Should I Return to Social Media? - Thoughts of a Grief Blogger

It has been ten years since I first started blogging. During this time, my relationship with social media has been rocky. I have taken multiple extensive breaks from social media and I have even permanently deleted a few accounts. As I approach the 1-year mark since I “kinda-sorta” left social media for the umpteenth time, I cannot help but wonder if it is even worth returning to it. In today’s blog post, I’d like to discuss my relationship with social media as a grief blogger (and a writer in general), feedback on my current break and what I plan on doing moving forward. Perhaps you’ve been wondering the same thing, so I hope this helps you. It’s a tad longer than my regular posts, but it's worth the read. Enjoy!



My relationship with social media as a grief blogger (and writer in general)

First and foremost, I’m an introvert, so social media is inherently intimidating for me. In fact, the older I get the more intimidating it feels. Although I love creating digital content for social media (and I think I am fairly good at it), I find the socialising and networking bit quite irksome and uncomfortable. Then comes the aspect of mental health which is a big deal for me and for many others. I find that social media has a way of negatively affecting my mental health. It makes me feel like an outsider; like I don’t belong. The constant sharing of carefully curated content, whether for personal reasons or for business, is tiring. There’s also the aspect of distraction and poor use of the time that could be spent creating real memories with my loved ones rather than nitpicking pieces of my life that fit the overall esthetic and unspoken social exigencies of social media.


Don’t get me wrong, social media hasn’t been all that bad to me. It has indeed helped me reach a few people and find other grief bloggers that have helped me on my own journey. It has helped me see that I am not alone and that many others, like myself, are trying to normalise grief by daring to be vulnerable online and sharing their experiences. I have learnt so much from others and I have increased my blog’s visibility. The thing is, social media is increasingly becoming an ugly numbers game with complicated algorithms which require users to spend more time (amongst other things) on the apps which inevitably brings me back to the issues I listed before.


I write for myself because it feels good to write; but ultimately, I publish what I write because I would like to inspire others with my own life experiences. This means that visibility is important to me even though I do not particularly write for financial gain. The problem is so many sources online stress the importance of having a social media presence in order to increase visibility as a writer/blogger. Yikes! This is why I keep returning to social media no matter how awful it makes me feel. I love what I do, and I want to keep doing what I do, but at what cost?



Feedback on my current social media break

As usual, in early 2021 I began to feel progressively depressed and stressed as a direct result of my 2020 return to social media. As I continued to recognise the signs of increasingly poor mental health, I knew that I needed yet another break from social media. This was a difficult realisation to come to because I had just started finding my “online feet” again and I felt like I was doing well in establishing my brand as “Orphan Writes”. Also, I was a part of an online community of grievers on Instagram who inspired me and helped me through many emotional challenges. But in spite of these good things, I knew that staying on social media any longer would be dangerous for my health. I was suffocating. So, around July, I decided to leave social media, yet again, indefinitely.


During my break, I continued writing and publishing blog posts. In fact, before announcing my break (click here to read more about it) I went ahead and scheduled blog posts and social media posts for the rest of 2021. I activated an automatic response on Instagram and Facebook asking people to contact me via email and to subscribe to my blog. Rather than deleting my pages, I wanted to keep my online presence without having to be online. It was a gamble, but it was worth the try.


I must say, my break has been an absolute breath of fresh air! This has certainly been the best break I have ever taken because I didn’t just leave social media, but I also put in place mechanisms to actively address my depression and anxiety. I started therapy (perhaps I’ll write about that in the future), began working on my spirituality and focused on being intentional with the kind of energy that I allowed around me. It has truly been a life-changing experience! In addition to not having to worry about social media and how it makes me feel, I have learnt so much about myself and about what I want for my life. I’ve been able to identify those who are real friends versus those who just connected with me on social media for the sake of knowing what I was up to. I spent quality time with my husband and daughter. I even completed my academic dissertation in a record amount of time (well, it’s a personal record). I feel energized and refreshed.



Will I return to social media?

Now that it’s almost been a year, I am wondering if it is worth going back to social media at all. On the one hand, being off social media has helped me thrive in my personal life, but on the other hand, I fear that my writing career has or will suffer.


I recently went to Facebook to schedule two or three posts. I logged in with my computer, went straight to my page without scrolling, quickly scheduled my posts and logged right off. I then tried to log onto my Instagram page, but it seems that Instagram has deleted my profile. Oddly enough, I’m actually quite happy about it! I do not regret the one thousand and something followers I had gained and I do not regret the content I had spent hours creating. In fact, could Instagram deleting my page be a sign that I shouldn’t return at all?


I have done a lot of reading about how to grow a blog without social media. I think I am 98% sure that I will probably never return to using Instagram again. The remaining 2% is simply there because of my uncertainties regarding my career. As for Facebook, I don’t know. I haven’t had the app on my phone for three or four years, so for now I am happy with logging on with my computer to quickly schedule posts. For YouTube (because it can be considered a social media site), I don’t mind it at all. I will continue posting when I can and when I feel like it - nothing formal for now.



Conclusion

I don’t know if I’ll ever actively return to using social media. I am still trying to figure out what the best formula is for me as an individual and as a blogger/writer. Being off social media has been so beneficial, and combining the detox with other lifestyle changes has exceeded my expectations.


My writing career means the world to me, so I cannot say for sure that I am done with social media for good. My hope is that someday I find a balance that is not detrimental to my mental health and that allows me to grow my brand all at the same time. For now, I’ll continue writing and publishing, all while researching a formula that works for me. When I find it, I will let you know.


Thanks for reading. I hope this has given you some food for thought. If you have any questions about my journey with (and without) social media, or you just want to share your thoughts, please drop me a message below or email me at orphanwrites@gmail.com


Peace & love, always…


Stella