My Social Media Break, Re-Finding God, and my new Subscriber Chat
a post I did not expect to write.
I sat down to write a short little post, both to tell you that I miss the quick messiness of social media, and to tell you about my subscriber chat over on the substack app (more on that below), but a longer post decided to be written instead…
I just counted, and I’ve been off instagram for… just over 6 weeks.
When friends have asked me how the break is going, I don’t even know how to answer. “Oh, it’s going fine. I don’t even really think about it that much.”
It’s true. It is weird. I expected it to be harder. I expected to miss it more. Or… I expected to feel… different… or to become fully creatively unblocked… or something. Maybe even have a huge epiphany about life and start anew.
But instead, this instagram break hasn’t felt like… anything. I often forget it’s happening at all. After the first few days, once my thumb stopped compulsively going to the place where the instagram icon was, I actually stopped thinking about it altogether.
Sure, sometimes Molly (my dog) will be doing something cute, and I think, oh that’d be nice to share. More often, I’ll have a small little thought or update that’s absurd or silly, that would never become a full substack post, and never be something I’d email to you, and I wish I could share it quickly, and let it fade away in 24 hours on instagram stories. And that’s the part I miss the most. But other than that… life is just… trucking right along.
And… I don’t feel dramatically different or better. At least, I don’t think?
Actually, maybe it’s helping
Now that I think about it… I don’t have the big ups and downs like I used to have over people’s comments or responses to my stories. I used to get sent into a heart-pumping, total-body nervous system reaction to some of the angrier things people would send me. But now, there are no angry DMs or comments to field. No more checking to see if someone hates me today. No more stress over certain messages on instagram.
That was actually a big reason I knew I needed a break.
So, I guess… that is good. Solidly good. Funny that I didn’t even realize this change until now, when I forced myself to sit down and write about how my instagram break is totally anti-climactic.
(And hey, maybe getting off that emotional roller coaster actually helped my nervous system enough to stop having restless legs at night… maybe that’s the thing that cured me after all. Hmmmm.)
So, that’s a plus. A big plus.
The Trolling Bible App
I also put a Bible app on my phone, in instagram’s place, mostly to troll myself. A Christian friend of mine said she was going to put her Bible App in instagram’s place while she took her instagram break alongside me. After quickly judging her sweet and simple little brain because how could anyone actually read the Bible, let alone a Bible app, I downloaded a Bible app too, with no intention of actually reading it. It was just so that every time I went to open up instagram, I found myself staring at a Bible verse that I didn’t understand. That’s what trained my thumb to stop opening instagram/the Bible.
But maybe I also put it on my phone subconsciously, because deep down, I’ve been feeling like… I need God, or something. So, putting the Bible app on my phone was a joke. And it also was not a joke. It was a reminder: Something is very off in my life right now, and I am not coping very well, and something has got to give. I’ve been feeling this way, this “I need God” feeling, for 4 years actually. But the feeling has amped up exponentially these last two and a half years.
About six years ago, when I was chronically ill and chronically fatigued, sometimes all I could do, was lay in bed and pray. I asked for help, I asked for guidance. And even through my misery, I felt …connected. And then, when I eventually started feeling physically better a few years later, I stopped taking that time to connect, because I wasn’t stuck in bed anymore. But eventually I noticed something was off, and I started saying to myself: I feel so disconnected from… God. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t get myself to take the time to “connect.” Back then, I disliked the word God, it was too… religious, or something. I don’t know. I hated all the words. But ‘feeling disconnected from God’ is the only way I could describe it.
I know this won’t resonate with everyone. I know that some people don’t believe in anything at all, but I’ve always believed. I just didn’t know exactly what version of God I believed in. It changed from year to year. And from self-help book to self-help book. It waxed and waned. Sometimes I forgot entirely that I believed in anything at all, but I always did believe.
So, anyway, in a strange turn of events (that would take too long to explain in this post), I actually started reading the Bible app. And praying again. I’ve never read the Bible in my life, and I never, ever intended to. I actually think I may have thrown out the Bible that came with my Fiat car a few years ago, back when I was obsessed with decluttering.
Turns out, the Bible is extremely bizarre. But even more bizarre, is that I’m still reading it. And I have a strange and very strong fascination with it. I have a lot of thoughts, critiques, and questions, and lots of resistance too. And a lot of my thoughts are only partially formed. It’s too confusing to even explain any of it yet. Even to myself.
But last night, I was reading “Romans” for the first time, on my Bible app — an app that was just meant to troll me and my instagram addiction — and after reading just a few lines, I put my phone down and fell asleep in about two minutes. No restless legs.
(I used to lie in bed for two hours. Or drug myself to sleep with weed pills, and still lie in bed forever waiting to fall asleep.)
I’m not kidding, when I started writing this post, I was expecting to tell you that my instagram break has done nothing for me, and that I’m still confused and tired and creatively blocked.
But instead, I’m realizing that, probably thanks to my instagram break, I’m falling asleep easier, and I have replaced instagram with a reconnection to God.
This post has taken a turn I did not expect. And, I guess my instagram break has taken a turn I did not expect too, BUT, I am actually also writing to you to tell you that, despite everything, I do miss social media.
I miss social media
I do. I miss being able to share tiny things. I miss being able to share things that I’d never turn into a whole post on here. Social media is bite sized, and even if it’s ruined all of our attention spans, I actually miss the creative outlet that is social media. Maybe that’s actually my highest art form. Maybe instagram stories are my purest art. Also … these days, I’m too confused and scattered to be able to turn much into a full and cohesive post. So being able to share the half-formed thoughts is actually necessary, or I end up not sharing much at all. (I will still be writing here consistently! I love substack and want to grow how I use it, but I also miss social media.)
What I don’t miss, is my addiction to social media. And my compulsion to read DMs. I DO like hearing from people, but I don’t like what it did to my brain and nervous system. So I’m going to have to change that.
I WILL be returning to instagram, in 2 ish weeks, which will be completing my 2 full months. But I will have DM replies off (except for my friends) UNLESS I am deliberately running a saga where I am trying to get feedback/replies to repost, then I’ll turn them on for the day or duration of the saga.
I am going to try to become a “poster and ghoster.” I don’t want to become a slave to my notifications. I don’t even have instagram notifications on, I never have. But once I’m in the app, I’m a slave to checking.
HOWEVER, I’m also going to be trying out the substack “threads” feature.
Substack added a new feature and I want to try it.
It’s more like social media: quick posts that don’t get sent to email.
It can be used as a chat feature too (and I’m going to reserve that for paid subscribers after today’s chat free for all!).
How it works: On the substack app, you can see my stupid little updates, and then, if you’re a paid subscriber, you’ll be able to see exclusive posts and jump into a discussion. How often? I haven’t figured any of that out yet.
And again, it happens exclusively on the substack app (not by email!). It’s currently only on iOS but they’re gonna roll out android soon, allegedly.
Why is the chat just for paid subscribers? Well, one, it’s another perk and thank you for their support! But also, as I said above, the replies are most addictive part of instagram for me (why? Because I love it! But.... I need to keep it curtailed.)
To join the fun today, and jump in on the ONE chat I’m opening up to everyone, you’ll need to download the Substack app (again messages are sent via the app, not email). Turn on push notifications if you want to be notified every time there’s a new post...
Or… rather, turn them off if you don’t want phone notifications every time I write a stupid post asking why all my (store bought) carrots been tasting disgusting recently, etc
How to join the substack chat
Download the app by clicking this link or the button below. Chat is only on iOS for now, but chat is coming to the Android app soon.
Open the app and tap the Chat icon. It looks like two bubbles in the bottom bar, and you’ll see a row for my chat inside.
That’s it! Jump into my thread to say hi, and if you have any issues, check out Substack’s FAQ.
Alright that’s it chicquateetas.