The Uproar

Social Media Detox

Giving up something that seemed so vital can actually prove revitalizing

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Social Media Detox

photo montage by Kaycee Orwig

photo montage by Kaycee Orwig

photo montage by Kaycee Orwig

Julia Badamo, Staff Writer

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I quit social media a month ago.

This is my second social media detox, except I’m thinking this time it will be permanent. In November, I quit my social media, but all my accounts still existed and I was back on within three weeks. This time, I deactivated my Instagram and Twitter accounts. My Snapchat still exists, and I log in once a day to keep my streaks (no stories, snap map, or opening anyone’s snaps) and log back off. The more days that pass, the less I care about streaks, but I just don’t want to upset the person on the other end.

Just like everyone else, I compulsively checked my social media. In the battery section of settings on my phone, it told me I was spending nearly two hours on Instagram alone. Anytime I felt bored or was in an awkward situation, I checked my social media. Before I went to bed I needed to see what I was missing and make sure I checked it again first thing in the morning.

When I reached a thousand followers on Instagram, I didn’t feel any different than when I had sixty in 2012. I came to the realization that it would never be enough — I could have ten thousand followers and would feel the same way. Touch screens make us lose touch, and social media became a crutch that I didn’t need.

April 25th marks one month social media free, and I’ve learned more than I ever imagined and feel absolutely free.

My first day off was Sunday, March 25th. I had been doing more and more research into the benefits of going off the grid and decided to pull the plug. I needed a break. Initially, I had the intention of coming back on, but right now I feel no desire to.

The first few days were anxiety-ridden and weird. When you delete the apps on your phone, your whole life changes. From your morning routine to meal time, checking your phone constantly is a compulsion that you don’t realize.

There have been countless times since my detox began when I went into my phone and was met with a barren home screen. I had no choice but to find something to do. I used to check my phone when I woke up and before I went to bed at night, and now hours pass where I don’t even think about what I’m missing.

Days four and five of my detox were when it started to become extremely difficult. I’m still not sure why, but on those days I kept getting fears that I was missing out on something. There was only one thing I could do to put these abstract fears to rest: I logged onto Instagram to deactivate my account. Before I could officially deactivate it, I needed to choose from a long list of specific reasons as to why I wanted to deactivate my account. I chose “just need a break.” Although I rarely went on Twitter, I still felt that I would resort to looking at it through Safari, so I decided to deactivate that, too.  

When I clicked “deactivate” I immediately felt freed. No posts to like, trends to keep up with, Snapchat stories to watch. I wasn’t tied to anything and wasn’t anyone’s digital slave. This freedom is something that I’m not used to.

I truly haven’t missed anything. I’ve reclaimed time without the fear of missing out. Anything that’s trending online will be talked about in real life, so I didn’t need Instagram to find out who yodel boy was. The time that I used to mindlessly scroll through social media posts is now being used for something productive and purposeful.

Here are a few things that being off of social media has taught me — and I hope it may convince you to take a break, too.

1.There’s much more free time

No one realizes how much time they really spend on social media. Studies show that you gain two hours in your day by not checking social media. Everyone says that they’re busy and that they have no time to do their homework or hang out, but delete your social media and you will truly see how much time there is in a day. Since I began my detox right before spring break, that meant that during break I had lots of free time and didn’t know how to utilize it. I used to spend countless hours scrolling through social media before realizing that was 8 pm and I hadn’t done anything since I got home. Days pass by more slowly and that honestly is not a bad thing. My productivity has increased, and knowing that there’s a whole day ahead of me to do what needs to be accomplished reduces stress and honestly makes me feel more creative.

2. Sleep longer and feel less tired

Have you ever had those nights where you tell yourself that you’ll only check Snapchat for a couple minutes before bed? Then before you know it, 40 minutes have passed and you’re still sitting in your room staring at your phone? Me too. However, now that there isn’t anything for me to check, I’m forced to go to bed. I get at least an extra 45 minutes of sleep every night compared to when I was on social media. On top of that, phone screens can make your eyes hurt and feel more tired. I used to have my phone at the lowest brightness all the time on low power mode with night shift on, but that really doesn’t make a difference. Being off of a screen right before bed helps me get more sleep and wake up feeling more refreshed.

3.  Feel less competitive with others and lose the fear of missing out

Whether you are aware of it or not, social media subconsciously makes you more competitive and you constantly compare yourself to others — in a very negative way. Instagram posts are an illusion of real life: only the best moments can be posted and be perfectly edited to appeal to your friends and family. Pictures can’t tell a story as well as a face-to-face conversation can. When one of my Snap streaks hit a year, I felt so accomplished — for about two minutes. After that, it was back to snapping people constantly to increase my Snap score to look cooler and fit in. Then that same streak hit two years, but I felt no different. Now that streak is at two and a half years and I couldn’t care less. I’d break it, but I don’t want to upset the person on the other end. Along with social media giving you this false idea of accomplishment, it gives you the fear that you’re missing out on something vital — memes, gossip, you name it — to keep you checking again and again. There hasn’t been a single thing that I’ve missed in the past four weeks that I couldn’t find out from another source.

4. You don’t look at your phone while driving

We all know that it’s a bad thing to look at your phone while driving. I thought I never looked at my phone while I drove until I deleted my social media. There were times that I was sitting in traffic and would pick up my phone without realizing it. I feel safer and more focused now knowing that nothing is going off on my phone for me to check while I’m driving. And you realize how much others use their phones while they drive — and even while they sit in class.

5. You feel more focused and less anxious

Social media gives you an overload of information that immediately causes stress. We’ve all been there: we post a photo on Instagram and stare at our phone to see all of the likes coming in and it’s hard to turn off the phone. The constant vibrations, bells and rings that come from social media are a huge distraction and make you feel overwhelmed. Since there’s nothing that will cause my phone to go off (other than a text or call), I can focus on what needs to be done.

6. Stop obsessing over the past and be more in the moment

Social media gives us an easy way for us to remind ourselves of the past. Scrolling to the bottom of someone’s Instagram account or looking through people’s old tweets makes it difficult to not feel nostalgic. Leaving social media has given me the space to focus more on myself without constantly being reminded of the past. Along with being stuck in the past, social media is a burden that takes you out of the present moment. Since I started my detox I don’t feel the compulsion to get my phone out and live my life through the lens of social media. This sounds cliched, but I feel more connected to the present moment. While social media can be a way to document your life, most of us go out and do things now just to take a picture of ourselves. I don’t want to spoil a precious moment by recording it on the phone. While there are times I do get out my phone and record, my compulsion to do that has definitely decreased.

 

These are only some of the numerous benefits that abandoning social media has taught me. Friend lists don’t always equal real friendships, and this detox has shown me who really matters in my life and whom I want to share the big moments with.

No, I don’t think social media is the devil, but most of us can admit that we use it more than we should. For now I think I’ll use my social media in moderation. I never mentioned quitting Youtube, and that’s because I still use it sparingly. I added this Chrome extension that gets rid of the “up next” column and added another extension that lets me have 45 minutes a day on Youtube before it blocks the website for the rest of the day. I also keep a vsco, but I rarely go on it unless there’s something that I really want the world to see.

I believe everyone needs a detox but doesn’t need to stay off the grid forever. They say it takes a month to break a habit, and that’s what I’ve done with social media. I didn’t really tell anyone that I was deleting my social media; I kind of just did it silently. A few people have asked me why I haven’t replied to their Snap or liked their Instagram post; however, for the most part, no one has noticed. That just goes to show how much it really matters when we obsess over which filter should go on a picture for our Snap story or what time/what caption we use for an Instagram post.

The more I realize that it doesn’t matter, the happier I feel. As the saying goes, everyone dies but not everyone lives.

About the Writer
Julia Badamo, Staff Writer

Julia Badamo is a senior at North Allegheny who joined the staff at the beginning of the second semester. Always having a deep love for writing,  she's...

1 Comment

One Response to “Social Media Detox”

  1. Lea Hendricks on May 4th, 2018 9:31 am

    A lot of what you were saying here resonated with me Julia. I deleted all my social media accounts 2 years ago and ever since I did that my perspective on social media has drastically changed. Our generation has become attached to apps that trick us into the false belief that staring at a screen connects you to the world. In my opinion, social media only hinders our ability to connect with others outside of a screen. I would venture to say that all teenagers have felt that sinking feeling of trying to hold a conversation with someone, but instead of them paying attention to you, they stare at their screens. I would encourage everyone who feels a little too attached to their social media accounts to try logging out of them for one week. You may be surprised when you find you actually don’t miss much and don’t miss them.

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