I have a problem: I am a social media addict and I didn’t even realize it.
My phone is always close by, I read off my phone at the dinner table (much to my dad’s annoyance), share selfies on Snapchat, #foodporn on Instagram, and some occasional sass on Twitter. I am part of the 40 per cent that brings their phone when on the toilet (don’t even deny it, you’ve done it). And my charger is a must-have in my purse.
It’s why a week-long social media detox was a good idea.
And the rules were simple. It meant seven days of no Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr and Instagram. I could text and e-mail (I’m still in school working on a documentary assignment in contact with sources), but anything meant for fun was out of the question.
Doing a social media detox was painful
I am a journalism student. Social media is a huge part of what I do. However, over the years, it’s gone too far and day one proved it.
The morning of the first day of my social media detox I instantly opened up Instagram. In ten seconds I realized 1.) I logged out of my apps the previous night to avoid temptation so then 2.) I wanted to tweet about how much of a tragedy this was and 3.) as a result I had to delete every single app off my phone.
Less than 24 hours into the detox and I was already a mess. The following days I would stare at things I wish I could “snap.” I looked at my food that was just so “Valencia-able.” I was met with constant statements like “did you see what she posted on Snapchat?” or “why aren’t you replying to our posts on Facebook?”
It felt like a losing battle.
So what did I do?
On average, 18 per cent of our time online is spent on social media. I probably spend 25 to 40.
After going on a social media detox, whether it was during my commute or lying in bed or just bored at home, realizing how much time I had to fill with more than just social media shocked me.
I had to preoccupy myself without constantly “being with” other people. It’s why I took to painting my nails, reading Vanity Fair’s feature on Robert Downey Jr. on the way to school, and actually cleaning my room.
I found myself a little more productive and my phone’s battery a lot less used.
We share too much
Millennials have become a generation of sharing everything. We have created a community amongst shared pictures, videos and 140 characters. We are the generation that has made FOMO a very-real issue. And I am completely guilty of this.
In New Zealand, a hunt for WiFi became the main sport during a two-week back packing trip. At a recent lunch with high school friends, phones become much more entertaining than decent conversation. During a day out to the mall, every single moment had to be documented for “keepsakes.”
While I have rejected platforms like Pinterest, Emojili, and Reddit (the latter is solely used for work), I am still consumed by the five platforms I use daily.
Once my seven days were up, I re-downloaded the apps and was met with 15 Snapchats, 25+ Facebook notifications, and three new followers on Instagram. But, did I miss that much? No.
While we may see a social media detox as a form of torture, you learn to see it as the opposite. It was nice to just take a break from all the diluted stuff that makes up our online communities. Stop trying to capture every single memory for everyone: try to make some just for you.
Take some time to try something new or go back to something old you used to love to do.
Trust me: during this social media detox, it was kind of nice my phone battery lasted the full day.
Do you think you could handle a social media detox?
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