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Stories

I Quit Social Media for 2 Weeks – Here’s what Happened

Things didn’t change overnight, but they did, eventually. Last month I subjected myself on a 2-week social-media detox in which I removed apps on my phone, didn’t open them even on my computer, and left chat groups. The reason, as narrated in a separate article, had something to do with the fact that I was wasting my time doing things that have low value, thus affecting my creative process. I needed a reboot; it was a long time coming. One day, I quit social media cold turkey. So what happened after my 2-week social media detox?

How Social Media Affected my Creative Process

I stopped wasting time spent on chatting

Apparently, I had no better use of my time because in chat groups I am the most active member. Before, I would constantly check my Facebook messenger and if it’s quiet, I’m going to initiate a conversation. I never run out of things to say; the opposite of how I am in person where more often than not, I just listen instead of expend all my energy doing all the talking. When I refrained from using Facebook, my virtual social life stopped consequently. It freed up my time, opening my eyes to the fact that I spend more hours than what’s necessary just talking with people on the other side of the screen.  

I got back to reading books

I used to be the girl who always had a book in hand. I was a bookworm; I could finish a book in one sitting and I could surpass the reading goal that I set for myself on Goodreads. It gradually changed over the years as I become powerless to resist the lure of social media. Instead of finishing a book, I would be on Facebook or Instagram liking photos and posts, watching videos, and conversing with people. My Currently Reading list on Goodreads was not updated for a very long time. I lost interest in purchasing new books, and the actual books that I own have collected dust.

During my detox one of the first things that I did was to pick up a book. Now that I eliminated the biggest distraction, I suddenly had free time. But the drive to finish a book wasn’t there instantly; I had to build up the momentum. I started by reading during my break-time at work and just before I go to sleep. Now, I read a book every chance I get. I finished the books that I stopped reading halfway before, and I downloaded new e-books on my phone. Not only did I get that sweet sense of accomplishment from completing something, I also get to learn. Win win!

I finished the backlog on my blog

All of a sudden, I was able to deal with the backlog in my blog. I penned the pending stories, edited, and published them here. The only thing that I wasn’t able to do in this process is the social media promotion. Nevertheless, I felt accomplished and satisfied. By consistently producing new contents, the stat of my blog significantly increased. For quite some time I couldn’t get past 30,000 views, but during this period, the views shoot to over 60,000.

I continued writing a story

Last year, I was commissioned to write a story for a mobile game, a project that I couldn’t commit to 100%. Admittedly, this task was the most daunting and difficult to get back to so for days, I dilly-dallied on it, almost afraid to get it started. It doesn’t help that I have already forgotten some details in the story.

After a few days, I muted the monkey inside my head and just did it. First, I reread the previous chapters to refresh my memory. Next, I created a tracker of all characters and listed down their physical attributes and characteristics. Then I updated the layout and format of all the documents, even went as far as putting a graphic on the first page for aesthetic purposes. All these efforts have eventually paid off because it put me in the zone and motivated me to write again.

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It’s not easy writing a genre (in this case, dystopian fiction) in which I am not an expert of and I’d be lying if I say I didn’t think about quitting. Fortunately, my will to finish this is stronger than the urge to quit. It helps that I always remind myself that great is not supposed to be easy.

2017: The Year We Should Stop Asking for Easy

I’m able to focus with work

Our company is lax on accessing non-work related sites, which does not help my already distracted mind. I had many moments when I would be on social media instead of getting my work done. Looking back, I think it’s one of the reasons I delivered half-baked jobs, thus triggering criticisms from my boss.  

During the break, I succeeded in breaking this unhealthy habit allowing me to get things done fast and efficiently. Hours passed by without me knowing it and this time it’s because I was truly busy with work. The effort has paid off, if the positive feedback of my boss and peers are any indication.

The Takeaways

I have always been a restless person; easily distracted, quickly bored. It’s one of the reasons I find social media so appealing because it offers endless options to cure my boredom. It’s good in a way that I have become social media savvy, which is almost a requirement in blogging. But as they say, anything done in excess is bad for you and this dependence is no exception. My self-imposed “rehabilitation” made me realize a lot of things.

  • I waste so much of my time: On chatting alone, I spare a big chunk of my time, which I could have spent being productive.
  • I mistook acquaintanceship for friendship: I’ve been quite sociable in the last few years that blurred the line between friends and acquaintances; in 2 weeks time I remembered the difference between the two. In my self-exile I only communicated with people who truly matter to me and I was okay with it. I stopped feeling like I needed to be present in the lives of my friends constantly.
  • I can do it: I thought that there is no way I could neglect my social media accounts because I’m a blogger; guess I was wrong. 

2 weeks is a short time but it was enough to jump start my goal to redirect my priorities. Today, I can better manage my day; I only give a certain amount of time for social media and I do not neglect my responsibilities. At work, I make sure that I finish my job first before anything else. Taking away my biggest distraction allowed me to accomplish things. 

It also helped me see what truly matters. That, for me, is the biggest reward of this endeavor.

How about you? Have you tried pulling the social media plug?  

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Events Philippines Travel

5th Banahaw Tugtugan – The Music Festival that almost didn’t Happen

Normally I wouldn’t mind not having a network signal in a remote area; this was not one of those moments. First, I wanted to consult a lawyer or someone from my contacts at the PSG. Second, I wanted to consult Google because I wanna know if DENR has the right to do what they did last weekend. You see, the road leading up to Bangkong Kahoy Valley was blocked off by some people from DENR, barring campers and Banahaw Tugtugan performers from getting in. The people who are on foot have no trouble getting in, but those who came with vehicles, like my friends and I were virtually disallowed to pass through. We watched the commotion, we came there for the 5th Banahaw Tugtugan, the music festival that almost didn’t happen because of this unnecessary dispute.

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Cambodia Coffee

Cafe Central, a Lovely Cafe at the Heart of Pub Street

There are many things to do in Pub Street, the tourist-infested market in Siem Reap, Cambodia. You can go on a food trip, you can shop for some souvenirs, and the most recommended activity, go out at night, hang out at some bars, drink, and flirt with someone. I’ve done everything but the last activity to the dismay of my friends. “No wonder you’re single,” they told me. I’ve lived 30 years hearing the same comment, I don’t get offended anymore. I did frequent the market in my short time there doing what I consider as my idea of fun; hanging out at Cafe Central.

The hostel I stayed in was just a few meters away from the Pub Street. I had two days to kill and I spent it feeling like a local in which I slept, went out, and walked around the neighborhood. [Read: A Nice Hostel in Siem Reap – Luxury Concept Hostel]

The cafe has big windows that lets natural light in. The walls and the pillars are covered in bricks. It looks lovely in the night as it is in the morning and very popular to tourists. It was interesting to watch people come and go and wonder about what they are going to do with the rest of the day.

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Cafe Central Pub Street

I usually go there in the afternoon to kill time with a book in hand, accompanied by a cup of flat white. At one time I ordered a vanilla gelato, which taste I can no longer remember. In Cambodia, you can pay in US Dollar. Paying in dollars suspended the reality that I was spending Php 50 for every 1 dollar. I treated 1 dollar as 1 peso. I went to this cafe not really caring about how much I was spending. That for every coffee that I ordered I wasn’t spending 3 but 150 pesos. [Read: The Good Samaritan and the Temples of Siem Reap]

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The weather, the physical attributes of the locals, and the general looks of the streets and infrastructures made it easy to imagine that I wasn’t in another country. Cambodians look a bit look like my people. I realized I could easily blend in. I’d been to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Taiwan and people mistake me for a local. The only exception was Japan, though the fact I was in a blogger fam trip might have something to do with it. We were in a group and how we moved and talked practically screamed we’re tourists.

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I remember laughing at myself that I had to go to Cambodia to discover a cafe for myself. Before Cambodia, I was in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, where there’s cafe in every corner of the street. But at least I was able to try the famous iced Vietnamese coffee from the street, which to me makes the experience more raw and authentic. [Read: Braving the Streets of Ho Chi Minh]

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This happened in 2014, two years ago, when I first traveled abroad. I proved to myself that I don’t need a companion to travel and I sure as hell don’t need to party to have fun. Just being in that cafe, watching people, being alone with my thoughts, were enough for me.

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