On turning down the volume: why I am cutting down on social media | Long Island Photographer

One of my goals for this year is to simplify. A big part of this for me is reducing screen time - which in my case, is the internet and social media. There are a lot of ways I am attempting to implement this - closing windows when I am done with them, limiting my time online, turning off notifications, deleting apps, clearing my RSS feed at the end of each day.

Why am I doing this? First and foremost because with the addition to our family later this year, I know my time is going to be very limited, so I want to use the free time I do find productively and not stress myself out unnecessarily over things that don't matter - like whether or not I'm caught up on my Twitter feed or not.

Secondly, because I miss all the things I used to find more time to do - like reading books and knitting. Exercising. Being outside. I could blame the lack of free time on having kids, but really that is a far smaller part of the equation than the growing presence of the internet and social media and smart phones in my life. I used to read books on my train commutes. Now I mindlessly stare at my iPad. I don't like it. And I want to change the habit that this has become.

Thirdly, I want to reconnect, or spend more time connecting with the people that are physically here in my life. I joined a lot of social media sites - Facebook and Twitter are the two big ones - when I was on tour, away from home and lonely. Now I'm home. I have an awesome family. I have friends right here in town that I want to spend more time with. This is not to say that I haven't gained a lot from Facebook and Twitter. Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with a lot of old friends that I otherwise probably would have lost track of. It enables me to have quick daily interactions with long distance family and friends. Twitter has offered me a wealth of information about various topics like parenting and cooking from women who are experiencing the same things I am.

Despite those positive elements of social media, however, I feel like I am in a very different place now in my life than I was five years ago. I've experienced a lot in those five years - travel, relationships, motherhood, work - and I've come out on the other side a much more centered and self-assured person because of it. So, its time to let go of some of the safety nets. 

I also feel, on the more negative side,  like the chatter of social media is just getting louder and louder, if that makes any sense at all, and I no longer want to really hear it. I like reading informational blog posts, and I take from them what I want to and ignore what I disagree with. But, the constant debate in comments and "my way is the right way", particularly when it comes to parenting or politics, has me at the end of my rope. I just don't want that negativity, condescension and shaming anywhere near me anymore. And sometimes I find myself getting caught up in it, too, and that makes me sick. I do not want to go there. So I'm pulling away from it all. I am turning the volume of it all way, way down.

I'm deleting my Twitter accounts. I'll check in on Facebook once or twice a day to keep up with my long distance pals. I'll still be on Flickr everyday. I find Flickr such a source of inspiration and creativity, I don't think I'll ever abandon it (Do you hear that Flickr? So don't go messing with your site too much, okay??). I'll keep on blogging because I love it. But I won't be constantly connected - I'll probably check in once in the morning and once at night. We've started a "no cell phone" rule backstage at work, and already I'm reading more books rather than doing the endless Facebook-Twitter-Gmail cycle over and over again on my phone. It is quite frankly, a relief.

So if you want to keep in touch, you can primarily find me on Flickr (Francesca Russell) or here on my blog. I also post here and there on Instagram. If you want my email address, send me a Flickr mail or Facebook message and if I "know" you online I'll give it to you. I'm not into g-chat or anything like that, but I like exchanging emails. Friends, text me. Let's chat that way. The phone is hard. Toddlers don't like moms talking on the phone.

Thanks, all. I'll catch ya on the flip side.