Getting Your Life Back From Social Media
It was one of those days when I needed to rethink how I was approaching life with my older kids, as my current approach to parenting was in need of a major fine-tune. So what has that got to do with my topic of a social media? Simply that I needed to avoid social networks so I could focus on my family.
Some might think it is too drastic to avoid social networks for various reasons, but since I have been detoxing from social media and went completely off Facebook, I must say, it's been awesome! I was never a big Facebook fan to begin, though I did enjoy reading the inspirational quotes, spiritual statuses, and news that kept me updated on current events. Then too, I had to maintain the Muslimommy fan page so there really was no way to avoid it.
The main reason I left Facebook, was when I noticed that it had not brought much good into my life - instead, it brought me more anxiety and stress. I didn't wake up one day and decide to leave, it just happened when I was trying to set aside time to focus on some pressing matters. While I was away from it, I discovered how much I didn't need it in my life. Look, I am not writing this post to convince you to leave social networks or tell you what a time-waster social media is, but I wanted to share with you how it has helped me to focus better on my "real life" by focusing less on my "cyber' life." Here are my realizations:
1. I felt that my intended search did not come close to the resulted outcome
In the past, I convinced myself I was going to "miss out" on what's hot and what's not. That it was my way of learning about current events and that I needed the "break" from the strain of kids and my responsibilities. What I found was that it took more of my time and that I did not have it under control. Say you start at the point of looking up a simple pasta recipe, after clicking link, upon link, upon link, you end up on Pinterest pinning a "no-sew girls skirt made of tulle" that you don't end up making! Or say you want to quickly check what's new on your feed, but end up clicking link, upon link, upon link, till you don't know how you got where you are, and you try to go back to where you were, but your feed was updated and you can't find your same spot. The five minutes of looking quick became an hour you didn't plan on looking long.
2. I felt that my time had less barakah when I was online too much
I used to go online a lot for homeschool, blogging, Deen info, and tips to make life easier. I would take advantage of the social network pages and groups that I thought were going to advise me on ways to do what I do better. But how much of that knowledge did I actually use? I analyzed what I was going online to search and saw if what I absorbed was going to be used effectively in my day. Unfortunately, it wasn't as high as I thought and I was using a lot more time finding solutions, than actually implementing those solutions in my life. It seemed like I was always grasping for time and fell behind on my tasks.
3. I felt the need to de-stress from my responsibilities yet I didn't really feel less stressed
I would feel that I had earned the right to go online after a hard few hours with the kids and my chores. I felt that I needed the breather to say hi to a friend on Facebook or post something funny or inspirational to keep the flow. But then I noticed that once I went offline, I didn't feel de-stressed or relaxed. Instead, I was left feeling anxious from all the news and confused as I took a few moments to think where I had left off and what I still needed to do.
4. I felt that I didn't need to know what was going on all the time
The need for information and knowledge is a human need we all want, but deciphering the nonsensical info from the helpful info is the challenge we face. Without a doubt, I felt that I was getting a lot of information online, but I had to sift through all this information to find what really helped to improve my life. There were times that I got extreme information overload and ended up feeling more confused, and then not doing anything at all!
5. I felt that I got too distracted and lost my sense of focus
When you feel compelled to check your smartphone whenever you want and think that you need to be updated on everything all the time, you are left with no time to actually think and contemplate in peace. This ends up making you feel a lack of focus. That's why I felt that I wasn't able to concentrate on anything very well because I was constantly being side-tracked and distracted by notifications and beeps coming from my phone.
6. I felt that I got disappointed with some of my family and friend's antics
In Islam we are not supposed to expose our sin and bad deeds. So you wonder why you end up feeling disappointed or sad when you see someone you look up to dressing or acting inappropriately on her profile page. No matter how tolerant you are, you can't help your feelings or forget what you saw. I noticed that I had a better perception of my friends and family when I didn't see their dirty laundry aired online, or when they had a weak moment and vented words that were best left unsaid.
7. I felt that I was less grateful with my family, home and life
Women have the tendency to compare themselves, it's one of our weaknesses (nafs). We'll notice another woman's privileges and compare it to our lives and feel short changed. So you can imagine how difficult it is when you're having a bad day and you see someone you know boasting online about the very thing you're struggle with. It's human to feel a pang of envy and feel disgruntled at your life. Unless your imaan is strong and you know to say alhumdulillah for that person and your life, no good will come to you or the one boasting. I noticed I was more grateful for my husband, kids and home when I didn't have too much to compare with. Social media is deceptive as people only share the bits and pieces of their lives that they choose.
These seven points may hit a nerve with some, and to others, it may not yet be realized. However, I can honestly say that setting a limit on my social media has improved my life for the better. It's brought back my focus to what's important and what can wait. This new wholesome approach is hard to explain, until you reach a point of realization and see how more fulfilling your life feels without the dependency of social media at your fingertips.
Like I said, I'm not prompting you to take extreme measures. I believe in choosing a balanced approach to life, just as we encouraged to do in Islam. Social media is part of society and can bring much good, but the key is control. YOU must control IT and not allow IT to control YOU. When we stop using social media to fill a void or waste precious time, and use it responsibly at the right time and place, then we are free to reap its benefits. Here are a few ways I've learned to get the upper hand on my web and social media usage:
Remove social media apps from your smartphone if you feel you are too dependent on it.
Unsubscribe from everyone's notifications and only receive the nearest and dearest ones.
Choose one or two social media sites that you like the best and stick to it, instead of going on all and trying to keep up.
Make the intention to go online for a purpose and then stick to that purpose at all costs.
Realize why you are going online before you click and ask yourself if it's really necessary.
Set a mental timer for how long you will go online and then stick to that time no matter what.
Weigh the pros and cons of what you do online and realize the impact it has on your family and life as a whole.
Set specific times to go online and only go at those times to maintain your control of social media.
Remove the notification sounds from your computer or phone and check social media at assigned times instead of every time it beeps.
Realize that you are not missing anything important, because any major news will eventually get to you from someone or somehow.
Be honest and ask yourself if what you do online is pleasing to Allah and if you are impacting yourself or others positively.
I pray InshAllah that these tips help you analyze your online habits and make you think about the control you have on your social media activity, just like it did for me. If there was no truth to what I am saying, then there would be no articles like these circulating the internet, and these are just a few of them.
Remember, life is too short to be frivolously wasted so let's make dua and ask Allah SWT to guide us towards that which is beneficial, ameen. I leave you with a reminder from our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH,
“There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time for doing good.” (Bukhari 8/421).
Allah's Apostle SAW also said,
"Allah said, ‘The offspring of Adam abuse the Dahr (Time), and I am the Dahr; in My Hands are the night and the day!’" (Bukhari 8/200)