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
- Harvard Business Review published an article in 2017 that proves my point, “A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel.”
- So does this article from Healthline, “The FOMO is Real: How Social Media Increases Depression and Loneliness.”
- Perhaps that’s why a high-profile name, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, recently announced she’s cutting back on social media for her health.
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 Illusion, about a future society’s frightening overdependence on technology.
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?