I don’t know about you all, but lately my friends have been making the decision to remove themselves from social media.
One by one they began deleting their apps, I didn’t give it much thought, everybody had their reasons, focus, productivity, mental relief, stress. It all made sense for them, but I never thought I needed to go that route. After all, social media has become an essential part of my platform, its how I connect with my peers, at least this is what I told myself.
It wasn’t until last Sunday, after dwindling away an excessive amount of time rotating to the same three apps over and over and over, that I finally realized that I too, had a problem. I decided to put my phone down and live in the present… at least for one week.
The decision came easily, there it was two Sunday’s before finals, and I was chilling on my couch with a returned essay in need of edits, an exam I hadn’t even looked at, and two 10 page papers in progress. And what was I doing? Well, In my brilliance, I decided that instead of doing any of the one million things on my to do list, I would seek joy by being transfigured into a selfie taking bunny for the 11th time that night. As I stupidly looked at the filter, and felt no different I had to ask myself: “How is this improving your life?”
It wasn’t, I was not connecting, I wasn’t marketing, I wasn’t even making new friends…I was just a silly woman electronically transformed into a bug-eyed bunny. I felt as foolish as I looked. So in that moment it finally dawned on me to put my phone down. For 7 days I committed to not checking my social media, it wasn’t easy. Like kicking a drug habit, going cold turkey comes with its issues of withdrawals.
Here is what happened next:
I had an early morning, as I had volunteered to pick up a friend from the airport at 8am. The traffic was bad, and I found myself itching to check my social media accounts. Had anyone noticed I missed my morning post?
By that afternoon, I was hanging with my friend, but my to-do list had not improved one bit. My deadlines were still hanging over my head, only now I didn’t have social media to block my view. I still tried to have a good time, but without social media to distract me all I could think of was my finals. Besides this, I was beginning to notice some freaky habits. For instance, at times-while watching TV, or waiting in traffic my hand would automatically go to open the app. Like breathing, I had formed a pattern of habit to scrolling and clicking that required no thought on my part. How creepy?
Tuesday mornings I work in the lab, so I always dedicate that time to study. However, without my periodic peeks at Instagram, I was able to truly focus on my projects.
All was well, but once I arrived home, and had completed all my household chores, enjoyed all my favorite tv shows, and had no desire to work on any school related projects, I became a little stir crazy. I had time, why couldn’t I waste a few moments on social media?
I resisted the urge, and decided to visit a friend…but my thoughts of Instagram still plagued my mind. Did you miss me? I just had to know.
Wednesday, my productivity level was in overdrive and my focus was better than ever. After checking my credit report, I spent upwards of an hour speaking to a representative for Transunion, (or was it Equifax?) who was dedicated to helping me, even though it was clear that we were struggling to overcome our language barrier.
I know myself, and I hate speaking to customer service reps. Normally, I would have used Instagram as a way to shield myself from that very necessary responsibility, but without it all I could do was very slowly, spell out my address for the 5th time.
Later , over dinner with my mom, I listened as she complained about my sister’s Facebook post. Never before was I so happy to not be online. Especially after she forfeited her share of the fajitas, declaring herself “to angry to eat”.
Thursday! I had agreed to go to a networking party. Normally, I would hit the open bar, round the hors d’oeuvres, and spend the rest of the night making silly snapchats. But without social media, I had to take the extra effort of starting conversations, breaking the ice and connecting with new people. And you know what? It was fun…. until they asked me for my instagram account.
Now, I was beginning to see how I could utilize Instagram better, rather than hoping to connect with people online, hash tagging #followforfollow and #likeforlike on every post, I should be attempting to incorporate both my real life connections, with my social media accounts. What a “duh?” moment!
Friday! My urge to check my notifications had passed by this point, and all I really wanted to do was write my paper— but sometimes things aren’t so easy. I was forced on to Facebook, in order to confirm some dates for a legal matter. I guess due to the importance of the issue, it wasn’t really cheating- but I do wish it could have been held off for two more days. Such is life!
Saturday! Not even a thought crossed my mind for social media. I went to an art show, a Star Wars themed art show, and I had no urge to snap or chat, or photo document. I just lived in that moment, enjoyed the music, the drinks, and the talent around me. Without the constant documentation of my everyday life, I felt as if I were able to enjoy it more. The whole day passed, and I forgot to even document my daily reflections. Whoops! Time flies, when you aren’t checking your likes every 20 minutes.
The last day of my cleanse! All week I thought that I would be ecstatic to get back to my friends via internet, but not so much. I allowed myself to answer all my private messages, but i didn’t feel an urge to post anything, or to watch anyone’s snapchat story. After a week of mindfulness and being present in my real life, my virtual life just didn’t seem as important.
I am not anti- social media, and I am definitely back online. However, after this experiment my focus will be less on my social media, and more on my social life. The people you meet in person, and the connections you are able to construct are exponentially greater when you can physically look a person in the eye. Or at the very least strike an interesting conversation. Likes and hearts can never compare to real, true human interaction. I know that now.
As a result, I don’t care how many followers I have or likes I get…I want to know how many people I touch.
Have any of you done a social media detox? What was it like? Let me know!! Oh, by the way..I really missed you guys!