LISTEN TO THE AUDIO VERSION!
Let's be honest: it takes an actual effort these days to avoid social media.
And it's not all bad! While I don't own a phone, I use all kinds of social media every single day for my business, and for this blog. I would have succeeded without it. But when I'm not using social media for business, I sometimes find myself in a sad loop of checking Facebook, email, Instagram, email, Twitter, Facebook... hoping to get some sort of gratification, some sort of meaningful interaction that makes me feel seen. It comes from boredom and a lack of mindfulness, acting out of habit, rather than intention.
We all want to feel seen, but social media? Not exactly the best way to do it. Ask yourself: what is it I'm looking for? What am I hoping to see or feel checking email and social media all day long? Is there some other way proactive way I can seek this feeling, rather than taking the passive approach?
I think so. Although as an introvert I personally struggle with getting myself out there, when I do, the results are always infinitely more satisfying than social media scrolling. Here are five ways you can feel connected without social media.
1. Head to a café or library
Chat with the barista. Sit across from someone in the café or library, and if you're really bold, strike up a conversation! If that's beyond you (which, let's be honest, it's beyond me), it's okay. You still get the benefit of spending time outside of your house, seeing and interacting with other people, and experiencing new things— and besides, people watching is kind of like social media, right?
If you have a game café, try heading there for a different experience. There are often events where you can join in with others and plays some games while you sip your latte— it's a pretty great time.
2. join free community events
Free community events are everywhere. Check out your city's website for events that might be happening in local parks and community centres. To get really local, search to see if your neighbourhood has it's own website; they often do, and mine hosts evens like movies in the park every week in the summer, which is such a great way to get to know people who actually live near you.
If you're still not having any luck, try checking out bulletin boards in libraries, coffee shops, and other specialty shops you enjoy (kitchen supply shops, bookshops, new age stores, etc).
3. Find your people
If you're feeling a little lonely, fear not— your people are out there. You just have to know where to look for them. Lately, I've been seeking out new groups using Meetup, a seriously awesome website where you can search for Meetup groups by location or interest. If you're not sure what you're into, check out what groups are local to you and try one out. A lot of the time there are groups that meet up for general activities like canoeing, walking, game nights, etc.
If there isn't a Meetup that suits your fancy, create one!
4. Game night + unplugged dinner
You don't necessarily need to get out to get connected! Invite over some friends (or snuggle up with your significant other) and have a game night and unplugged dinner: no cellphones allowed until the end of the night. Buzzkill, I know, but it makes such a difference with the kind of interactions you have with your friends and partners. Plus, sitting down with some candles and playing old-school board and card games is way underrated and much more fun than you might be expecting. If you're not sure what to play, try starting out with the outstanding classic Settlers of Catan.
Just trust me on this one.
5. Call a friend
I have a feeling that there are some people out there who don't actually realize that live calling was the cellphone's original purpose. I get it, though— I used to be one of those people who really hated talking on the phone, due to bad anxiety and a family full of prank-lovers.
But sometimes, it's so worth it to get on the phone with someone you haven't talked to in ages, someone who might not be living in the same city as you anymore and really have a good gab*. I bet you they will appreciate the thoughtfulness of a phone call a lot more than you might think.
* Caution: effective use may lead to coffee date.
If you really can't part with social media, at the very least you can hop on the trend-train and start playing Pokémon Go. ;)
What is your favourite way to connect without social media? Let us know in the comments, we need your genius!
p.s. Want to go pro? Disconnected: Why I Don't Have A Cell Phone And How It Changed My Life