I needed a break. I needed a break to sort everything out. And by “everything,” I mean life. Life was being a tad bit overwhelming, and I was not coping well. Social media, especially, was definitely not helping. I am the type of person who uses social media because I truly love it and believe that it can open up wonderful opportunities. I am extremely active on Instagram, but have recently started using Twitter and Facebook more since the launch of my blog.
With school done, and not having a full time job, I had a lot of spare time on my hands. I have not been productive and I have not been using my time wisely. I found myself scrolling through Instagram and Twitter for hours looking at articles, memes, and cute animal videos.
Despite social media being super awesome and fun, it can also be detrimental to an individual’s mental health. You are constantly bombarded with images of perfect bodies, lives, clothes, and so forth. And to a large extent, it's not good to be overexposing yourself to things like that. It also wastes a lot of your time. You look up from your phone realizing that you did not accomplish anything and start to feel really shitty about yourself.
I knew I needed a break. Not only from social media, but people in general. Sometimes you gotta be alone, go to counselling and just chill by yourself. So I slowly started cutting things out.
How to reduce useless social media and phone usage:
- Declutter - start by getting rid of unnecessary apps you don't use (For me this was Snapchat, Tumblr, games, and food apps)
- Put your phone on Airplane mode before going to bed
- Don’t use your phone as an alarm
- Keep your phone as far away from your bed or sleeping/resting area, so it's not the last and first thing you see
- Turn off those goddamn notifications. (Yup, mute those group chats, and turn off those Insta and Twitter alerts and notifications)
I did not use social media for a week. This is how I did it.
(Some of you are probably like “that’s nothing”. But trust me, to a person who is constantly on Instagram and Twitter, it's a big deal.)
- First I started by not using social media after a certain time, so after 11:30 pm, it was a social media free zone. It did not matter if someone messaged me or tagged me in a photo, I was not going to look or answer.
- The first thing I did when I woke up was go to the washroom, and NOT look at my phone.
- I told my friends who I talk to a lot on apps, about how I needed space and a break from social media.
- Then I slowly started getting rid of the apps. First one was Facebook, then Twitter, then came Instagram. (note: I did not get rid of Facebook Messenger, since this is how I actually kept in touch with people, however I did minimize how much I spoke to people on there)
- At this point my phone was social media free but I still allowed myself to use social media on the computer. (I am a creature of habit, thus I took baby steps to accomplish my goals)
- For my computer, I used this program called “Self Control” and it blocks off any websites you want for a desirable amount of time.
- I blocked off Facebook first and then Twitter.
- I did it slowly. For the first day I blocked off Twitter for half of a day and the next day, I did not use Twitter for the whole day.
- I was not perfect during this week. For example, sometimes I tweeted and even checked my Facebook timeline. However I did not use Instagram at all. But from the week onwards I used little to no social media.
Doing this was so liberating. I had a lot of time to think and reevaluate my goals, and do activities that I would usually not have time for. After I did this, I realized I had SO much free time on my hands and that I wasted so much of my life mindlessly scrolling through my phone for no reason. I also needed to figure some things out in my personal life, and this social media and phone break was very much needed and appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, I am still going to use social media. In fact, Instagram and Facebook are my main platforms for displaying my work and life. That being said, I will try to use it less for mindless scrolling and more for content sharing and networking.
So to answer the question, “does social media make us unhappy?” The answer is yes. Yes, to some extent it does. But I believe it does not have to. If used in moderation, social media can be great. However, it also feels great not using it. It's liberating not sharing every moment. It’s wonderful to not see a bunch of useless shit about people you don't care about. In conclusion, this was a very peaceful and calming experience. I highly recommend everyone to try this. It’s great.
*Note: Please let your loved ones know if you plan on cutting out social media or not using your phone for a while as they might get worried by your silence.*
Thanks for reading.