For the past week, I’ve gone (for the most part) without any form of social media in my life. Why? Curiosity.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve had social media with me every step of the way. I would check my feed daily: Morning, afternoon, and evening. I didn’t realize it, but I was attached, some might say addicted. It was only after relentless persuasion from my friend Joe, that I decided to test the effects of detachment from the digital world. And so began my journey.
Day 1: Unlike other withdrawal stories, I was neither shaking nor distressed after my first day. Rather the opposite happened. I found I was spending less time on my phone, which allowed me to spend more time on other things like preparing for exams or side projects. Once in a while I would pick up my phone out of habit, but only to find zero notifications and place it back down.
Day 2: I found myself getting bored more frequently. During car rides or at restaurants, I had nothing to do but socialize or let my mind run loose. It had been a long time since I had experienced that level of boredom. It made me realize how much of a role social media had in my life.
Days 3-7: Occasionally I would need to check if something had been posted on the BWS Instagram or if someone did shoutouts for another project, but for the most part my life was more free. It wasn’t like those cliché “liberations from our digitized prison cells” but it was freeing. I got so used to life without social media, my phone usage dropped around 50% from the prior week (2 hours to less than 1). I was getting more work done, finding ways to deal with my boredom, and felt no sense of regret. Once in a while I would feel out of the loop, but I didn’t care all too much.
And then I went to the App Store on my 7th day to download Instagram and Snapchat.
Initial reactions: After a week without social media, being on my phone for more than 10 minutes felt strange. It felt even stranger looking at stories/feeds. As I clicked through each photo, I saw no purpose in them. I wasn’t frustrated at anyone, I was more disappointed in myself for wasting 10 minutes on useless information. I will admit, it was satisfying to check in with everyone, but after that it all seemed useless. I never realized how much time I used to spend on social media until after downloading it back.
Takeaways: I would not say that social media use has more cons than pros. It’s not that simple. However, I will say that my time away has been eye-opening. Never did I see how much of my day was taken up by looking down at a screen. That’s not to say it was all “useless information” but I certainly could’ve lived without it. To prevent myself from reverting back to my old habits, I put some preventative measures in place, like limits on daily usage, for self-control.
I would recommend this “purge” to anyone, especially those that think they are not addicted (I was in that same boat). You never realize how much you depend on something until it’s gone.