The Power of Unplugged Holidays

One of the most popular posts of 2018 here on the blog has been the one I’ve written back in March, The Power of Unplugged Weekends, where I shared my experience with staying away from social media during the weekend and how it was positively affecting my life.

I’m proud to report that I managed to keep this habit throughout the whole year and that it inspired me to return to where it all started: Christmas. In fact, the first experiment started on Christmas Eve 2017 and, for the first time ever, I managed to stay away from social media for 3 days straight. It allowed me to enjoy the Holidays with a new perspective (savouring the moment versus trying to keep up with my feed while celebrating with close friends and family. Pathetic, I know). After the positive experience, I decided to carve out some regular unplugged time during the weekends for the whole year and finish 2018 with a couple of weeks completely off.

I’ve shared my last Instagram post on December 22nd and then I’ve logged out and deleted the social media apps on my phone. It’s been such a relaxing time, but it also made me realize a couple of things so I decided to share them here listing all my considerations.

What I’ve learned

  • My time using the phone has definitely decreased, I often managed to do “normal” stuff like cooking dinner or cleaning the house without feeling the need to check my phone (that was usually upstairs on my desk).
  • I’ve watched lots of Christmas movies without checking my Twitter and Instagram feeds, meaning that I’ve truly watched them without multitasking, something I tend to do a lot and that I’d like to change.
  • I didn’t stress about taking social media worthy photos and I’ve taken tons of crappy ones but I love them because they remind me of special moments. Real life is rarely instagrammable and that’s okay.
  • Staying away from social media made me realize that most of my close online friends don’t blog anymore and I missed them a lot because Instagram is basically the only way we interact. This is a very important aspect for me because it’s basically the only reason why I was looking forward to coming back online.
  • Life without scrolling is easier. My mind was clearer and didn’t feel constantly bombarded by tons of thoughts and ideas and things to do or check out. It’s a bit weird to share this, but I was able to think better without that constant buzz.
  • Staying away from social media not only cleared my mind, but it also inspired me to write again on the blog. I even noticed that my last post still received many comments even if I didn’t share it on Instagram.
  • Consuming less social media content allowed me to consume more of other kinds of media such as books and movies. I don’t remember when was the last time I’ve enjoyed so many long-form contents! My life has been basically made of snippets lately: short videos on YouTube, Instagram Stories, Instagram photos with short captions, tweets, and so on. And even if I didn’t consume multi-awarded movies or blockbusters (mostly Hallmark Christmas movies), I still feel like the quality of the content was higher.

My plans for the future

I’m incredibly happy I took the courage to unplug for so many days during the holidays, I’ve learned a lot and it allowed me to think about the approach I’d like to take form now on.

  • First of all, I’m not going to reinstall the Twitter app on my phone and I’ll keep managing it from my laptop. This prevents me from mindless scrolling wasting my time (and my nerve cells!). Unfortunately, I can’t do the same with Instagram since the web version of it lacks many features.
  • I’m going to mute many accounts on Instagram to be sure to receive updates only from the ones I really care about. I will also unfollow someone even if I’m always afraid to look rude.
  • I’d like to curate my content more and share photos with longer captions. I want to have a purpose for my presence on Instagram and not just share my life randomly. I think this is important for me to keep healthy boundaries with social media and the internet in general.
  • I absolutely want to NOT check social media while watching a movie or first thing in the morning.
  • I will no longer use the Goodreads app, I will just check it from the browser when I need book recommendations or information.
  • I want this place being my main online home and social media only another way to be present online. Hopefully, I’ll be able to dedicate more time to this blog in 2019.

If you’d like to explore more the topic of social media and how they affect our lives (and minds!), I highly recommend you Deep Work by Cal Newport. He’s also releasing a new book in February called Digital Minimalism and I can’t wait to read it.

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6 thoughts on “The Power of Unplugged Holidays”

  1. you are fighting the good fight here, alice. and in many regards, too.
    due to unfortunate events in my family, i spent the weekend before christmas and most of christmas either entirely offline, or with a very reduced online presence. it’s weird how much of a difference it makes when you just break out of your usual social media checking pattern – once you skipped a day or so, it’s so much easier to ‘forgive’ yourself not scrolling all the way back to what you remember seeing last. ‘i wasn’t here too long, so much more than usual must have piled up’ – and suddenly FOMO isn’t as pressing anymore.

    and i really hear you about the lack of blogging. it’s sad from a point of view of not getting to read all those blog posts that remained unwritten, it’s sad that we lost the plethora of individually-styled blogs to mere profile pages on some service or other, and it’s concerning when we consider things like the business model of these services, how their management decisions can shut people out of their communication from one day to the next, and how external events can pressure these services to make increasingly user-unfriendly decisions.

    as ‘old-fashioned’ as it sounds, i liked the internet much better when it was lots and lots of (self-hosted) personal homepages (sometimes with blogs), and usually community-owned and -driven forums instead of groups on this or that big social network.

    1. I miss that kind of internet experience too when social media didn’t exist yet and people spent more time leaving comments and interacting on blogs!

  2. I loved reading this. While I certainly missed seeing you on social media over the Christmas holiday and each weekend, I’m so inspired by your decision to unplug and really want to start doing it more often myself. The point you made about your mind being clearer is one of the biggest reasons I know I need to step away more. Thank you for sharing your takeaways!

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