My 40-Day Social Media and Dating App Fast

I’ve kinda sorta really nearly fully had enough.

I live a lot of my life out on a computer, and after some serious over-eating, it’s time for a fast.

As a writer, I work from home, spending the majority of my time connecting with those I write about, the editors I write for, and the audience who read my work through email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I produce and co-host Love Bites Radio, which requires booking guests (email), researching their pasts (Internet), writing the show’s preview for our website (WordPress) and then uploading it to Heritage Radio so that the engineer has it (Google Sheets), adding the show’s link to that WordPress page post-show, scheduling out Facebook and Twitter posts throughout the next week (Hootsuite), regularly keeping up with those platforms and Instagram, and then doing it all over again for the following guest.

I meet men (even when I don’t feel like it because, ya know, dating show host and all) via OKCupid, Tinder, and Bumble. If something goes beyond a swipe and a message, it goes to text. 90% of the time, those never make it to an IRL date. Men ghost all the time. The lack of etiquette is ridiculous.

And then there’s keeping up with friends and family via Facebook. Let’s just say that the current election and recent horrific shooting in Orlando brings out the best in people… and the worst.

These pepper my day. I wake up, and groggily click through my phone until I’m pert enough to make coffee. That phone comes with me to the bathroom while I shower, first cycling through Pandora stand-up comedians (plug in Jim Gaffigan or Kathleen Madigan and you’re welcome), and then spinning through Facebook while I dry my (long) hair. It comes when I walk my dog; while I do some hippie sky-and-tree-gazing during that peaceful time, I also catch up on texts or those swiping apps. The hours working on the computer follow, where an obnoxiously slowly loading page might mean just a glance at an interesting-looking article the NY Times put on their Facebook or Twitter feed… which sends me down the rabbit hole. And then there are the empty nights, where I’m beyond burnt out and in a lot of pain (I have a history of Lyme disease and many lingering symptoms), where I’m feeling really lonely and reach out to connect with people through all the same places I’ve been scrolling through for the past 12 hours already.

I work a lot, and have a full and wonderful social life. I’m very good at being with people in the flesh without my phone in hand. But all of this “connecting” is making me feel really unconnected. I can’t have the kind of conversations online that I want to have in person. I’m not fully immersed in what I’m reading, seeing, listening to or experiencing. My world has become too two-dimensional. It’s too easy to distract myself from the awkward, and the challenging, and the overwhelming.

I’ve sorta really kinda fully had enough of it.

So starting tomorrow, I’m done.

For 40 biblical days, I’m giving up Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, OKCupid, Bumble, and Tinder. Because my relevance as a writer means people have to find and read my pieces, I’ll post them via Hootsuite when they’ve been published, but I won’t go on the sites themselves or interact with the response. When a Love Bites show closes out, I’ll do the same. But other than that… I’m on summer vacation, baby.

In these 40 days, I’ll spend a few days with my mom in Newport and fly solo to Barcelona for the very first time. Instead of bored airport scrolling, I’ll sit and people watch or read one of the books always with me instead. Rather than madly snapping photos for sharing, I’ll snap them for treasuring, or just let my eyes breathe in the memories to hold them close. I’ll turn 35, and not continually check how many people wish me love on Facebook; instead I’ll focus on the day I’m living, fully committing to the self-reflection I enjoy on this day every year.

I expect periods of feeling alone and lonely, but instead of running away into a digital world for comfort, I’ll face and embrace them.

I expect periods of feeling left out of the world, and so I’ll work to connect even more with the world directly in front of me.

I expect minutes and hours of time now unfilled that I can relish filling with the long list of things I love to do, and people I love to be with.

I expect having to be a bit braver in making connections with new folks, since the digital world will no longer do it for me.

Because I’m a writer and radio host and observing human nature is my passion, I expect a lot of journaling. I expect writing about this experience when it has passed, and talking about it when we kick of the next season of the radio show exploring how technology affects romantic relationships, and interviewing experts on their thoughts.  But this isn’t the purpose, or the goal.

So what is the purpose? What is my goal?

I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to wait and share that on the 41st day.

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