I QUIT SOCIAL MEDIA FOR 60 Days
Social Media is amazing in so many ways; We can keep in touch with friends and family all over the world, we can reunite a lost pet with their owners, raise money for charity, be inspired by a picture on Instagram or maybe learn something on YouTube. In fact no matter how weird and wonderful an interest you might have, it's likely you can find a like minded community via social media.
But in recent years we've been hearing more and more about the negative side effects of social media, especially when it comes to our mental health - so much so it's been discussed by members of parliment and more recently Instagram has been trialling hiding likes in a bid to remove the focus on the amount of likes a picture receives and the pressure that that creates. The focus however, seems to be the effect social media has on teenagers and young people. I truly believe that social media can effect anyone, regardless of age, so I decided to undertake a total social media ban and see what happened. I originally planned to do it for just 30 days but the results were so interesting that I continued to 60 days.
On day one I deleted all apps off my phone and was excited to get started. What I wasn't prepared for was how difficult the first few days would be. I've never considered myself to be that big a social media user prior to this experiment, but by deleting all the apps off my phone I couldnt easily access social media and I was truly shocked at how often I reached for my phone for a quick scroll. We've all lost 15-30 minutes on social media, not even really doing anything so once the urge to look at my phone dissapated I found I had a lot more time in the day.
Another consequence of deleting all the apps was I no longer had interruptions of notifications all day long, so if I was working there wasn't anything that was helping me to procrastinate or pulling my attention away from the task at hand.
One thing that I really started to notice as time went on was that I felt so much more engaged in whatever I was doing. If visiting friends and family I wasn't reaching for my phone, checking for notifications, as there wouldn't be one. Even something as simple as watching a box set on Netflix became so much more enjoyable, I felt more invested in the characters and more immersed in the stories as I wasn't taking my attention away to check Instagram. I had no idea prior to the experiment how often I was absent mindedly scrolling whilst apparently watching something. So much so that in the first few days I had to put my phone in another room to break the habit of repeatedly picking it up!
Another large benefit was that after a while I started to focus on what I need, what I want, what are my goals rather than societies ideals. I stopped feeling like my life was utterly rubbish in comparison to a random blogger on the internet I will likely never meet, or someone I went to school with that I haven't exchanged two words with for the last twenty years. We all know deep down that social media is a highlight reel rather than real life but it can be hard to remember that when the lines feel so blurred, and everyone seems to be travelling the world in utter luxury, wearing the latest designer clothes and you're wearing your old sweatpants watching Emmerdale.
I also discovered that the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out) simply isn't real. If you don't know it's happening, you don't feel you're missing out.
As daft as this might sound, after a period of time I started to feel like I valued myself more. Yes, there are absolutely things I'd like to change or want to improve, but I started to just be ok with who I am, what makes me me, what makes me unique. I am not cool by internet standards, and I couldn't be an Instagram 'baddie' if I tried, but I'm actually ok with that, because my life is my story and no one elses.
Not to sound dramatic but in some ways I genuinely do believe that I started to feel happier, probably because of all of the points I've already mentioned. What I wasn't quite expecting was that from time to time negative thoughts and feelings would still arise - deleting social media certainly doesn't erase those completely - but where I would normally pushed that feeling aside and distracted myself by having an absent minded scroll, I actually worked through whatever I was feeling, often with positive self talk, and I feel that's a much healthier thing to do than to simply distract myself.
So what now? Well I returned to instagram after 60 days, and I really do enjoy YouTube - both as a consumer and as a creator - but I have deleted many other forms of Social Media. Gone are Facebook, Linked In, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok and Whatsapp. I might reinstall at some future point, but for now I'm perfectly happy without them. I've found it much easier to communicate well with friends by actually reducing the amount of platforms we DM and message on, most close friends have my phone number, should they want to contact me it's not that hard! I've also turned off notifications for those pplatforms I've returned to and this has kept me productive.
I would highly recommend anyone try completing a social media detox, even if just for a week. It's massively changed the way I use it, and reduced the amount of time I waste on all platforms, meaning that when I do use it I focus on genuine social interaction.