Disclaimer: I am not trying to demonize social media. As a millennial who also works in public relations, I find that a tired trope. But if you’re someone who feels like crap after checking Instagram, this might be for you.
I recently took a vacation where I was without Wi-Fi for an entire week. Being completely unplugged from the outside world concerned me at first, but breaking this habit for seven days set me on a journey I didn’t know I needed.
When my trip was over and the plane landed back in the United States, the other passengers turned on their phones. A chorus of chimes echoed around the cabin while I stared at the black box in my hand, filled with dread. I wanted to text my family, but I didn’t want to turn my phone on and deal with the barrage of notifications that had built up over the week.
Even as we made our way through customs, the anxiety remained, and I still hadn’t taken my phone off airplane mode. That’s when I came to the sad realization: I had created a life for myself that filled me with despair when I returned to it. I didn’t want to live a life that’s only bearable when I’m looking forward to vacations.
That’s when, standing in the middle of the airport, I deleted every single social media app from my phone without even checking them. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook — gone. I knew I was probably missing out on a lot from my friends and family, but I needed to make a change to alleviate all that dread.
It’s been almost a month since I wiped the slate clean, and I haven’t turned back yet. (I did re-install Pinterest, only because I love to cook and needed my recipes!) I didn’t realize how much of an impact these apps had on my self-esteem and peace of mind until I did without them. Since deleting social media apps from my phone:
- I feel more peaceful
No more push notifications calling for my attention on a regular basis. No need to fret over snap streaks, or see the latest thing that your acquaintances posted on Instagram. It’s one less facet of my life demanding attention.
- There have been less hits to my self-esteem
Logically, l know that the lives we portray on social media are fake. Emotionally, seeing pictures of random people having loads of fun, showing their toned bodies, gushing about their perfect boyfriend, etc. impacted me negatively. I compared my life to every single picture I saw. Admittedly, I’m very sensitive, and far from self-assured. But with that in mind, it’s for the best that I don’t regularly check Instagram because it was becoming masochistic.
- I have time for other hobbies
When I would check Instagram and Twitter, I’d fall into a rabbit hole for an hour (or more) at a time, completely forgetting the world around me. Since I’ve cut out social media, I’ve gone to sleep earlier, read three books, started writing again, and organized my Gmail. Of course, correlation doesn’t equal causation; deleting an app won’t immediately result in a burst of productivity. But for me, removing social media from my daily routine set me on the right track of making decisions beneficial to my well-being.
- I do things for myself, not for how they’ll look to other people
Whenever I took a photo on vacation, my first thought was how it’d look on Instagram. Whenever I go out on the weekends, I used to make sure to take at least one fun Snapchat to prove that I have a life. Once I got rid of those apps, that wasn’t an option anymore. It took me a while to get rid of that “how will this look on social media?” impulse, but now that I have, I like that all the pictures of the amazing things I’ve done the past month are private gems for myself. I don’t need to prove that I do fun things — I just need to do them. Focusing on and enjoying myself is all that matters.
I might eventually phase social media back onto my phone, but as of right now I have no plan for that. After checking in with myself, prioritizing my personal growth, and making a sacrifice for the sake of my mental health, a break from social media was exactly what I needed.
Author: Erin Ford
Author Bio: Erin is an extroverted advice-giver, traveler, and wannabe chef who has adored writing since she can remember.Erin is usually talking to her sister, occasionally feeding feral cats, and always just trying her best in general. She hopes that by sharing her knowledge, she’ll be able to help those facing similar challenges she’s faced.
Link to social media or website: http://erin-ford.weebly.com