It’s not a secret that when I find something I like, I really like it. I’m like a puppy with a new toy. I obsessively carry it around with me for days, maybe weeks, until I find a new toy or bone to distract me. A short list of these obsessions in the past year alone include, in no particular order: wearing dresses with tennis shoes, being on book launch teams, grey sweatshirts, Harris Teeter cherry limeade sparkling water, doing a plank every other hour at work, gel manicures, and hummus.

Most recently, I discovered The Flourish Market. Okay, so that’s a lie. I’ve known about the fashion truck turned brick and mortar shop in Downtown Raleigh for years, but I always felt inconvenienced to go there. I loved what they stood for — Shop with Meaning — but never had an excuse to buy something because I was never in that neighborhood.

With a new job in Raleigh this year, I have found my way over there on more than a couple of occasions much to my husband’s chagrin. However, it’s not what I saw in the store that I became obsessed with. It’s what the owner of the shop is preaching that I love.

Now, I could write about founder Em Grey (as she signs her emails) but she doesn’t need my words. She is on a beautiful mission and speaks eloquently and passionately about why she does what she does. The best example of this is on a recent Refined Collective podcast episode. Listen when you’re done here.

One thing that resonated with me from her daily InstaStories and talks was the fact that she doesn’t follow more than 100 people on Instagram. She goes into why she does this in the podcast episode linked above. When I heard her talk about that, a lightbulb went off in my mind. Despite what social media may want me to believe, I control the inputs in my life.

More and more these days it seems like we see targeted ads based on Google searches or keywords we use in conversations across the web. We see shiny, happy versions of people’s lives in our Instagram feed and their “real, behind the scenes” moments through InstaStories that are usually just funny or dramatic retellings of mundane things. I know this because I’m guilty of it – hello shattered milk jar first in the yarn store then in my kitchen floor (spoiler alert: there still is no use crying over it).

I don’t have a problem with people sharing things and staying connected. I love social media for that, but what I don’t love is how it honestly took me listening to someone else to realize that I still have control over who I follow and what is filtered through in front of my face.

I stopped and reevaluated how my life would be if social media wasn’t involved. Would I still know what that girl from school who always one-upped me was doing? Would I care what Taylor Swift’s cats looked like? Would I impulse buy indie hand-dyed yarn that never turns out as bright and colorful as it does in its photo? No, probably not. I would know what the people in my life were doing because I would talk to them and see them.

So I unfollowed almost 150 people. I found that I didn’t need to know the latest yarn color from The Lemonade Shop. That only caused me to buy more yarn. I didn’t need to follow an ex-boyfriend’s cousin because she followed me first. I uninvited myself from the highlight reels of several people who always made me feel bad about my writing, my wardrobe, and my living room.

This revelation about inputs can be applied to many facets of my life. What I eat, what I read, what I watch, etc. I sparked a broader conversation with myself about whether I’m actively involved in things or letting things happen to me. The fewer people I followed online, the less I wanted to scroll idly through my phone. The less time I spent on my phone, the more time I found to walk my dog, meet our neighbors, take an interest in things that give me joy. I also noticed that with fewer inputs, my distractions and obsessive tendencies were less severe. It’s almost like if we put our phones down, we’ll enjoy life a little more. What an idea.

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