Why I’m Cutting Back on Social Media as an Indie Author

Shari on the mountain_2019
This is me on a hike with my boyfriend months after getting sick.

A week before Christmas in 2018, a virus attacked my brain stem.

Technically, it was my vestibular nerve, which is responsible for communication between the eyes, inner ears, and brain. The condition is called vestibular neuritis (yes, you can Google it).

The result of this random, weird sickness was the world wouldn’t stop spinning and the horizon constantly quivered like riding a Shake Shack. I couldn’t drive, walk, read, cook, sit in a chair at a table, look at a phone or computer screen–and worst of all, I couldn’t write or work.

I took family medical leave for two months before I could return to my full-time job. And when I started coming back to life, I realized something:

Social media was giving me anxiety.

Which is kinda a conundrum, since I’ve worked as a social media manager. And I’m an indie author, and we rely on social media to help sell books. Nonetheless, every time I jumped onto Facebook, I no longer saw my friends having a fun hike or taking a family trip to Northern Arizona.

I saw activities I could no longer do and feared I would never be able to do again.

So I Decided to Quit Facebook for a Month

I also cut back on Instagram; same with Twitter (to be fair, I stopped using Twitter regularly a year ago).

Slowly, I found myself concentrating inwardly again: on my emotions, on my relationships with close friends, family, and my boyfriend. Life became a constant state of meditation, reflection, and observation as I worked to reduce the immense anxiety that consumed me during the recovery stages of this awful sickness.

And I found myself living in the moment more.

The Science Backs Up My Feelings, Too

Today, I’m slowly working some social media back into my life, but I like the way I feel when it’s not a dominant factor. I also realized that I value my privacy. I don’t mind sharing certain personal stories (like this one), but I want to control how much of my life is discussed publicly.

Maybe my subconscious knew these things years ago, when I wrote the first draft of my debut novel, The Apollo Illusionabout a future society’s frightening overdependence on technology.

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Either way, even though I might need social media to help promote my book, I’ll be more conscious of how much I’m using it in the future. I like feeling better. Don’t you?

8 responses to “Why I’m Cutting Back on Social Media as an Indie Author”

  1. Shari –
    Thank you for sharing your story! I hope you are healthy again and doing well! Like so many, I use social media to market my company and support others doing the same, but I have found myself cutting my intake back to things that bring me joy. It doesn’t prevent all of the negativity from getting in, but it sure helps.
    The way I look at it, if I wouldn’t let someone I don’t really like into my house to brag about their accomplishments or yell hateful things, I’m not going to let them into my social media feeds either.
    Be well!

  2. Shari, thank you for this raw account of your physical and mental health and your resulting introspection. Like you, conducting social media and digital marketing is part of my day job. And, like you, I find social media on a personal level can trigger dark moods and even depression. I’m glad you’re cognizant of this and are calibrating appropriately. As for me, I closed my Facebook account, which was hard, because a lot of my writer friends were there. I still go on Twitter every day, but I’ve stopped following or have muted more toxic feeds, and added in a lot of cat and other animal feeds to soften the content. I’m not currently marketing any creative work, so I don’t have to worry about that angle, but it’s a real issue. For now, focus on your health, family and friends, and know that there are people who want the best for you.

    1. Thank you Patrick, for your kind words and sentiments. I actually did contemplate closing my Facebook account altogether, but I decided against it because I’m connected to some friends who live far away, and I didn’t want to lose touch. But I totally see why you did it! It has felt like a pile of bricks has lifted off my shoulders a bit. Thank you for sharing your experience with me, too.

  3. I quit social media for 6 months over the same reasons. I was anxious on AND off twitter. I became codependent on constant posting, sharing, replying, etc. The 6-month cleanse I took was absolutely freeing. I read 3 books that first month off!

    Of course, as a blogger you need ways to self-promote and admittedly that’s been harder to do without twitter – which was my biggest source of clicks. So I’ve found myself back on the platform and I’m learning how to self-regulate daily. Frankly, we should all be cutting back. Even just a constant assessment of why we’re on social media helps tremendously. It’s a tricky balance, but for the sake of our mental health I think it’s worth the discipline.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! Wow, six whole months off social media completely, that’s impressive. I can absolutely imagine it must have been a freeing feeling. I definitely feel more free in many ways since drastically cutting back, as well.

      1. Oh, I’m not gonna lie, those first 2 weeks were BRUTAL. Like, full on withdrawals. I then sought to get rid of the “habit” by substituting others like reading more, putting the gym membership to use, etc. In cutting back I think it’s important to identify it as a habit because otherwise we view social media as recreation thus no real impact on us. But it does, and you never realize how much until you try playing cold turkey lol

  4. I’ve had the same experience. I left Facebook in October and handed my author Twitter account to my wife to manage instead. I’ve been much happier without all the social media noise in my life.

    1. Very interesting, Michael! I think it really speaks volumes about the role social media has played in our lives individually, but also societally. Thank you for sharing your experience with me.

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