. What did I do?
This one has been on my list for 2 years now. Two. Freaking. Years. I had it on my 26 before 26 list and on my 27 before 27 list. Somehow, I never crossed it off. Why? This is not a hard one. It doesn’t take weeks of planning or lots of money or require leaving the country. Yet here it is on my list for a third year in a row. I decided to start my 28 before 28 list off strong by getting Number 16 off the list during my first week after turning 27. I decided to unplug from Facebook, Pinterest, Netflix, and TV. I didn’t include “no movies” on this goal as I don’t really watch that many movies to begin with – my Netflix/TV obsessions are always a series. I have other social media like Snapchat, Instagram, and Linked In, but I spend hardly any time on them. This past week, I didn’t login to Instagram or Linked In at all. I opened a couple snapchats and sent a total of one this whole week.
But first, why is this even on my bucket list? Why did I think this was important to accomplish? The sad truth is – the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve started spending a lot of time doing nothing. Facebook, Pinterest, and Netflix are my favorite places to do nothing. I guess I am just not satisfied with that – I don’t want to be the person that would rather stare at a screen instead of actually doing something..reading something…writing something…learning something. And yet, here I am being exactly that person. One more episode turns into the whole afternoon. I find myself checking Facebook when I pull up to a stoplight. Ridiculous.
I was never a “screen kid” growing up. I didn’t play video games. I barely watched TV. I was too busy living. I was outside playing imaginary games, I was reading books, I was exploring the country with my four-legged best friend Lady (aka the best dog ever), I was climbing the tallest trees (sorry mom and dad), I was sliding down the barn roof with my friend Andy (again, sorry mom and dad). My childhood was full of adventure and I can’t help but feel that the kid I was would be disappointed with the boring old adult I can often be. Why is it that the older I get, the more time I spend staring at screens? I can’t figure it out.
I think the weirdest thing I noticed during this experiment was that sometimes something would happen and I would automatically think of it as a status update. Sitting by the fire with coffee, a cat, and a book = perfection; Best part of working at a school is having a Christmas break – loving this time off!; Enjoying the Plaza lights <insert selfie with spouse here>.
I was surprised by how easy this goal turned out to be. There were definitely several moments when I wanted to check Facebook or turn on Netflix, but then the feeling would pass. I honestly didn’t miss Pinterest this week.
How could it be so easy to stop doing things for a week that usually fill so much of my time? Perhaps I am not as addicted as I thought I was. Maybe it is just habit to check Facebook or scroll through Pinterest or to click next episode on Netflix.
Day 1: Sunday, December 27
The first day was the hardest to not check Facebook. In anticipation of this, I moved the Facebook app and Pinterest app on my phone off the front page, and it has become a reflex to just click on it. A few times, I found myself opening up the folder that Facebook is usually kept it, before remembering, oh wait… I spent a lot of time reading today. K made a fire in the woodstove in the library. He worked on a puzzle while I read. It was cozy and peaceful. I also did some blogging, thrift shopping, and stopped by my work to feed a stray kitten I’m trying to tame. I did some yoga before bed.
Day 2:Monday, December 28
Today was easier. It was nice to wake up in the morning and not immediately grab my phone to check Facebook. I drank my coffee and read a book. I finished my book and started on a second one today. In the afternoon, I checked off several things that have been sitting on my to-do list for months, which was a nice feeling. I did some blogging and also some yoga. I went to bed feeling good.
Day 3: Tuesday, December 29
I did some more reading today (already moved on to book #3 for the week). I also did some free writing. K and I decided to go see a movie at the theater today. We saw The Big Short. It was not a typical movie I would choose to see, but I actually ended up liking it a lot. We also stopped by the Plaza to walk around and see the Christmas lights.
Day 4: Wednesday, December 30
Today we ran some errands. I did some more reading (a biography about my favorite author, L.M. Montgomery) and did some more free writing. We watched a New Zealand movie that has been sitting unwatched on our shelf for a few years (Whale Rider). It was so good, actually. I don’t know why we never watched it before.
Day 5: Thursday, December 31
I finished my third book for the week. I did some travel planning and daydreaming about going to Prince Edward Island to see the L.M. Montgomery historic sites. Discussed with K when we can make this trip happen (possibly this year!). I feel such a connection to this author. There are so many lines that she writes where I have that feeling of being understood…that yes, this, exactly feeling. It would seriously be a dream come true to stand where she has stood, to see with my own eyes the places that she wrote about. Her writing inspires and thrills me unlike any other author I’ve ever read. Alright, ending my tangent now… K and I went out to dinner and then brought in the New Year with friends at their house.
Day 6: Friday, January 1
I started and finished book #4 today. I started book #5. I did some yoga. We FaceTimed with K’s family.
Day 7: Saturday, January 2
Day 7 – I made it. Today, I was inspired to start writing a story. I wrote for several hours…ended up with 11 typed pages. I finished book #5 today. Went for a walk at the park with K. Went back and did some editing of my story.
So how can I take what I’ve learned this week and apply it going forward? My goal is not to quit Facebook, Pinterest, and Netflix. I think all three can be great in moderation. I love staying in touch with family and friends on Facebook. I find a lot of cool ideas on Pinterest. Netflix can be a great way to relax and unwind (who doesn’t love watching a great show and discussing it later with friends?) No, I don’t want to say goodbye to these three…I just want to say hello a little less frequently.
Out of Sight
One way I’ve decided to do this is to delete the Pinterest app on my phone. I don’t need to be able to pin from anywhere. I’ve also decided to keep the Facebook app off the front page of my phone. I decided not to delete it as I still want to be able to upload a photo to Facebook from my phone, but hopefully having it out of sight will help me use it less.
Another way I plan to keep my momentum going is to unplug at least one day every week. 168 hours was easy so I know I can stick with 24 hours of no social media/Netflix each week. I think that Sundays will be my unplugged day going forward.
What about you? Do you feel like you waste too much time on social media or watching TV? Do you ever feel like you get sucked into your screen and you end up missing out on the present moment? Do you ever unplug from your screens?