Are we living or living through social media?

I always thought that participating in social media was exciting and a fun part of living with the Internet. I felt lucky to be alive during a time when I could see what family and friends were up to while living far away. I still feel lucky, but I also realize there's a downside to it all. Recently, I realized how much time it consumed. How much time it wasted. And how much it was keeping me from really living.

There was a time when I was checking social media or blogs at least 5 times a day. I didn't stay on for long but I was chronically checking and checking and checking. I checked it when I woke up, during my lunch break at work, when I got home from work and before I went to bed. When I became a stay-at-home mom it became worse. I would check it every couple of hours because I could. I am not exactly sure what I was so afraid I would miss out on but over time I noticed that I never felt fulfilled after checking it. I was spending so much time and energy on it and wasn't getting much back.

A week in northern Idaho gave me some perspective on all of this. We were at a lake house with my in-laws and the view from our cabin was breath-taking. But what ended up being the most amazing was the fact that we had no TV, no Internet and no cell phone service. By today's standards we were "roughing it" but I had never felt so alive.

I enjoyed valuable time spent with family and the great outdoors. We canoed, swam, sun-bathed, rode bikes, played games, talked, laughed, and prepared delicious plant-based meals. In essence, we lived. We experienced life instead of reading about it. Instead of thinking, I've got to get a picture of this for Instagram, I lived in the moment.

This experience helped me realize what I often give up to be up on the latest and greatest gossip or news. One of my favorite quotes is, "Wherever you are, be there." I repeat this to myself when I am tempted to get on my phone.

Today checking our phones or being on the internet has become a hobby. That should not be the case. There are so many things to experience. There is so much to learn and so many talents we could enjoy if we weren't always plugged in to social media.

Set social media limits for yourself. See if you can go a week without checking Facebook or a morning without the internet. Set goals for yourself. Decide on a new hobby or seek to develop a talent. You will find that life is much more fulfilling.

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