Last year I went to see Freestyle Love Supreme, a hip-hop, improv, comedy musical group created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale. When my girlfriend and I arrived at the Greenwich House Theater on Barrow Street in New York City, free from children and work and husbands and so many other… things, we waited in a line of buzzing people to enter the theater. At the front door, they took our phones from us and locked them up in small cases—no recordings, no devices, and most brilliantly, no checking of any devices, even watches, was allowed.
I felt giddy. It turns out, being separated from your phone doesn’t feel like problem, it feels like freedom. The tether in my pocket was gone, and I could be right here, with people, full attention and absorption. The music overwhelmed, surrounded me. The innovation sank into me. Each line was a delight, and because it was improv, it was here—and then it wasn’t. My laughter felt larger, full-bodied, round. My face was open-mouthed with rapture and love and the full sensation of music, not just in my ears, but a part of me. To be honest, being away from my phone felt like being high.
I felt giddy. It turns out, being separated from your phone doesn’t feel like problem, it feels like freedom.
Do I sound like an addict? I’m sure I do. In a way, I was high. High on connection, on full experience, on presence. Being immersed in music and people and the here and now is divine. Yet every day, I steal away from the right now to cultivate an addiction to scrolling, to reading, to numbing myself away from reality in tiny bytes and bits. Yet for all intents and purposes, my behavior is considered normal among most of us. We aren’t aware how deeply saturated phones and social media are in our lives until the days when we take them away.
Take a summer social media sabbatical
So let’s take our phones away, or at least part of it. If you want to join me, I’ll be taking my summer sabbatical from social media this July, and enjoying the relative freedom of having my phone down for the rest of the summer months.
Every year, for the month of July, I take a social media sabbatical. Then, in August, I take a break from my podcast to make space for summer, recovery, and long-form writing. For what it’s worth, I also believe in taking at least a short winter hiatus for two weeks, and I’m trying to work in a February break, too, into the plans although I haven’t yet put a permanent spot on my calendar for it and this year is already sort of a doozy.
You can be consistent and consistently take breaks
You can be consistent and consistently take breaks.You don’t have to do every week exactly the same—you can pause, rest, and recalibrate in order to gain stamina for the long term.
For now, I’m taking this July to recalibrate and rethink my always-scrolling social media habits that somehow pop up time and time again. For the next month, I’ll be almost entirely off Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and I’ll be deleting news apps from my phone. (I say almost entirely because we do have one Facebook group where we’re hosting a book club in, but save for that, I’m out.) I’m going to go into my summer reading cave early and spend most of July and August reading full books instead of scrolling.
This summer is the summer of reading, and July is a break from social.
And I’m so excited about it — I almost can’t wait to get started.
My upcoming summer reading list
- feminism is for everybody, by bell hooks
- ain’t i a woman: black women and feminism, by bell hooks
- More Myself: A Journey, by Alicia Keys
- We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, by Samantha Irby
- The Witches Are Coming, by Lindy West
- Dear Girls, by Ali Wong
- Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez
- I’m Still Here, by Austin Channing Brown
- White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
- The Power of Moments, by Chip and Dan Heath
- All The Single Ladies, by Rebecca Traister
- All Joy And No Fun, by Jennifer Senior
- The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandell
- What You Do Is Who You Are, by Ben Horowitz
- Crossing The Chasm, by Geoffrey A Moore
- Lost Connections, by Johann Hari
- Boys & Sex, by Peggy Orenstein
- The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
- Winners Take All, by Anand Giridharadas
- The Leavers, by Lisa Ko.
- Stamped From The Beginning, by Ibram X. Kendi.
- Mom & Me & Mom, by Maya Angelou.
- Fair Play, by Eve Rodsky.
- Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson