I Disconnected from Social Media for a Week — Here’s What Happened
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Social media is a big part of our lives these days, whether we want it to be or not. We all use it to keep tabs on each other and to tell each other about what’s going on in their lives. As part of my new year’s resolution, however, I decided to go without it for a week. Aside from the reported benefits of digitally detoxing, I wanted to take a step back from all of the disheartening political stuff that’s so abundant on social media.
I don’t generally spend a lot of time on the different platforms, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to say goodbye to all of it for a bit. Sure — I scroll through Twitter on occasion and I post a status update to Facebook maybe three times a month. I’m probably on Instagram the most because I love looking at people’s art and hand-lettering for inspiration. But I could go without that for a week, no sweat. Right?
I woke up this morning feeling pumped. I was gonna be SO productive it wasn’t even FUNNY. I texted my mom to let her know I won’t be on social media for a week so she didn’t call me and freak out because I didn’t answer her Instagram messages. I turned off all my social app notifications on my phone — more because of the anxiety-inducing red badge icons than FOMO, but that’s just me.
I definitely didn’t miss social media during work, but that might be because I was busy. The no Twitter thing was a bit of a problem, since I try to stay updated on things that are trending (one of those things might make a good news story), but I was kind of relieved to not come across people fighting about Trump and which celebrity said what. That stuff gets seriously emotionally exhausting. After work, I got caught up on Supernatural and The Flash, snuggled with my cat, and hid under my blankets because the heater is broken and it was FREEZING. I got a little bored and almost reached for my phone to scroll through Instagram. I’m addicted to pretty lettering. It’s a problem. Instead I snuggled up with and finished my fourth book of the year.
Day 1: Meh. It’s a habit to mindlessly scroll, but I didn’t suffer from digital withdrawal.
Today was even easier. And it was raining so I was extra happy. Work, TV, read — the usual. Then I subjected my cat to copious amounts of affection, and she purred like a
little big engine. Afterward, I made some homemade stuffed bell peppers, which came out delicious. I decided to end the day by chilling out with a beer and playing video games with the boyfriend. If I told you I was missing social media really bad, I’d be lying. Honestly, it was so nice not to feel compelled to keep up with everything. And because I’m extremely introverted, a social media shutdown makes for a nice, much-needed recharge. Self-care is important, and it’s hard to do that if you’re too focused on everything else, like trying really hard to be polite to people who aren’t trying hard to be polite online. There’s already enough negativity, and it was nice to not have to see that stuff everywhere.
Day 2: Great! I felt like a teenager again — not the kind you’re probably thinking of, but the kind of teenager I was. The kind who sits in a comfy chair in her room all day and devours books.
You would not believe how much better you feel when you eat mindfully. I actually focused on breakfast today — eating it away from my computer. My cat approved, because it was easier for her to sit on my lap. I approved, because I didn’t get that sick feeling in my stomach that comes from seeing people fight nonstop. No one needs that ever, but especially not during a nice morning meal.
Naturally, I was tethered to the internet for work, and I almost clicked a Twitter link without thinking. Oops. I spent my time after work reading, watching TV and reading some more. I burned an amazing-smelling book-themed candle while I read (it’s not quite cold enough here for me to close my eyes and believe I’m in Winterfell, but I allowed my imagination to do its thing). I had to nudge the cat out of the way so I can fit in bed — seriously, she thinks she owns the damn place — and then I opened my book and fell asleep reading.
Day 3: What even is social media?
I think my new social media-less life started to become a habit today. It’s amazing how much free time adds up when you aren’t spending random minutes here and there looking at Twitter or Instagram. It was surprising to me how much of a difference it made, since I’m not really an avid social media user, but it’s minutes that make up the day. It was also surprising how much less stressed I felt. I would like to have a chat with whoever said social media is all fun and games.
My day today was similar to the others — I worked, played with the kitty, watched some TV, ate a nice meal and got some reading done. Today, I finished my fifth book of the year. Looks like I’ll hit my 100 book goal for 2017 no problem.
Day 4: Maybe I should just delete my accounts. I don’t really need ’em anyway.
This morning, I woke up and lay in bed listening to the rain. I love winter. Call me crazy, but I would take frigid air over heat any day. After work, I ate and devoted some time to reading and lettering. Around mid-afternoon I started to wonder what people were doing on Instagram, a realization which annoyed me. I’d been doing so well so far! Twitter and Facebook and their collective dumpster fire were the farthest they could possibly be from my mind.
I played the Game of Life (albeit on the computer) with family and friends for the first time in years. Ahh, memories. It destroys fewer friendships than Monopoly does, anyway. And time spent with loved ones trumps social media any day.
Day 5: Maybe I’ll just keep Instagram (and Twitter for work).
Today, I slept in until noon. What? How? I ate breakfast (in bed! Scandalous!) and watched TV. Then I read, all the while thinking that I probably had a ton of notifications by now. I thought, “Maybe if I take a peek at Instagram it won’t count. I just won’t post anything. That’s okay, right? NO.” Besides, I can letter myself. And I can get news without having to read people’s opinions on it — that’s what standard news sites are for (yes, those are still a thing).
I realized I only had one more day until I could go back to my (admittedly minimal) typical social media habits, and distracted myself with TV and video games. I called our local hot tub place to see if they had any available (I don’t need to tell you how heavenly a hot tub on a cold night is), but they were booked up so I took a hot shower instead. Shower time = introspection time. I came to terms with the fact that it really is okay to use social media; I don’t have to feel guilty about it. I ate and read some more, before lighting a candle and listening to the rain.
Day 6: Mixed feelings.
Today was weirdly more difficult than the past few days. I was wide awake at 7am and read for a little while before deciding I was just not ready to face the day and fell back asleep. The rest of the day I just pretended my phone doesn’t exist, because basically it didn’t. Weekend means no urgent emails to answer, and since absently flicking through Twitter wasn’t an option, I kept to my books and snuggling with the kitty. I woke up after a nap at 11pm and figured close enough, so I turned my notifications back on. Facebook: 13 notifications, most of them not even relevant. Instagram: around 30 notifications, most of them along the lines of “X went live” or “X liked your photo.” Yawn. Twitter: zero notifications. Basically, I missed out on absolutely nothing. I think the lesson in there is that people think that staying connected all the time is way more important than it really is. Another thing? No one really even noticed I was gone. Except my mom, of course. But she can always call me.
Day 7: Feeling bittersweet to be honest. I’m glad I have the option to check social media now, but I realized I miss doing things just because they made me happy — like finishing two books in a week. I’ll definitely continue keeping my social media use to a minimum; I enjoyed feeling less emotionally drained.
Have you taken a break from social media? If you’re not currently on a break, tell us about it @BritandCo!
(Feature photo via Getty)