18 Days Into No Social Media
Not being on social media has been way easier than I had thought. At first, after I had just deleted my insta app, I still felt an itch to check my account. But soon enough, my brain adjusted to not being on the app and I was able to focus my time and energy on other activities instead. Not being on instagram unsurprisingly gave me a lot of free time. Instead of scrolling through my endless feed, I could do other, more fulfilling, activities like: writing, reading, art, etc.
*Clarification: when I say “social media,” I am mostly referring to instagram because I don’t use facebook aside from messenger/keeping connected to friends.
Being off social media has definitely made a huge difference in my entire mental state. Instead of obsessively posting stories every time I was out with family/friends, I could focus on being fully present and mindful in the moment. This allowed me to really savor the moment and, for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was really living. Last week, my bestie and her sister (who coincidentally both don’t use Instagram) visited me for a week from Boston and I took them on outings to SF, Santa Cruz, and all over the Bay Area. Usually, when I am doing fun things and eating delicious food, I instinctively post on my story. But since I didn’t have the app on my phone, the temptation was removed and I was forced to be fully present in the moment. It allowed me to fully focus on enjoying my time with my friends, in a way that I wouldn’t be able to if I were distracted my social media. Granted, we still took lots of pictures, but our motivation was different: we were taking pictures to commemorate the time for ourselves and ourselves only. Their visit was the most fun I’ve had this past year—and I have no doubt in my mind that part of it was definitely because I wasn’t on social media.
It’s hard for me to put my finger on exactly why not being on instagram made me enjoy myself more, but I think it was because I didn’t feel the added pressure of posing for the camera and broadcasting my activities to the world. I didn’t have to fake having fun—I could actually have fun. This was huge for me, because I hadn’t even realized how much instagram had begun to influence the my mental state. Although it seems like a harmless act from the outside, it can subconsciously shape the way you live your life. The scary thing is that I don’t even consider myself to be an full-blown Instagrammer—if I am already feeling this way as a part-time user, I shudder at the thought of how full-time users live their lives.
I do have a confession to make, though. Sometime about a week ago, I felt this urge to re-download my insta app to upload a post. But as soon as I downloaded the app and tapped into it, I felt my stomach lurch. I literally felt sick at the idea of going back on it. It’s like that feeling you get when you first drink soda after a long period of no sugar. The weird thing is that even I don’t know why I had that reaction. Even though my mind had been pretty set on breaking my instagram fast, deep down I knew it would not be a good decision for me. So, I kicked the urge aside and deleted the app again.
I’m not saying that I’ll never use social media again. In fact, I might re-download instagram sometime soon. But when I do return to social media, I will do so with the full awareness of how it can negatively affect my state of being. I will set healthy parameters in place to not allow social media to influence how I live my life, and check my motives before posting stories/posts.
In sum, here are my findings from my mini-no social media experiment:
The withdrawal is minimal, but the benefits (of not being on social media) are substantial.
If not controlled, social media can literally alter your experience of life (by making you act in an inauthentic way).
Being fully present in the moment will lead to increased satisfaction and happiness.
A periodic social media fast can reorient you in a healthy way and reveal unhealthy usage habits.
I hope this experiment has been informative for you as it has been for me!
Until next time,