If you’ve decided to sign off social media for good, or if you ever took a break from social media, you may have noticed a few things. The first thing I noticed was how my day was less interrupted (I deleted Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube from my phone). Later, I noticed that I sometimes didn’t know about a new baby, engagement, or major life events. Third, I noticed I wanted to text my family more often and send them pictures of my day because I was either lonely or enjoying it so much I wanted to share with someone!
Slowly, I learned that I can stay connected with my loved ones without being hyper-connected to hundreds of people at the same time. I started shifting my mindset and I started paying attention to how people acted who didn’t have social media (like my Aunt Rebecca who passed away last summer).
#1 Take pictures and print them
My Aunt Rebecca was known for her documentation of life. She always had her camera at any family function, event, and even church. One thing about pictures is they are meant to be shared. She didn’t leave them sitting around on hard drives and memory cards; she got them printed and put them in albums. Anytime we were at her house, we could pull out an album or two and reminisce.
#2 Send people printed pictures
My aunt would also send pictures regularly to her mother to help her stay connected with the family long distance. She even sent me a small album of pictures she took at my wedding which I will treasure more than anything she ever gave me. It will always remind me of her, and the good, happy feeling of my wedding day. I have even sent Walmart or Walgreens prints directly to my parents and grandparents when ordering prints for myself.
#3 Start a personal blog for your close friends/family
I haven’t done well at constantly printing pictures yet (I can’t seem to make room in my budget to print as many pictures as I take and it takes time to sort through them, excuses, I know) I have, for the time, documented these photos on a personal blog. I wish I would have started this earlier because it’s as therapeutic as journaling and more reliable than Facebook at preserving memories. have you ever tried finding a specific post on your timeline by scrolling? (I would recommend the search feature) A blog has yearly and monthly archives.
But speaking of journals, they are a great way to get ideas and deep thoughts off your chest without putting them out there for hundreds (or thousands) of people to see. I notice when I don’t journal and don’t pray about things, I default to unloading on my family. Journaling helps me pray about things because when I put something into words and on paper, it’s no longer just swirling around in my head anymore. I took my journal with me everywhere in high school. Yeah not exactly safe, but I never let it out of my sight and nobody ever really asked me about it. Maybe it just looked like another notebook to them (I used the jumbo journals from Walmart). I didn’t have social media so God and my journal were my outlets. Even when I finally got Facebook in college, I didn’t have a smartphone, so I carried my digital camera and paper journal around everywhere. I posted pictures on my blog and Facebook and wrote long blog posts about things that inspired me.
#4 Send a card instead of an instant message
If a friend comes to your mind and you want to connect with them, instead of pulling out your phone, grab a pen and a blank notecard and jot your note down and send it snail mail. Yes, it takes longer. No, they may not reply via snail mail, but you may have brightened their day with your simple notecard—Especially if they are older or not on social media. Bonus points if it’s their birthday! (You’re allowed to message them for their address)
Video call your long-distance relative
I have grandparents, parents, aunts, and a sister who live far away (I moved away from my home state). I call or video call them regularly, but I feel that is a no-brainer, so I’m moving on to #5
#5 Last but not least, get together in person
Birthdays are a great excuse to host a game night or meet at your favorite restaurant. Plan an occasional park outing, hike, or float trip. Dinner parties are a lost art, but it might be worth resurrecting. I always loved a good Tupperware party because there was always good food and friends, and a few new people to meet. I have thought about hosting similar parties unrelated to selling and buying–prayer group, women’s Bible study, card party, craft night–the options are endless.
I hope you were inspired to incorporate some of this into your life, if you don’t already. I know I have had to make a decision to be more intentional about reaching out to the people I care about to keep a strong relationship. We need connection, and sometimes I think social media is the junk food of human connection. It pretends to satisfy, but leaves us starved, unhappy, and burned out instead.
And I’ll give you a word of experience. You don’t have to know about every baby that is going to be born and every wedding that is happening. You can catch up when you see your friend in person or when you reach out personally. There’s something special about saying “congratulations” in person, even if it’s a few months after everyone else.