September 17, 2013

Category: Real Talk

Stop Playing & Get Your Life! Why I Had To Do Me


Growing up I used to hear folks say, I have to get right with God. Well about a month ago I realized I had to get right with myself and being that I believe God lives in me, it made immediate sense. I wasn’t feeling very “social.” I was beginning to dread going on Facebook. The process felt more mechanical than experiential. I was going through the motions because I felt I had too. Even at home, if I wasn’t on my laptop I would be staring at the TV. I would just turn it on and not watch anything in particular, but would need to have the TV playing just to have the noise. And sometimes I would sit there looking at the screen, eyes glazed over,  absorbing all that noise for hours. When my mom would ask me what I had just watched I would have problems remembering. I was becoming a couch potato. Nah, my bad, I was a full-fledged couch tater. It’s hard to explain, but there was a need for me to be connected even if it was just to noise and a bunch of retweeting. It wasn’t so much a physical burn-out, which I’ve talked about before, but this was more social. I had grown tired of “liking” photos and waking-up with my Blackberry in hand (no judgment!). It was no longer gratifying and so I decided to go offline for 15 days. No Facebook, no Twitter, and no television.

The first few days were excruciating. I caught myself going on FB to see what people were saying, what they had accomplished, who they had seen. Twitter was even harder to abandon. It’s so easy to click on that blue bird on my Blackberry and get “Breaking News” and quick soundbytes on whatever scandal was brewing and again, to see what kinds of things folks were doing with their time. I was spending more time being nosey trying to find out what others were up to instead of living my life. “Grrrl, get your life,” I heard a voice in my head say. Maybe it was Yemaya cause She’s been on my back to get my act together and live my dreams in real time. So after three days of falling off the wagon, I took the apps off of my phone, called the cable company and had my service suspended for 30 days and before I knew it, the taste for social media gradually dissipated. I found other things to fill my time. One was definitely getting organized. I went through papers and magazines. I donated four hefty bags of clothes. I read a book. I started an art project that I’ve wanted to do for three years now. I applied to my first academic conference. I spent time with my mom. I talked on the phone for hours at a time with old and new friends. I went to the movies. I wrote and mailed two letters and two postcards. I went to three concerts– John Legend at Red Rooster, Shuggie Otis & Jose James at Summerstage and Afropunk in Brooklyn and was able to fully enjoy every minute of every show without live-tweeting, Instagramming, or shooting it for YouTube. I looked at all the folks holding up their iPhones and Galaxy’s taking pics and recording moments and it kinda made me sad. That was me just a month ago. Standing on the outside looking in, I could see the intimacy of the moment slipping on by folk. The magical connection between the artist and the art lover is lost when we don’t freely immerse our whole selves in that moment. And you know it’s rough out here for a playa when you can’t even stage dive at a Saul Williams performance without knocking someone’s humongous iPad on the ground. I think I took one pic that night and then I twirled, hollered my Banshee cat-call and joked around with my friend. T’was a good night. The best day was probably the day I went to Central Park and found this beautiful meadow. The picture above is from that hot, sunny day. I took off my sandals and let the grass settle under my feet (ala Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman”), plopped down on my sheet and read, slept, wrote in my journal, laughed and played Frisbee with strangers. I needed that. ALL of that! I had gotten right with myself again.

Now don’t get it twisted, I love social media. Hell, I make a living doing social media. But with that love, like most great loves, there is a cost. When we are connected all the time online, our off-line, non-virtual lives suffer. 875 Facebook friends and you haven’t broken bread with anyone all year? There has to be balance. Balance is my new life keyword. I thirst for it now. Seek it out with every new sunrise. I need it in my life. The beach, the park, my mommy’s house, Harlem cafés and bars all became my sanctuary for three weeks. Within sanctuary there is an ev-en-ing of spirit– a balance. Yeah, I missed a lot of FB updates, but what I gained in return made me love life in the face of rejection and challenge. It has shown me how to be grateful in hard times.

How do you find and maintain balance? Now that I’m back online I’m looking for ways to connect with people and myself that keep me rejuvenated. How do you curb your social media time? For me it’s so addictive and I can be online for hours. I need help to keep me walking the straight and narrow! Please post your suggestions. Now that I got my life, I want to hold on to it!

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10 Responses to “Stop Playing & Get Your Life! Why I Had To Do MeComment RSS feed

  • Rebecca
    September 17th, 2013 5:39 pm


  • Kyra Gaunt
    September 17th, 2013 7:19 pm

    Love 2

  • Dee
    September 17th, 2013 7:41 pm

    I think keeping SM off of your mobile apps helps a lot. The only time you can check updates is when you are in front of a computer and you are only going to spend a specific number of hours there. Also setting time limits (with timers) for the time you can spend online each day for not work related tasks.

  • Terri Wilkinson
    September 17th, 2013 8:34 pm

    Finding balance is something I strive for everyday. I limit my interactions on social media to only when I am in front of my computer (with occasional glimpses and updates on my phone when waiting for kids to end practice). Yoga~ definitely Yoga. It’s “me” time. And meditation~ whenever and wherever I can~ even for a minute. I also try and understand that the person I am during the school year has to be more connected to the day to day. This is hard but I know the reward comes in the summer. Once those flip flops are on, it’s on. I run to the woods. I happily fade into oblivion when it comes to updating and tweeting etc. It irritates some of my friends who wonder where I went, but then they remember who I am and they understand. I am just trying to keep it all together as I teeter on centered.

  • Lori
    September 17th, 2013 8:40 pm

    I adore this and I swear you are speaking to my life right now also except I haven’t taken an SM break. You have motivated me to do just that. 15 days sounds like such a long time but I think it is something I need to do also. Thank you for the inspiration Nada. Truly. I’m going to start on Friday cuz I feel like I have to wean myself off of it. Thanks again!

  • Sofia
    September 17th, 2013 9:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Nicole. It was inspiring to read, and it was heartening to learn how much life you lived in just two weeks offline. It’s such a tricky balance when social media is at once critical to your work and yet can take away from it. I actually came across a wonderful service called Rescue Time. I tell it I want to focus for a certain amount of time, and it BLOCKS my ass from any and all sites that it has identified as my time bandits. I kid you not. And it works. I’m finishing a book and set Rescue Time to allow me to focus for two hours. That bad boy did not let me get on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon… none of the sites that it had determined from analyzing my past usage I got lost in when nothing should be open but good ol’ Microsoft Word. But I do love the idea of removing social media apps from your phone. Lately I’ve gotten myself in the habit of just leaving the damn phone home every so often. I don’t need it at my cuzzo’s BBQ, especially when she only lives two blocks away. 😉

  • AliciaFiasco
    September 17th, 2013 11:56 pm

    Definitely disconnecting the apps on my phone did wonders to give me space from social media overdrive. I also recommend setting up play dates with friends and just leaving the phone in the bottom of the purse. I feel you on that living our experiences rather than recording everything. Sometimes it’s just better to save our memories naturally.

  • Ms Q
    September 19th, 2013 12:43 am

    Like others have said, I am only online when I’m in front of my computer…my phone is the opposite of smart! And I rarely use my phone (for calling, texting, etc) when I am with others; I like to stay focused on the moment I’m in. I will allow folks to “check-in” on Fb tagging me in the first moments when we are together, but then phones are down, letting the politickin’ begin!

  • theHotness
    September 22nd, 2013 10:19 am
    Author's Reply

    Thanks so much for all of these great ideas to digitally detox. I especially want to check that Rescue Time app– such a perfect name! We’re not saving time we’re “rescuing” it! Yep, pretty much.

  • Doni C
    September 24th, 2013 5:06 pm

    I love that you posted this! I learned this summer that one part of what you did is exactly what I have to have my family do from time to time…disconnect. Not from the world, just from anything that plugs in and charges up. I am really good about not turning anything on (TV) and ignoring the urge to scroll… But my husband is one of those creative geniuses whom the television holds captive and it works my nerves so badly because nothing gets done. So I disconnected the Direct TV this summer for two months. It was so nice! We had dinner together, talked together, laughed together… He accomplished so much. He wrote new songs, formed new musical relationships, had meetings, recorded songs, and the house chores were always done on time! I was so happy. I think “disconnecting” is going to become a way of life for me…maybe once every six or seven weeks for a whole week… IDK but I’ll work that out and get back to you. 🙂