I’ve decided it’s time for something new.
As most of you probably know, just before Christmas I decided to take some time off – not just from The Pilot Wife Life, but from social media (and all outside activity and distraction) as a whole. The last few months have been riddled with the stresses of a job change, a major home remodel, family health issues, several major nonprofit events, a plethora of unexpected frustrations, and the holidays. Of course, that doesn’t even count the typical, everyday stresses with regards to the aviation lifestyle, my own career, and home schooling!
I’m not saying I was falling apart exactly, but I certainly wasn’t holding it all neatly together with a pretty bow either. I desperately needed to step back, breathe, and reevaluate my life’s priorities. In essence, to practice what I preach to you! I think it’s good for us all to do that from time to time regardless of our current situation. And how could I possibly lead you well if I wasn’t following my own [fantastic] advice? If there’s one thing I know, you cannot continue to fill others up from an empty pitcher.
Part of that reevaluation and rejuvenation period included an intentional self-limitation of all social media. I deleted the apps from my phone, politely excused myself from you for a bit, and spent some time in deep introspection. I candidly have to admit that, at first, I found myself unconsciously reaching for my phone in every life lull and at every stoplight out of sheer habit. It was interesting and a bit disturbing to me to realize how hardwired my brain was to crave and even need that constant stimulation – not unlike any other addiction, I dare say. Scary, actually, how very, very like…
As the days passed, my brain slowly began to rewire itself until, one fine day, I found that I no longer unwittingly reached for the phone at every pause. In fact, I had no desire whatsoever to do so! I no longer needed to be constantly bombarded by useless stimuli, and I felt better than I have in ages!
It is my utmost intention to lead you well. That means constantly reevaluating what I am doing here, how I am doing it, what I can do better, and where we are headed next. It is important to me to do (to the best of my limited ability) the right things for you. I assure you that, even when I mess up egregiously, my intentions are always of the sincerest and purest kind. I truly love this community and every single man and woman who is on this journey with me. I would like to share with you some of the interesting things I have experienced/realized since turning off the social media, how I think it all relates to what I am doing here at TPWL, and my contemplation on how to proceed moving forward:
Being off social media, I have realized that:
I have infinitely more time than I realized. My screen time is down by approximately 60-70% across the board. We all think we ‘do not spend that much time online.’ I certainly didn’t! Yet I suddenly find myself with an excess of extra minutes on my hands. Why is that? Let’s face it, one scroll leads to the next leads to the next, and before we know, it 30, 60, 90 (or more) minutes have slipped away unnoticed. And the crazy thing is we don’t even realize the great quantity of time our online exploits encompass because we are in an almost trance-like state while scrolling. Let me clear, social media is engineered to be addictive. They don’t make the piles of cash unless you are reading their files of trash!! I have had time to do my quiet times, vacuum/clean the house, play games, read books, catch up overdue projects, take long walks, cuddle my kids, bake cookies (which I also may or may not have inadvertently eaten too), etc… All things I haven’t been able to even glance at because I ‘didn’t have time’ in…well, I don’t even know how long. It’s been pretty incredible and incredibly eye opening! We are squandering away the precious moments of our lives scrolling through much lesser things. Time is a limited resource; the number of years, months, days, hours, and minutes allotted us are absolutely finite. Social media is robbing us of our most precious commodity – time!
Internet negativity is a rampant and deadly cancer. I’m going to be blatantly honest with you here. The very last thing I read on my social media site before taking a break was a comment by some random man whom I’d never met (or even heard of). It was made on a picture of me taken after a horrible, horrible day encouraging other women (as well as myself) not to define their beauty or value by the opinions of others. The comment was three distinct and oh-so-classy words: F*** You B**ch. Seriously? I mean, seriously??? I spend my life pouring into people, helping them through some tough times and encouraging them – for absolutely zero compensation. And what I get for my efforts is F.Y.B. on my worst day? Bah! That was the pinpoint moment I decided to take a social media sebatical. I was, quite frankly, spent. Let me tell you something about hatred and negativity. It will affect you. It’s a dirty and persistent little cancer cell that implants itself into your weakened heart and festers and grows there. It’s a slowly progressive disease. The progress is so subtle and sneaky that one day you wake up and find you are filled with bitterness, anger, resentment but don’t understand why. I have seen it time and time again. What we pour into our hearts will also inevitably be the overflow in our own lives and from our own lips, and therefore our relationships. I don’t claim to understand it, but social media is a lion’s den of negativity! The comments, the posts, the news… all laden with brokenness and darkness. People are mean simply for the sake of being mean. They destroy other people to cover their own destruction. Since being off social media, I have felt such an unexpected cleansing and renewal of my spirit! I didn’t even know I was infected with the cancer, but I was! The hatred and trolling is so mainstream and socially acceptable that we have become complacent in recognizing its effects on our mental well being. It’s only in hindsight that I see how deeply it was invading my own heart and in retrospect, my joy and my relationships! And I’m willing to bet, I’m not the only one.
It is spurring an epidemic of loneliness. I I will be the first to admit that social media is not the only factor, but certainly it is undeniably a major catalyst. We are connected to people all around the globe, yet we are quite literally dying of loneliness. We have become, ironically enough, one of the most disconnected connected societies in the history of the world. Technology is a mixed bag for us who abide here in the folds of aviation life. It allows us to stay connected with the ones we love while we are thousands of miles apart, but it also keeps us disconnected when we are lying side by side in bed. If we are constantly reaching for or caressing a device, we are missing opportunities to reach for and caress our spouse. If our eyes are glued to a screen, they are not truly seeing the people standing right beside us. And those people? They desperately want… no, NEED to be seen by us. Our presence is the greatest gift we can give the ones we love. Since, putting down the social media, my hand has stopped reaching for a device and begun reaching for my husband’s hand, my children, a pen to write an old fashioned letter, a phone to call my grandmother, the keys to visit a friend. In the two short weeks since my break, my relationships have been exponentially enriched. I may not know what my neighbor’s, friend’s, mailman’s wife ate for breakfast anymore, but I do know what holding my husband’s hand on an early morning walk feels like. I’m okay with that. We are surrounded by people and dying of loneliness. It’s incredibly sad. It is, by far, the loudest cry I hear from the men and women I mentor, and it’s breaking my heart.
So what does all of this mean for this community? After a great deal of contemplation and introspection, I believe a lot.
I’ve had a lot of time to do some serious thinking about my next steps and what I hope to accomplish with them. I believe this community, as awesome as it is, has even more unleashed potential! I’ve got big aspirations. Right now I’m commanding a 172, but I want to Captain a 747! I want to be more than just another social media vent fest that saps our precious time and leaves us feeling even more empty and alone. I desire to create real relationships, not only between you and me, but with one another! I want to find ways to filter out the negative toxicity of generalized social media and give you an even more positive (and safer) environment to enjoy life together! I want to allow you to be encouraged by and interactive with this community without wasting the precious time you have to live and love! I hope to bypass the algorithms that determine what you are ‘allowed’ to see so that you stop missing encouragement that you might desperately need. I want to seek out and embrace even more aviation families who haven’t yet found us and give them all of these things too…without dragging them into the social media pit of despair.
In short, I want this community to thrive and grow while being be the anti-social media! Crazy, right! Definitely! That’s why I know this is exactly where I need to go. If it’s hard [impossible], then you KNOW I’m all in!
Am I leaving you? No! Exactly the opposite. I’m about to revolutionize and expand this community in an epic way – one which will maximize our time together! At least that’s what I hope. I have had some BIG ideas about how to meet the lofty goals above, and I think I have stumbled across the answer to all the above conundrums. So much so, that I dropped a large chunk of my own change (in the tune of 6K so far) into a major project for this community. It’s a huge leap of faith for me and I’m absolutely terrified, but you are worth it! So very, very worth it. I have a lot of work in my near future, but I am super excited about the end game! I ask that you keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I juggle this new project. Change, amazing beautiful change, is on the horizon, my friends.
I promise I will reveal more as I get further into the process and am able. I actually hope to make the first [very exciting] revelation within the next 1-3 weeks! For now, mum is the word. Please be patient with me as I continue to pour my time into making this dream a reality. It will be a bumpy ride at times. However, this I know. I will not/cannot sit back quietly and allow the negativity, loneliness, and time funnel of social media to consume the beautiful thing we are doing here at TPWL! We have earned our wings, now it’s time to F.L.Y., my friends! I think you are going to be as excited about this as I am!!!
In the interim, I encourage you to take a good hard look at your social media activity and consider ways that you can decrease the time you spend there. If you do, I believe that like me, once you get over that initial pull of addiction (it’s not as easy as you might think!), you will suddenly find yourself feeling refreshed, happier, and with a lot more time for the things that matter most in life – people and F.L.Y.-ing.
I love you, family. Truly, I do.
Angelia (a rejuvenated and VERY excited Pilot Wife)
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