2 weeks off social media

March 19, 2021

I’m at the two week mark of my social media pause.

Surprisingly I really don’t miss social media all that much, but I’ve been a bit ‘twitchy’ this past week.
As I delve further into the book I’m reading on Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport I’m noticing a few rookie mistakes I’ve made about this process.

I’ve been clear about my commitment – 8 weeks of no Facebook, Instagram or messenger. I’ve deleted the apps, and got my husband to change the passwords, but I didn’t think about replacement strategies.

I should know better, right? I used to specialize in self-harm. I used to work in a methadone clinic. I know how dependency and urge surfing works, but probably thought I would be fine with will power. For the first week that was fine. I was reading more, exercising more and drinking less alcohol and even feeling a bit smug when I picked up a book instead of my phone.

This second week was different. My kids had whopper tantrums as they adjust to school and kinder (and I had to remind myself it’s only been a month since our last lockdown here in Melbourne). So, what do you know:

More wine snuck in
Old habits started creeping in – like hiding in the bathroom to binge on chocolate
I’ve caught myself waking up, grabbing my phone and staring at the screen for no reason
I’ve found myself mindlessly checking my email more without even realizing how I got there

This season of life is tough. As I’m learning in the book I’m reading, More Than a Woman (such a funny read!) life at this age gets more complex because of how many things you’re keeping track of with what feels like a never ending list. My brain constantly feels like it has too many tabs open and it’s exhausting.

I’ve realized how much shame creeps in when you’re an exhausted Mum who is craving novelty, reward and solitude. Social media scrolling taps into these pain points SO well:

Sleep deprivation makes you want to check more
Motherhood is often boring
Motherhood fosters deep FOMO
Motherhood involves a great deal of feeling unappreciated and invalidated
Just being really fucking lonely sometimes while you sit in your house with your tantruming kids

In fact, the perfect storm of matrescence and social media addiction has me thinking there might be a book in me about that. Stay tuned!

I have discovered something deeply alarming about myself – that I have really lost my ability to find a slow, steady wave of satisfaction. Doing things that are not instantly gratifying sucks. Learning or re-learning an instrument, or how to draw or paint – they take time to craft and don’t instantly feel good while you’re practising, but logic and muscle memory tells me that they eventually become way more satisfying than scrolling.

These are things I used to love as a child an adolescent that now, as a 37 year old woman I avoid because I know they will initially not be gratifying.

I’ve started to realize how difficult some things have become. It may sound silly but things like:

Concentrating for long periods without being distracted
Finding solitude for deep thinking and nervous system recalibration

Things that are SO important to me as a writer and a Mum

When was the last time you listened to an album – start to finish, no skips, no ads, no multitasking but actually just sat and listened?

I’ve realized how much more patience and focus I practiced as a teenager just by being ‘forced’ to wait for a song to come on. Yes, I think I was more patient at 17 than I am at 37.

I realized while pegging the washing out that I carry my phone everywhere ‘for safety’ and yet, if I was bitten by a snake down the back of the property my phone is now so complicated it might not be useful. I don’t think my 5 year old could call for help on my phone – not with the passcodes and face ID and specific buttons to press. These are all things partially designed to stop my kids from making overseas phone calls and it works. It works so well they can’t use my phone to make a phone call. What the hell happened there?

When I was five, I had to memorise my phone number. I knew how to ring triple 0. I’ve made it way too complicated for my kids.

I feel sad that my kids don’t have a way to access music in our house for themselves without asking Google home.

Last month I bought a Nick Cave album on vinyl for a friend’s 40th birthday and had an overwhelming urge to have a record player in the house. When I was a child, I’d always imagined being an adult who had wall to wall books and a record collection. While 15 year old me would be SO impressed by how easily I can access music nowadays, I miss hunting for music on a Saturday afternoon.
I miss the local record shop guy being so stoned he’d regularly put the wrong CD in the jewel case (Super Jesus instead of Super Furry Animals, ok, but Dixie Chicks instead of Pixies was unforgivable!)
Turns out we’ve had a record playing sitting in our garage for the last 5 years. My brother in law left it behind when he moved overseas, so my homework for myself is to revisit the idea of deep listening without distractions

Deep listening and selling courses

While we are on the topic of deep listening – I’ve been spending some time this week helping some of my mentoring clients with sales problem-solving. Courses not selling the way they’d like and having trouble finding a unique voice in an often saturated market.

After my massive sales win last week (760 new enrolments!) I’ve been thinking more and more about how I did that. Something I’d really recommend is re-visiting skills in deep listening.

What is it your ideal client actually wants? I know you think you know what’s best for them and the temptation is to start creating a course to fill a need. But here’s the thing – have you actually asked people “is this what you want? Is this what would be useful?” Have you pilot tested any of your content? Run a beta group?

Marketers always say to sell your course then build it. I didn’t do that. But I think I only got away with it because I began with a solid deep listening practice first.

While I was building my course I also ran a podcast – I was regularly having deep conversations about what it was birth workers needed from birth trauma training. I pilot tested by running webinars and doing in-person teaching in doula trainings. I went on other people’s podcasts. I listened and listened and listened. Then I ran a beta group and listened again.

The trainings in how to actually make a course and sell it come later, but very few people are actually skilled at deep listening. Start there and build your muscles. When people feel seen and understood and safe – they’ll be ready to learn from you 😊

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