A couple weeks ago, I was on my phone, scrolling through social media when I noticed that I had been on my phone for 2+ hours. Where had the time gone? What could I have done with that time instead? Feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by the content I was consuming, I decided to delete Instagram off my phone for the rest of the day. That 1 day turned into 2 days, mostly because I forgot about the app entirely. When I remembered Instagram after subconsciously clicking around for it and finding it wasn’t where it normally was on my phone, it had been nearly three days without it, so I decided I’d download it the next day. Then, when the book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier arrived at my door, I dove into it and soon after, encouraged myself to try going an entire week without Instagram, or any other social media.
Jaron’s book taught me a lot about how social media works behind the scenes, and how it could be effecting us physiologically. It made me increasingly more aware of my time spent on social media as well as my behaviors associated with the apps. I highly recommended checking out to book, whether you’re planning on deleting your accounts, or not!
Right before I began writing this post, Nathaniel Drew uploaded a new video where he decided to log off social media for a month. Instantly, I felt defeated. What would my experience have to offer that his didn’t? Yet, I quickly remembered that everyone’s relationship with social media is widely different. Everyone’s views of social media, as well as how the react without it, are completely individual. Furthermore, whatever type of Instagram or social media account you have, and regardless of your relationship to it, I think we are all aware of the downsides and potential damages of social media. Social media is a major time-waster and leads to increased levels of depression, anxiety, comparison, sleep-deprivation, and loneliness. I mean, heck–just moments ago I randomly picked up my phone to scroll for no reason and wasted about 30 minutes comparing myself when I could’ve been writing.
I’m not here to tell you to delete all of your social media accounts. Evidently, even after reading TAfDYSMARN (I had to shorten it, haha) I still kept mine. Although, I only re-downloaded Pinterest and Instagram onto my phone and will only check my Facebook online.
However, a few things did happen when I went without social media for a week. A lot of things, really, most of which I didn’t notice until I had redownloaded Instagram onto my phone. So maybe this post will inspire you to log off for a day, for a week, and experience, well… life a little more. Your experience without social media may be different, but this is what happened to me!
Here are the 7 things that happened when I got off social media for a week.
1. Life got quieter, and simpler
The first thing I always notice after I delete social media off my phone is how quiet life suddenly becomes. My surroundings feel more spacious, and so does my mind. I can think more easily, and the amount of overall clutter in my life seems reduced. I even felt more in-tune with myself. It was a very peaceful time.
2. I started truly observing my surroundings
One day, I went grocery shopping with my dad and didn’t bring my phone at all. There were a few times when he went to grab something and asked me to stay with the cart. While I waited, I simply stared and observed. A time I would’ve normally spent scrolling, or checking something on my phone, I just looked around because all I had was myself and the space around me. I found that people watching and even reading the backs of boxes is a much more entertaining way to pass the time than scrolling, even if it is quiet and not as easy to do.
3. I began making decisions faster and did things for myself
There were many moments when I just got up and did something without asking anyone whether or not I should. I’m not sure how this correlated with being off social media, but I noticed a huge difference in my confidence concerning my desire to do things. I’d get up and go run, or pick up a new shirt at the store, or cook myself a fun meal, all without posting about it nor searching for validation. I felt immensely more connected to myself and to my wants.
4. Loneliness sank in
This is something I didn’t notice until I re-downloaded social media. During the week without it, I had felt a little… off. As I mentioned above–life got quieter. But even more so, I felt like I had very little friends. I’m not sure why, because I had the same amount of close relationships with and without social media, but then it hit me: with social media, there’s this allusion that you have more friends than you really do. Your mind is constantly flooded with messages, likes, comments, and you’re always engaged with others, even from opposite ends of the world. When I realized social media had made me feel lonely because it took me out of my online social bubble, I worked to affirm that I was loved by the people in my life and worked to heal through my feelings.
What was most interesting about this was the fact that I felt lonely without social media, not while on it, and this scared me the most. I realized I had become dependent on it for connection.
5. I began reading more
Time I once spent scrolling is now spent reading. I won’t lie, however; many times, I have picked up my phone the moment I sat down to read and ended up scrolling for longer than originally planned (social media remains just as addicting). However, it’s still surprising that I’ve even made time for reading. I read about 5 books in a single week, which is pretty wild for me. And it was all because I had more time and found that I prefer reading over scrolling, anyway.
6. All of the stress surrounding social media vanished
I was once incredibly stressed about my Instagram theme, my followers, likes, etc.. I hate to admit it, but it pretty much consumed me. Because I’m a young author and blogger, my online presence felt so important. And to some extent, it is. But, when I spent that time away for it all, I realized that I’d rather build my real, authentic self over a version of myself online for followers. I certainly did a lot of self-exploration concerning my stress surrounding social media. I found that, with a break, I had naturally created a healthier relationship with social media, because I think that when we’re on it every day, all of the time, we’re never properly stepping away from it all and being true to ourselves.
And now, I feel encouraged to post photos that I like without worrying about what other people think, or how my photos all look together.
For more on this topic, check out my post: How to create a healthier relationship with social media.
7. I realized how little I actually enjoy social media
One of my reasons for being stressed about social media/being on it all the time was that social media was fun, and I enjoyed it. However, when I spent a week without it, I began to lean toward other hobbies, like exercise, reading, writing creatively, yoga, meditation, etc. and found that I liked these hobbies so much more. I started doing more things that I enjoyed, realizing that I didn’t ever truly enjoy social media. At least, not to the extent that I thought I did.
There’s nothing wrong with logging on for an hour to catch up with family and friends and share a pretty photo you like. However, I’ve come to learn, especially after reading TAfDYSMARN, that social media is pretty much an allusion controlled by AI and algorithms put in place so that you’ll spend more money. (I highly suggest you pick up the book to learn all about what goes behind the scenes of social media apps–Jaron goes super in-depth!)
And once again, I’m not telling you to rid your apps, because I still have mine. Going on that week break really opened my eyes to everything around me besides social media and the impact it can have on our lives if we’re not careful. Not only do I now open the apps less frequently, but I often delete it randomly just because I’m in need of a break.
That’s the beauty of all of this, I think: Finally realizing we can take breaks from social media.
I hope this post brought you some insight regarding social media and how different our lives can be without it. I don’t know about you, but as a millennial, sometimes I wish I was born without social media to just experience things without feeling inclined to post about it. Because I do live in this time, I just have to work to get off when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and know that an online presence isn’t necessary 24/7.
Have a lovely rest of your week, and a wonderful Thanksgiving!