As part of living in alignment with the seasons and natural cycles of nature, each winter, in accordance with the energies of hibernation and going within, I stop using most social media. These periods in my life allow for deeper introspection, reflection, connection with the Earth, and some good old-fashioned offline fun and play, including travel and adventure.

Given the nature of my online work, my digital breaks aren’t fully 100% but stepping away from much of the online space for weeks and months at a time does wonder for re-establishing my clarity and vision for the next steps of my path. I love starting each new year with a lighter and fresher perspective, not bogged down by the heavy and draining energies that come with most social media activity and interactions.

After this winter’s social media break, I emerged with more clarity than ever and less interest in continuing with much of social media than ever, especially Facebook. The following were the three big takeaways that became very apparent to me during this period:

1. The severely distracting world of social media erodes our human potential.

Today, most people spend time online from the early hours of each day, throughout many parts of the day, and right into the final hours of the day before going to sleep. Some even wake up to check notifications throughout the night, preventing themselves from getting a proper night’s rest and much-needed mental break. Most of the information shared on social media is nothing more than utter nonsense and drama aimed at keeping people hooked and addicted, draining their physical, mental, and emotional energy in the process. All those distractions eat away at all parts of our wellbeing and hold us back from our greatest human potential.

2. The world of social media provides a constant regurgitation of meaningless distractions.

This reality is so very cyclical, so much so that when one steps away to observe it all, it feels comical to see that we are acting not much different than rodents on hamster wheels. The old is new, and the new is old, and for us humans, it comes packaged just differently enough to keep us coming back for more. Most people don’t seem to notice or care; they just go around and around, unconsciously and sometimes consciously, amusing themselves with the same old garbage, playing right along with it all, and never actually moving forward in any effective or meaningful way.

3. Your tribe defines your habits and life quality.

Out of our “social politeness” and “political correctness,” we aim to please and fit in while neglecting our personal boundaries and priorities. This isn’t just a social media problem but a general problem that is rampant in most people’s offline relationships as well. However, it gets greatly amplified on social media as we accept and reciprocate connections that, more often than not, go completely against our better judgment and wellbeing. This exposes us to so much drama and content that we would otherwise not be subjected to and dilutes our inner knowing and ability to make our own choices. Today, most people seem incapable of making decisions without running them past their contacts or audiences on social media. “Should I quit my job? Should I leave that partner? Should I go on that diet? What should I eat? How should I parent? What color should I paint my walls?” And on and on it goes. While some will argue that others’ input is valuable, it stopped being valuable as soon as it overwhelmed your ability to think for yourself. What could have been valuable under normal living conditions in the past, where people had a handful of close and trusted people in their life to consult, has today become a disability of our critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.

Thus, after coming away from social media breaks, instead of having a renewed interest in re-connecting and sharing my creativity online through social media posts, I am more drawn to retreating inwards and away from it all. The space to think freely, the clarity of mind, and the absurdity of it all are all so palpable and desirable. I know more than ever where my priorities lie and I choose to honor them by liberating myself from the noise and distractions that come with most social media usage. I choose to be present for myself and those closest to me in my life in meaningful ways. I choose to live my life looking up and out, not down, or into devices that create illusions and delusions for our mind.

May you, too, gift yourself the opportunity to see, hear, and feel fully and freely, beyond the obstructions that social media creates.