The No-Cost Holiday Gift to Myself: A Social Media Blackout


Many of you may know that holiday gifting to myself is a tradition I indulge in every year. (In the early days of this blog I used to publish “gift guides” that were mostly lists for my holiday earnings and hints to my mom.) Most of the time it's a large luxury item, a splurge. (I gifted myself a new bed from West Elm in 2015,  and my last-minute Italy trip in November served as my present-to-myself in 2016.) But this year, I wanted to do something different. I didn't want to merely consume. 

I was thinking about this while down with the flu during my holiday with Rich's family in Austin. I had a lot of time to rest, and one day I was laying in bed thinking about how I would do just about anything to feel better.  I was in one of those low, sickness-driven places when you're literally just so sick you're taking it personally and wondering what you ever did in your life to deserve the illness and promising the universe that you'll be a better person if you can just.feel.better.

I really should cut out the crap in my life,” I thought one morning after a particularly rough and sleepless night.

Once you're over the flu, you should cut out social media,” I thought again.

And for once, I was too weak to resist.

The Birth of the Social Media Blackout


Because I make money online and use social media daily for my work, it had to be carefully planned and thoughtfully executed.

Truthfully I've flirted with the idea of a “social media blackout” many times this year, but it never felt like the right time:

I felt the first, large urge to turn down social media after last year’s election. At that point in time, EVERYONE was treating their facebook page like a personal blog, writing 3-500 words on their political stances. Even when I agreed with the views, the anger or sadness behind it seemed to seep into my consciousness. 

The second time I wanted to do it was after my serious bout of depression I wrote about in this post. I was literally feeling so low I didn’t want to post on social media, but did anyway just so I could “maintain a presence.” 

And this summer I scaled way back on social for three months. Largely because I was in the middle of a big career shift, but also because I was implementing a lot of measures to try to make myself a healthier, happier human being. It felt good to let my Instagram languish for weeks. I only posted when I felt like I had something I wanted to share or wanted to remember later on. 

But then you know, Fall came around, and it was conferences and trips and I like sharing those things on social so I picked it back up and now I'm constantly on my phone. 

There is a such a large part of me that really loves Social Media

I enjoy peeking into what everyone I love is doing. I like following influencers and seeing the cool places they’re going, products they’re using. I like the generally positive nature of (most of) the posts I see.  Social media can be really, really fun. But it can also be really, really exhausting.

And I'm wondering how much my consumption of social is really serving me as a person. I want to use social media like a “normal person” where I can just vent my feelings, or post whatever I want, but then I get caught up in:

  • what other people think
  • if brands will want to work with me if I put certain things on social
  • how to curate the best “brand” experience to grow traffic and followers (I haven't been super successful with this, largely because of how tired doing all of the above makes me.)

I’d be lying if I said social media hadn’t made me sad at times during the last year, lying if I said it hadn’t made me angry, or upset, or injected a hint of negativity into an otherwise really pleasant day.

Even if I have neutral daily interactions with social (where something I see doesn't influence what I'm thinking/feeling in that moment) I'm still completely glued to my phone as of late. And I feel I can't really counsel mindful spending and money management when I can barely be mindful of my own screen time.

In an Effort to Be Better, I'm Now Attempting a Full-Blown Social Media Blackout December 9th to January 1st. 

Even though in my head I’m already having second thoughts like “oh, but we’ll have so many Christmas parties that I’ll want to post photos from,” or “I’ll want to see other bloggers gift guides on Instagram.

Nope, nope, nope. I have to hold myself to this.

But social media is so ingrained in how I live my life and work my routine, I do have serious doubts if I can stick with it. I'm going to try:

  • I’m deleting Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter off my phone
  • Still figuring out how to block the websites from my computers (If you have any tips, let me know!)
  • If you see social messages, they’re automated from WordPress itself by me and my awesome VA Chelsea. (We use CoSchedule, if anyone is interested!)
  • I won’t be answering comments or questions on social or in my BBA facebook group. If you want to get in touch, use the contact form on the site or shoot me an email. I always answer!

I Feel Really Good About This, and I'll Post About My Experiences Next Month

I often find myself wishing for a simpler time. Maybe 1998 when we still had computers and the internet, but before it felt like it took over everything. F*ck I'd even take 2007, or any time before I felt I couldn't escape the 24/7 news cycle.

Mostly, a large part of me wants to see if using not using social media actually does make my life better. And now does feel like the right time. What better way to celebrate the holidays than giving myself more time back in my day (I easily waste an hour or more on social apps each day.)? What better time to forsake social media so I can be truly present during the most family and gratitude focused time of the year?

For the next three weeks, I want to go about living my life in the most authentic way possible, instead of trying to curate an authentic-seeming life for everyone else.

And really, isn't that something worth fighting the urge to swipe, click, like, tweet and share for?

I think yes.

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  • Michelle
    December 28, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I love this post. That is all.

  • Sarah
    December 21, 2017 at 1:38 am

    I haven’t been on Facebook in about 3 weeks, because I also just felt so sad after looking at it (I’m a grad student, and all my friends were grad students, so this tax bill made for a lot of drama). I feel so much better and don’t really even miss it. I also check Instagram much less, though not necessarily intentionally. For one, the accounts I follow 99.99% of the time are uplifting and make me feel better, but I’m also mostly an observer. But I’ve been really busy with the end of the quarter, and I just don’t feel the urge to make sure I’ve scrolled far enough down to see everything. I truly only have one priority on Instagram, and that’s sdupreebemis ‘s story which always has her cute, funny kids on it. I really appreciate having a real purpose to taking a break, as opposed to an arbitrarily imposed one (a 30 day challenge, or for Lent, etc). Your blog is a real source of inspiration, so thank you and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 21, 2017 at 8:22 am

      I’m also feeling some of the benefits, and I agree with you – I wonder if I’d miss it more if I were doing this during a time when I wasn’t so busy 🙂

  • Colin @ rebelwithaplan
    December 11, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    I’ve done social media blackouts during the holidays and they have helped. I did one last year for about a month after the election and it make me feel better. We could all use a break every now and then.

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 14, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      Yes, yes, yes. Right about now, I need a break from everything except a warm blanket and my couch.

  • Money Beagle
    December 8, 2017 at 10:06 am

    I gave up Facebook for Lent earlier this year. That was fine and gave a pretty nice break from a lot of the negativity that it’s become there now. After Easter, I did go back on but I’ve found that I’m much less prone to check and post than I was before my blackout, so the benefits have been far reaching.

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 14, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      Glad you were able to stick with it!

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach
    December 7, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I don’t think it’s ever a bad time to examine what you have going on in your life and what’s working and what is not. We could all benefit from less screen time. Too much of it definitely makes me more anxious in life.

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 14, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      Yeah, except now to fill in the gaps I’m reading the news. Which also doesn’t help my anxiety *FACEPALM*

  • giulia
    December 7, 2017 at 4:15 am

    I think sometimes is necessary to have a sort of detox from social platform, in my personal case I deactivated my profile on Facebook and this is good…yes sometimes I think “oh I’d like to share it on fb” I’m still writing on my blog and post pics on Instagram:D maybe nexxt time I will do a detox from everything!

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 14, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      So far, so good, although it’s been easier to get rid of some things more than others.