Why I Quit Social Media
Last year I attended the STORY conference here in Nashville, and it was two days of creative healing and inspiration that rocked my world. I got to attend a breakout session by Ally Fallon, a writer who helps others tell their stories honestly—someone I deeply respect and admire.
Because she helps people write books, she’s been in and around the publishing industry for years now, and she shared with us some advice that’s she heard over and over from professionals in that industry: “Grow your platform.”
My ears perked up at that familiar and daunting line, and I thought, No, not another person telling me what I already hate to hear.
But she didn’t stop there. She said, “It is the greatest tragedy that we tell writers to grow their platform before they do their art.” (Me: Wait, what?) She continued, “Because focusing on growing your platform is the very antithesis of making your art.”
I almost crumpled out of my chair into a heap of tears onto the floor. I’d never before heard a creative, much less a successful creative, talk about art and creativity that way.
She encouraged us to simply focus on our art, to write, to tell stories. Forget the platform building.
Social media has always been a pain point for me. Not only is there pressure to portray a perfect, beautiful life, but I also felt so much pressure to make something out of social media as a creative and a writer. I had sought the advice of others, and they all said the same thing: I needed to grow and cultivate an audience, build a platform, get eyes on my writing.
From day one, the entirety of my being has thrashed within itself at the thought of using my creative energy to build some kind of digital image with which people could connect. But I thought I just had to deal with the pressure and tension because that’s what it would take to achieve my goals.
Then I heard Ally’s words of wisdom. Maybe there could be another way.
That was six months ago.
It took another six months for me to summon the courage to take her advice—to focus on my art first—because a part of me still believed that social media was the only way forward in my growth as a writer.
At the turn of the new year, my soul itched with a desire to embrace radical living. I looked around and saw how much the mediocrity of my life was weighing me down and I felt hot desperation surge through my soul. I wanted to make a change and begin living radically in some way.
I just had no clue where to start.
And then I picked up Shauna Niequist’s book, Present Over Perfect.
I was sitting in the bathtub, surrounded by candles and a dripping glass of ice cold seltzer water, when I read these words:
"When you allow other people to determine your best choices; when you allow yourself to be carried along by what other people think your life should be, could be, must be; when you hand them the pen and tell them to write your story, you don't get the pen back. Not easily anyway. . .
. . .Be careful how much of yourself you give away, even with the best of intentions. There are things you cannot get back, things that God has not asked you to sacrifice."
And the first thing that slammed into my head and almost knocked me underwater was this: I want to quit social media.
As Shauna's warning flooded over me, I realized, with deep sadness, that I had let the advice from others dictate what I did with my life. Because someone had told me that social media was the most important thing I could build, the only avenue toward my goals, I believed them and blindly followed their advice despite the resistance in my soul.
So there in the bathtub, I let that thought linger and soak with me. Even as the doubts kept flooding in, I let that first, initial response of mine stay. I turned it over in my hands, looked at it from every possible angle.
Maybe I really could quit.
I left the bathtub and ran to tell Joshua.
Giving myself permission to deny this seemingly important social and professional responsibility caused such a release in my heart, that I couldn’t even finish reading Shauna’s words to him before I collapsed in tears.
See, for so long, I believed that social media was the only way forward, the only way to advance to my dreams, especially in this booming digital age. And yes, it is one way forward. Yes, it has worked for others.
But for me, there has to be another way.
At least, that’s what I’m betting on by taking a year off. And you know what, even if there isn’t another way, well then, those goals and dreams that drove me to social media truly aren’t worth it. Because, here’s where I’m at: I would rather write in solitude for the rest of my life and no one ever see my work ever again than live another day with a constant, unbearable pressure to make my social media presence matter, to bank the worth of my creative existence on the success I gain in those mediums. It truly is not worth it anymore.
Indeed, it would be too great a tragedy to gain the whole world only to lose my soul in the process.
P.S. My 12-month social media hiatus begins on April 1, 2018. Would you be willing to join me on this journey as my accountability and support? Click here to sign up and stay connected.