5 Things I Learned When I Went On a Social Media Detox
Taking a break from social media may be harder than you think, but the benefits do outweigh the initial withdrawal pangs of social media separation. You may have heard of all the celebrities and even some friends who’ve decided to unplug from social sites like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and the like. (Even Ariana Grande went on a social media hiatus.) And for the most part, they say that the initial hiatus was difficult but the payoff was worth it. So what can you really learn when you take a social media detox? Here’s what I learned when I took a break from social media for a whole month.
Taking a Break from Social Media
I used to find myself constantly reaching for my phone, checking Facebook and Instagram. I would get aggravated by the bickering and fighting over political issues, horrified by some animal abuse video or criminal on the loose, or go down a rabbit hole with some clever clickbait headline that sucked me in to read ridiculous articles which are clearly designed to string you along and get you to click on their ads. Believe me, detaching from social media wasn’t easy, especially since my job requires me to check email during all hours of the day and on the weekend.
So what I did was set strict guidelines as to when I would check my email when I was at home.
The first few days, I was jonesing for my phone. I would look at it longingly and the temptation to check in was overwhelming, but as the days passed I found that I didn’t even think about checking in on my friend’s Instagram stories, or looking at my Facebook feed to see who was doing what or who was engaged in some political fight. I was liberated.
5 Things I Realized When I Quit Social Media
More free time. Once I gave up checking in to my social media sites, I realized that I had been focusing more on my “digital” presence than my real life presence. Disconnecting from the internet, I had time to practice self-care, read a book, go shopping, go to a park, or come home and cook a nice dinner.
Less anxiety and depression. I did notice that often when I went on Facebook or Instagram, I would compare my life to my friends’ “digital” life. Somehow their posts made me feel inadequate and often like I didn’t measure up. It makes sense that being on social media and comparing myself to others would give my slight anxiety and depression since scientists have found a correlation between social media and social angst.
No need for validation from outside sources. Not posting my accomplishments, documenting my life for everyone to “like” was a huge relief. I realized that I don’t need other people’s validation in order to feel fulfilled or accomplished.
Interacted in person with friends and loved ones. When I first unplugged, I had friends text me to ask why I was no longer on the sites. Most were supportive and others were skeptical that I could stay away. What did happen was that I started to reconnect with people by calling them or sending them a brief text.
Actually became more physically active. Since taking a hiatus from my social sites and having more free time on my hands, I realized that I needed to occupy that time with other activities and that’s when I started walking again. Yes, I go to the gym about 3-4 times a week, but going for a walk in the evenings instead of being glued to my smartphone or tablet made me realize that I was addicted to my phone and it was having detrimental effects on my physical well-being. Going for evening walks helped me clear my mind, connect with my husband and engage in conversation, hold hands, and even stop and talk to neighbors!
Try a 30-day Social Media Separation
Since my 30-day social media detox, I have gone back to my favorite sites: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,and PInterest. But now I do it with discipline and measure. While at work, my phone is in a drawer so the temptation to “peek” is minimized. And I have allowed myself specific times to check in and see what everyone in the digital world is up to. I check in in the morning and in the evenings, and that’s it!
Quitting social media cold turkey wasn’t easy at first, but like everything else in life, you get used to it and I started to live life again, present for myself and the ones I love.