Social Media Detox
As those of you who regularly update social media accounts already know, it can get exhausting, overwhelming and all-consuming. That’s why at the end of July, after 1.5 years of updating our Musikal Husky Instagram every single day, I decided to take a 40 day social media break.
Back when we started our Musikal Husky Instagram, I remember declaring in team meetings that I needed to take Augusts off. I was suspicious of the platform in general and never wanted to become "one of those narcissistic psychos who shares their breakfast." Everyone agreed. However, when August 2018 rolled around, I genuinely wanted to spend the time promoting our brand new book and did not think about taking any time off. By July 2019, I had been on Instagram nearly every day for almost 1.5 years and often shared my morning avo toast with everyone via IG stories. It was embedded into my consciousness and life.
In light of this and the fact that I knew that 1) September onwards would be very busy with projects, and 2) my mom was going to need me to help her with wedding prep in August, I decided to take the entire month off starting at the end of July. A 6 week social media detox.
Why We Don't Take Time Off
Active Instagram users typically don't take time off either because checking and updating the account has become habit (or in plainer words we are addicted to it) or because we fear losing valuable business. Since I did feel weird compulsions to constantly check social media and also did wonder how many Rhythm Keepers would or would not not make it into studios/homes due to my "detox" - I decided to go for it and see.
It was bizarre, but the first week of the detox I really missed Instagram. I would see something beautiful and instinctually grab my phone to take a picture before realizing that I could perhaps just enjoy that beautiful thing, no framing, clicking and uploading necessary. Particularly during certain rituals, like preparing meals, which I often share on IG Stories, I would feel the urge to share with the Musikal Husky community and lament not being able to share the beautiful vegetable pasta dish or avocado toast with herbed mushrooms I had prepared.
At the beginning of August, we traveled to America for a month long incredibly intense and beautiful trip for my mom and best friend's weddings. Overall, it was really, really nice not having to check an account, think about how “well” a post did, being angry at an algorithm, and so forth. It was also nice not having to document my life for stories. For example, we were at a gorgeous brunch overlooking the city in late July and rather than photograph the beautiful scenery and gorgeous food (SOOO YUMMMMM!), I could focus on the present moment and our friends who were debating a big move. In August, time away from social media allowed me to be more helpful during my mom’s wedding weekend, daydream, putz around the house, and neurotically clean the house’s pantry.
Another quick note about a social media detox: you suddenly have more time. In my journal from the 2nd week in, I jotted down, “I’ve stopped checking the phone to see if Instagram is still there. Getting much more done and have finished a lot of work for the fall blog/IG content that I would’ve pushed off otherwise.”
The Business End
Many marketing consultants have declared that businesses are putting unnecessary time, energy, and money into Instagram campaigns. Interestingly enough, Musikal Husky sales were not impacted by the detox, which led to the unanticipated conclusion that our Instagram account exists simply for the sake of community-building. Yes, we have certainly reached some fabulous music teachers through social media that have led to sales. @violagreg, @laurenhaleystudios @graceplaysviolin are all examples of wonderful teaching professionals we wouldn't have met otherwise. However, relying on social media alone as a sales tactic for our business is clearly not the answer to more sales. The upside of a social media detox is that you remember so many other modes of publicity: Finally starting our newsletter. Reaching out to more teachers. Sending books to colleagues. Even talking to acqaintances at my mom's wedding about why their kids absolutely need the Rhythm Keeper and insisting they take a copy home with them! You know, the time and tested modes of getting the word out there.
At some point, to my great surprise, I earnestly wanted the IG detox to end. After weeks of uninterrupted family time, I was ready to connect again to teaching, rhythm, Musikal Husky's mission, and our community. So I decided to post a beautiful review @laurenhaleystudios wrote about our book. THAT SAID! The first time I was on Instagram again, I realized, horrified, that it had been nearly one hour since I had signed on. Yes, it started out as composing and posting the review and a few IG story slides, but it somehow devolved into passively looking at piano teacher accounts across the world and assessing the technique of their students. YIKES. It was an immediate wake up call that a detox ALONE would not wipe out bad habits; I needed to stay mindful of those. However, having the time off also has made me more comfortable leaving my phone at home, unplugging for a whole day, and not thinking about what is happening online. The time away from Instagram helped remind me that what’s on social media is truly not that important.
Instagram is a part of my life, for better or worse. I share a lot of our home & work life in posts and on stories simply because I want to. I hope our content inspires other teachers/musicians/parents in myriad ways (like practicing rhythm as an independent skill!) and strive to model a healthy brain lifestyle. But I am not perfect and certainly don't pretend to have all the answers. In terms of screen time, I do know that I will continue to be as mindful as possible by putting the phone on airplane mode while I'm working (like right now), having whole days of no IG when possible, and turning off the phone a few hours before bed completely.
If you’re feeling burnt out by social media, the truth is that nobody will miss you too much if you decide to prioritize your own needs and go offline for awhile. It's up to all of us to continue making Instagram a valuable, positive space that's worth the time we do spend on it because for a lot of us, it's an inevitable reality of 2019 and is, at its best, a space for genuine connection.
IDEAS FOR MICRO-DETOXES
If you're not ready for a major multi-week break, here are some ideas for "micro-detoxes"
leave your phone at home when you take a walk, walk the dogs, or have coffee with a friend. You won't need it and will feel much more relaxed!
turn off your phone every night one hour before bed and one hour after waking up so your last and first thoughts of each day don't revolve around what's happening in cyberspace
have entire days of no social media (turn off your phone completely, turn it to airplane mode, or delete the apps completely if you won’t be able to stop yourself)
Have more ideas? Comment below!