My week without social media or blogging

riverI’ve just logged back onto social media and my blog after an entire week off. It’s been a good week. Here are some profound insights thoughts that occurred to me as the week went by:

Sharing aspects of your life is addictive.

Sharing the way bloggers or avid social media users do has a compulsive aspect to it, I think. At the start of my week off, I found it really odd not to share things I’d read, or photos of what I’d seen or done, or thoughts I’d had, or funny things the kids had said, or insights into my life or… just, you know, ALL the stuff so many of us share so often. I sometimes wonder whether our generation feels that something has only really happened if it’s been shared online – that an experience isn’t really valid unless we plaster various versions of it over our social media feeds and get ‘likes’. I’ve certainly found that in many of life’s lovely moments I’ve felt that urge to capture and share. This week was like having an itch I couldn’t really scratch. There were a couple of times I sent my husband and friends texts just because “This happened!” (whatever ‘this’ was) and the urge to share was too strong, but as the days went by I started to get used to it. The itch got less itchy. Now I feel a bit weird about sharing again. Writing this feels a bit odd, actually.

Despite how often I usually check my phone for ‘likes’… I don’t really need the affirmation.

I thought I would miss the affirmation aspect of social media – the likes, comments and RT’s, the little hearts and thumbs up – don’t they make me feel better? Isn’t it good to feel that approval? Wouldn’t I miss all those little pats on the back?

Er… no. Turns out, when I wasn’t putting anything out there that people might ‘like’ or otherwise, I didn’t need it at all. In fact it was a relief because I wasn’t looking for affirmation and didn’t need to keep checking my phone for it. Not that when I normally post a photo or whatever I’m consciously thinking ‘affirm my life please, people!’ but I guess that’s basically what it amounts to isn’t it? So, take away the ‘look what I’m doing!’ element of social media and I felt free. Much more secure in myself. And that’s because…

Real life is wonderfully affirming regardless of the lack of a ‘thumbs up’ button.

The best, warmest, cuddliest affirmation comes from the people in your life who you are genuinely connected to. That’s a no-brainer, really. It certainly doesn’t preclude online friends but, leave social media for long enough and I’m betting that those people with whom you have a genuine connection will find ways of communicating with you in the real world anyway. I was really touched by the number of texts I got from people asking how my social-media-free week was going. Of course, texts did then kind of fill the gap a bit – I sent and received an awful (wonderful) lot of texts last week, but meh, I never claimed this was a total ‘no typing’ week.

Having just totted it up, I’ve also realised I had more proper, face-to-face social engagements last week that there were days in the week. And some of them were with more than one friend! Little Miss Introvert here had a rip-roaringly sociable time of it. Heavens.

Social media is a barrier between me and real life.

Ok it’s not an impermeable barrier and in fact it’s also a bridge. A sort of bridgey-barrier (look , I’ve had a week off blogging, I’ve forgotten how to express myself here clearly!) It allows me to connect to people but it also means, in the moment, I’m less present. This week both my husband and eldest son have said it’s wonderful that I’m not on social media; that I’m not always distracted by my phone. And I’m not surprised they expressed that, because I’ve felt more engaged and just, well, THERE with people. It’s been lovely.

I’m a better parent when I’m offline.

Given the time I spend on my phone normally… ouch. But it’s true. See above – I have more time for my kids. I am more present.

When I’m not blogging, I have more time (full stop).

Without having to think about blogging this week I had time for other things. I finished the book I was reading (The Pursuit Of Happiness And Why It’s Making Us Anxious – review to follow – interesting stuff!). I did some of my illustration course and started work on the first assignment. This made me very happy. I also had time to spend with my husband in the evenings – we had conversations! We even watched a Rom Com together – neither of us particularly like Rom Coms but we couldn’t find a suitable Sci Fi. Anyway it starred Ryan Reynolds (have loved him since Deadpool) and Isla Fisher (have loved her since Home and Away 20 years ago!) so it wasn’t a bad way to pass an evening.

Oh, and I cleaned the car. I. CLEANED. THE. CAR! Yep, no more melted Chewits in the glove compartment. Get in.

Phone calls are lovely

Do you remember those hours spent chatting on the phone with friends in years gone by? These days, apart from to a few family members, I don’t spend much time on the phone at all so when the phone rang earlier in the week and one of my friend’s names appeared on the screen, it felt quite unusual. He was phoning me with a question –normally he would have FB messaged me but since I was off social media, he called instead. And it was lovely to talk to him. Actually hearing people’s voices is so different to seeing their words on your screen. I could hear his wife (one of my close friends) in the background and they were kind of teasing each other and saying things to me and I it felt like a snippet of real life. There they were, my friends, just being themselves in a house not too far away – it was oddly reassuring and affirming. And if that sounds a bit soppy it’s because…

Without distraction, I’ve felt life more intensely.

I’ve very much been feeling ‘all the feels’ this week. Admittedly, this is what I’m like anyway – I’ve said before that I sometimes feel like my heart isn’t so much on my sleeve as hanging around my neck on some kind of loose chain that bounces around and catches on things as I go through life. It also has wings and has a tendency to try to fly off – it’s all a bit dicey. Well, this week it’s been that feeling times ten. And its been almost entirely positive too. I keep thinking how amazing people are. All that socialising and those lovely texts helped. It’s been a week of warm fuzzy feelings. Maybe if you put the warm fuzzys out there they get a chance to grow (fuzzier?!)?

There will always be a lot going on in my head

I have a noisy mind – a stream of constant chatter. I’m always thinking something or working something out or getting a new idea. And into this fits social media with its endless stream of other people’s lives and thoughts and ideas that send my thoughts off in seven (thousand) directions at once. I thought that without social media it would be quieter – I thought that without that input my own chatter might die down. Not a bit of it, I could just hear myself more clearly. So I’ve had to accept this is how I am. What it does make me think though, is that given how much there is going on in my head – do I really the social media input? Do I need more stimulation? Answer: big fat no. Which brings me on to…

I feel happier without social media.

I was intending to log back into the hive mind – or ‘dive back into the swamp’ as a friend (lovingly, I’m sure… ) put it – this morning but I couldn’t really bring myself to. I went onto Instagram and hurriedly shut it down. Skimmed though Facebook scattering likes then quickly thought ‘enough now’. I didn’t get as far as Twitter till after six and even then I only responded to one tweet. It’s just too full-on. Despite the constant chatter in my head, it is definitely more peaceful without social media. The nasty demon of comparison hasn’t been able to needle me and I feel better for it. I’ve just been reading a book all about happiness and the damaging effects of social media on it and this makes total sense to me now. It’s been a happy week. Why would I want to risk all that and return to my newsfeeds and timelines? Why? Well…

It has its lovely side… and I’ve missed that

A friend from my ‘What I’m Writing’ group said to me that it was noticeable that I wasn’t around because she’s used to me flitting around the group being supportive and tweeting people’s posts and writing nice comments (Thanks T!). She also said that she and others were stepping up to fill the gap though. And I thought, ‘that’s my gang – all there for each other!’. There is something wonderful about our What I’m Writing group and beyond them the other lovely people in the blogosphere too. Yes, I missed you!

And that means:

Social media and blogging play a role in my happiness.

This part is crucial. I just said I’m a better parent when I’m offline – that’s a pretty damning indictment really isn’t it? If it makes me a worse parent then I should ditch it, run away from it, leave it in the dust… surely?

Well, no (here comes the justification bit… ). The thing is, over the past few years blogging has become a part of who I am. I love the connections I’ve made (my online friends mean loads to me), and the whole experience has been vital to my writing ‘journey’ (inverted commas because I can’t take the word ‘journey’ seriously I but I also can’t think of a better word). I don’t want to just cut and run. Social media is part and parcel of blogging. Twitter also brings me #ShapeChallenge and other creative kicks up the bum which I know are good for me. Facebook can be a great place to keep in touch with real life friends, and both can be a source of intellectual stimulation.

All of that is important to me, and I want to keep it in my life. Giving it up would make me a worse parent for a whole different set of reasons.

But:

Something has to change.

That much is crystal clear to me now. I haven’t yet worked out quite what all the changes will be but, for starters, I’m not reinstalling Facebook or Twitter on my phone (Instagram is basically unusable otherwise so I’ll put that back). I’m going to have to work out a better balance for blogging too. I need to blog less. I want more time for creativity and friendship and being a decent parent. There’s no going back now.

And there’s one final thing I’ve learned:

No matter how much extra time I have in my life, I still won’t do the ironing.

I just won’t.

Writing Bubble

 

And then the fun began...
mumturnedmom

40 thoughts on “My week without social media or blogging

    1. Maddy Post author

      Oh I’d definitely recommend getting rid of the apps from your phone! I was in a playground yesterday and instead of scrolling through FB and Twitter when the boys were occupied, I took in the scenery and watched all the kids play – it felt much more peaceful! My ironing pile grows ever higher… Thanks for commenting, Cara. x
      Maddy recently posted…Book Review: The Pursuit of Happiness (and why it’s making us anxious) – Ruth WhippmanMy Profile

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  1. Kamsin

    I had a reading deprivation last week and took a break from blogging just because I was on holiday and didn’t have computer access. I couldn’t quite bring myself not to check Facebook altogether though. I don’t interact that much on Twitter anyway, just share a few tweets of what I’m reading, so as I wasn’t reading any blogs I didn’t tweet.

    Anyway, I keep my blogging low key for all the reasons you said. I need to get on top of Facebook though. I am constantly joining new groups around challenges or other things and can’t resist spending time chatting in the groups. I’m trying to restrict myself to specific times and work on being fully present with my family when I’m not on social media.

    Anyway, great post. It’s nice to be back to #whatimwriting
    Kamsin recently posted…When all the advice in the world is meant for everyone but youMy Profile

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  2. Me, You and Magoo

    This is a really interesting read for me. I completely agree with the way you have been feeling about social media, about wanting to ‘cut down the noise’. I deactivated my Facebook account about 4 weeks ago and it has had such a huge affect on me. I feel more focussed, calmer, less distracted. It must be noticeable because my husband says he can see a change in me since leaving Facebook. You definitely feel more ‘present’ when you don’t have the urge to post stuff to F/book. There is this desire to share all aspects of our life and there is a feeling that something hasn’t happened unless you’ve posted it online. I think they call is FOMO “fear of missing out”. I like to think I’ve embraced my JOMO “joy of missing out” since leaving Facebook.
    Having said that, I’m still on Twitter and Instagram, so I haven’t gone cold turkey on social media altogether.
    I guess it’s about having an awareness of how social media can affect us. Perhaps we all need to try and have a healthier relationship with it? Maybe a ‘gadget free day’ every weekend? It might mean we all have to actually talk to our friends and family for a change!
    Me, You and Magoo recently posted…My Sunday Photo 15th May: Big Ted’s OperationMy Profile

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    1. Maddy Post author

      I think a ‘gadget-free’ day is a great idea! Social media is so addictive and changes the way we experience things I think. Once I’m in a posting groove, I find my brain is constantly re-describing things in potential status update form – it’s ridiculous! Glad your move away from FB is going so well for you. Am tempted to join you! Thanks for commeting. xx
      Maddy recently posted…Book Review: The Pursuit of Happiness (and why it’s making us anxious) – Ruth WhippmanMy Profile

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  3. Jess Powell (Babi a Fi)

    I love the idea of going cold turkey, but I’m not sure I could actually go through with it. The last time was a forced three weeks when we moved into our current place – we had no TV, no internet, and I was so pregnant I couldn’t do much more than sit and read on my own all day. I thought I was going to lose my mind! I need to find a better balance, but I hate the feeling of being cut off from the wider world I get without the net. x #thetruthabout
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  4. Nicola Young

    Welcome back Maddy. We missed you!

    I totally understand your need to have a social media break and this is a fascinating insight in to how it has affected you. I do think there is a place in our world for it though. If not, If not, how would we have ever met?! I thought I was on it too much not so long ago, so I installed an app called ‘Break free’ and it monitors how many times and how long you use your phone. I’ve only been in the red zone once and that was when my son was playing games on it when we were watching swimming lessons. Lots of people are leaving Facebook lately, but I like it, of all of them. Twitter was the one I had to come off – it takes up way too much time and you have to be on it constantly to keep up with conversations.

    Social media does open doors and create opportunities and blogging is a social thing, but hopefully by taking a break, you will be able to find the right balance. It does justify arranging to meet more often in person though doesn’t it?!!
    Nicola Young recently posted…Manuscript planningMy Profile

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    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Nicola! I would LOVE to meet up more in person! I think that’s the downside of making friends online – you’re scattered around the country (and world) which makes meet ups so much harder. I also kind of like FB the most – it’s certainly the one I have the strongest attachment too – I think because it’s the easiest to get chatting on so is the most sociable in that way. I also think FB is the place where the comparison demon waits for me most though – twitter just washes over me where as FB kind of stops me and says ‘ooh look at that… wouldn’t you like more of that? wouldn’t you? wouldn’t you?’… I just need ot find the balance. xx
      Maddy recently posted…Book Review: The Pursuit of Happiness (and why it’s making us anxious) – Ruth WhippmanMy Profile

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  5. jeremy@thirstydaddy

    I think its important to find a balance. I’m more of a FB and IG “skimmer”. I like to see whats going on with other people, but don’t feel a constant need to “keep up.” I think where people make the mistake is being overly anxious about “missing something” if they aren’t checking constantly

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  6. Marija Smits

    This is such a lovely and reflective piece, Maddy. I have to say that I missed your presence online, but totally know where you’re coming from. I always feel as though I’m having to set boundaries with respect to social media etc. because it’s neverending (and exhausting) isn’t it? I think that having an ancient phone that isn’t connected to the world wide web probably helps, and I always try my best to keep Saturdays free of online time. Anyway, it’s good to have you back (although I understand you may well not be online as much nowadays…). Take care xx
    Marija Smits recently posted…Turning 40 – some reflectionsMy Profile

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    1. Maddy Post author

      I’ve noticed that you’re very disciplined with social media – an ancient phone sounds like a very useful tool in that way! and a weekend day off sounds very wise. It’s amazing how easily a ‘quick glance’ at FB can become half an hour… then a hour as updates and articles draw you in! Thanks for your lovely comment, Marija.(Don’t know if I should call you by your real name… are you undercover?) xx
      Maddy recently posted…Book Review: The Pursuit of Happiness (and why it’s making us anxious) – Ruth WhippmanMy Profile

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  7. Turning Up In Devon

    Hi Maddie, great to see you back and hopefully refreshed. Your post made so much sense! I think social media is like anything – such as cake! Too much and it makes us sick. I don’t have any social media apps on my phone, I’ve kind of given up on FB and just enjoy flicking over Twitter and really trying not to go on at weekends (or barely) and i’m not going there with Instagram etc. I try and do blog related work between Monday and Thursday (around work) so I can start to free up my mind for the other three days. I agree that Blog breaks are essential, I won’t be blogging in half term, and you made me smile about watching a film and cleaning the car – I SOOOO need to clean my car, have got soft smurched pringles in the kids footwells! xx

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    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Hillie! You sounds like you have the right attitude to social media and blogging and I should take a leaf out of your book. As for the car, we went to a very sandy playground yesterday and it now basically has a beach in the back of it. This is why I don’t clean it very often! You never know when those smurched pringles might come in handy! xx
      Maddy recently posted…Book Review: The Pursuit of Happiness (and why it’s making us anxious) – Ruth WhippmanMy Profile

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  8. Sam

    This is really interesting Maddy, and can I just say I love the way you’ve formatted this post too, leading from one point to the next with headings that follow on – clever. I agree with everything you say here except I don’t think I have quite so much internal chatter going on and so I find myself in the position that I’ve kind of made the changes you suggest for yourself without even analysing it or explaining it or blogging it out at all. Part of that is me being a bit lazy, part of that is that what’s been going on in my life has just led to less blogging anyway and I’ve never really ‘done’ Twitter or much Instagramming – Facebook is my drug of choice with all the highs and lows that go with being an addicted user. I mourned the loss of my full on blogging schedule a long time ago but if I had to analyse the benefits I would definitely say that my life is a lot more balanced now. Thanks so much for linking up to #thetruthabout with this. X
    Sam recently posted…The Truth about… #75My Profile

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    1. Maddy Post author

      Glad you like the post’s format Sam, thanks for that! I felt like there was so much I wanted to say I had to use sub-headings or it would have become an epic scrambled mess. With what you’ve been dealing with, I’m not surprised you’ve had less time for blogging but I’m glad you’re finding more of a balance without the full-on schedule. Blogging (and social media) can expand to fill any gap and overtake most of life if we don’t watch out, I think! xx
      Maddy recently posted…What I’m writing – week seventy-eightMy Profile

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  9. Rachael

    Good to have you back Maddy! You’re so present across social media – especially recently – that I wondered how much you might miss it! I have my moments – I realised long ago that Facebook wasn’t healthy for me so I uninstalled it from my phone and I only post to my biz page now mostly – very very occasionally to my personal page as you might have noticed! Twitter I was a little more addicted to but as I also manage two other accounts I have had to put better boundaries around that… Look forward to hearing you how find better balance for yourself. :) x
    Rachael recently posted…From ‘meh’ to motivated in 6 stepsMy Profile

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    1. Maddy Post author

      Life is definitely better without twitter and FB on my phone – it helps me to keep some boundaries. I’ve heard so many people who, like you, say FB isn’t healthy for them – it doesn’t really surprise me. I’m half tempted to completely come off it… but then a lovely conversation will happen with friends in a comments section and I’m all like ‘awww, FB’ again! Thanks for commenting, Rachael. xx
      Maddy recently posted…What I’m writing – week seventy-eightMy Profile

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  10. Jo Winwood

    Welcome back to the mad house! When I had my media blackout week I noticed an ‘itch’ like you but the moment when it no longer itched was wonderful. I had the chattering masses in my head too but they were mainly helpful – started to enjoy writing in my notebook and their contributions were noted which calmed them a little! Getting back into the social medai too was a shock – I could hardly bear to look at all the rubbish scrolling through Twitter and I gave my timeline a real spring clean. I now try to be more discerning and will certainly do another one – an enforced one coming up when I go on holiday, I never do social media when abroad (scared of the cost!)
    Jo Winwood recently posted…Lightbulb MomentMy Profile

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  11. Susan Mann

    Wow that really is fascinating. I missed you not being there and reading your tweets and your posts. Glad you missed bits of it, but it really is about finding the balance isn’t it. Hugs and lovely to see you back xx

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  12. Sophie Lovett

    Gosh what an unexpectedly moving post! So many of the things you’ve said here ring true to me… I think I have found a bit of a better balance with blogging and social media than I had a year or so ago, but I still waste way too much time subconsciously seeking validation in the virtual world when it would be so much more meaningful if I looked up from the screen and picked up the phone. As you also say though there are lots of positives to it all too – new friends, new insights, new opportunities… It is just all about that balance. And definitely worth taking a break to reevaluate every now and again too… Xx
    Sophie Lovett recently posted…Keeping focusedMy Profile

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    1. Maddy Post author

      I’m always amazed by the amount of time I can lose to social media… ‘I’ll just click on this article and oh, it links to something else and… oooh Buzzfeed! and now an article about Donald Trump etc etc… I really think real world validation is the best. Thanks for commenting, Sophie xx
      Maddy recently posted…What I’m writing – week seventy-nineMy Profile

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  13. Yvonne

    Finding that balance… very hard. I feel like I have not quite figured it all out yet. Part of the problem is that there are always things I could be doing, on my blog, as a parent, at work… the list is endless. I did do a timetable to try and sort out my week but life got in the way of that and it didnt seem to work. I like the idea of having time off completely from blogging/social media. I might just have to give that a shot :) #thetruthabout

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  14. Emily Organ

    Yes to all this! I’ve never been much of a sharer on social media and I put very little of my comings and goings on there and pretty much no pictures of the children or myself. I think to myself, ‘If I’m sharing everything then where’s the mystique?’. I like a bit of mystique. I am horribly nosy though, and, after a recent FB break, I found myself back on there gawping at other people’s updates and scattering a few likes as you say. It’s nice to keep up on what’s happening but the time spent doing so definitely needs be carefully managed. It’s easy to be disparaging about social media but it does have a role as you say and it sounds like you break did you lots of good. Hopefully now you can enjoy it in a more measured way x

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    1. Maddy Post author

      Yes, mystique is a good thing! I used to have so much, but being a blogger is making it vanish! I think you’re very clever with your use of your blog and social media – it feels structured and more meaningful than a lot of what’s out there! xx
      Maddy recently posted…What I’m writing – week seventy-nineMy Profile

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  15. Leigh - Headspace Perspective

    LOVE this post! The content and structure, too. The lessons you’ve learnt resonate with me: I spend less time blogging, and on social media than I used to and feel happier for it. Social media is a bridge for me too – I’m so grateful for the bonds and friendships I have built through SoMe and blogging, and wouldn’t be without them. What I can do without, however, is the constant noise especially on Twitter!
    With you on the ironing too – it would have to be a very special occasion for me to consider getting the iron out. And even then…. :-) xxx #theprompt
    Leigh – Headspace Perspective recently posted…Patience and Resilience in Coping With Trauma and GriefMy Profile

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  16. Tim

    Great insights, Maddy. It’s so easy for social media and blogging to quietly and insidiously take over our lives without us really noticing, and it’s all about finding the right balance. I love blogging and I love social media but there has to be time for other things too, such as properly being there for family and not just vaguely present while chuckling at something on Facebook.

    I really ought to try this for myself some time!
    Tim recently posted…My Sunday Photo: My second family – the story behind the pictureMy Profile

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    1. Maddy Post author

      Yes, the ‘vaguely present while chuckling at something on facebook’ is all too true! I’m trying to keep a handle on that now. Still work in progress because now I’m back on social media it’s ensnaring me again. I might need another break soon. You should definitely try it! Thanks for commenting, Tim – glad you enjoyed the post.
      Maddy recently posted…What I’m writing – week seventy-nineMy Profile

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  17. Pempi

    I blog but not all the time and I don’t do Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat and reading your post I don’t think I’m missing out on much :) I do use the telephone and I do meet people and socialise a lot in real life as well as be really busy on my own and happy with my own company so I don’t think the drag to on-line happiness is too great for me. Both of my children (now left home) seem to strike a happy balance with their social media connections but I do worry for those children I see with their mum texting as she pushes the pushchair and not bothering to talk and chatter to her own child. What will those children’s socialisation skills be like and what are they missing out on for knowledge as I think to I was always pointing things out to my two as we walked along. Social media has its good points but there are major drawbacks too!
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

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  18. Jenny @ Unremarkable Files

    It was SO interesting to read this! I haven’t stepped away like that since I started my blog a year and a half ago, but I can imagine experiencing all the things you said if I were brave enough to do so! I even feel the itch to share if I’m out and something happens and I don’t have my phone or camera with me to capture it so I can put it on the blog!
    #ThePrompt
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  19. Sara | mumturnedmom

    Very, very interesting! A lot of these conclusions are ones I’ve been coming to over the last six months. I turned all notifications off on my phone some time ago, and that made a huge difference, and last week I finally deleted Facebook off my phone. No more going to bed then finding I’m still awake an hour later :) I flit in and out of twitter anyway, that’s never been a time suck for me and I do love Instagram, so sticking with that one. But, it really is all about balance – I’m with you on the bridgey-barrier thing – I love all the connections that blogging and social media bring, but they can be a barrier to actually talking to someone in real life… which is something I definitely need to do more of, but I love all you lot too :) So, I’ll continue to muddle along! Thank you so much for sharing this with #ThePrompt x
    Sara | mumturnedmom recently posted…The Prompt: Week 116My Profile

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