As a Communications Studies major, I’ve admittedly noticed a personal lack and worsening of my communication skills as a college student. So, I took it upon myself to delete my social media apps off my phone for one week. I deleted Twitter, Instagram, VSCO, Snapchat and Facebook. Curiously, I wanted to see if my life as a student and a friend would change and if my communications skills would improve. During this week of no social media, I recognized change and progress.
I have complied a list of the eight most noticeable changes and observations I gathered during the week in which I fully unplugged.
1. Getting out of bed wasn’t so terrible.
My morning routine consists of rolling over, grabbing my phone, and opening Snapchat. It’s almost become an instinct of mine—but I can’t put into words why I open the app in the first place. Most of the time, it makes my getting-out-of-bed experience longer than it needs to be, all because I want to “see what everyone’s up to.” This past week, I decided to start my mornings off by listening to music. I utilized Spotify and played varieties of pump up music to make my mornings a bit easier. Through this, I noticed how much easier it was to get out of bed; I was excited to wake up, turn on some tunes, make breakfast, and relax before attending to my days’ plans. I found myself ready on time, happier, and I even found some new music along the way!
2. Anxiety? Not a question.
Our generation is the generation of FOMO. Ironically, social media is our inside key to the outside world. Through these apps of connection, we consider the lives of the people we follow on a personal level that can’t be seen without social media. We can all admit that through Snapchat, it is easy to make a small gathering look like a blast even if it’s just a few friends hanging out. We can utilize this app to deceive and exclude, and sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it. During my unplugged week, I loved how present I felt; at no time did I feel I should be elsewhere, nor did I feel preoccupied. I realized that I don’t need to document every little thing I do through videos and pictures. The idea of being present has lost its zing which is heart-wrenching because when we look back we aren’t going to remember the time we spent scrolling through our screens… and at this day and age, we spend a lot of time doing so.
3. My productivity level was through the roof.
As the week I chose to unplug was the week before spring break, midterms were in full swing. Although I only had to take one midterm (lucky me), I knew I had a lot of work to get done going into my week. It’s very easy to get distracted by social media when studying, and through my years of schooling I have succumbed to a pathetic study diversion—I permit myself to a “5-minute phone break” if I get a decent amount of work done. Ridiculous, I know, but this is something I had to refrain from during my unplugged week considering my favorite apps of distraction were gone. Poof! In lieu of those pitiful breaks, I found myself taking less study breaks and replacing “5- minute phone breaks” with making myself a cup of coffee, creating a to-do list, or even watching a few minutes of Friends—all things good and beneficial to me as a student.
4. I listened to people.
I’ve always viewed myself in a positive light when it comes to listening to others- whether it be entertaining a quick rant, hearing out friends who want to vent about their relationships, or simply small talk with family and friends, but lately I’ve felt guilty. The only way I can describe how I’ve felt is as such: social media’s consuming power has taken away from my ability to be a good listener. Sad, isn’t it? The initial thought of these two ideas and their correlation seems subtle and light, but social media’s affects range on a large scale. We learn the importance of “listening without interruption” and “being there for people you love” in elementary school, and it concerns me that something so trivial as an iPhone app is taking away from such a key skill. The way I felt when I spoke to people during my week was different. I felt engaged and present, as if I was truly feeling every word that the person in which I conversed with said. It made me feel good, like a real human being.
5. There are some cool apps out there…
So, in place of my social media apps, I wanted to find 2-3 replacement apps. Through my App Store search, I came across two fantastic apps: Daily Yoga and Calm. Daily Yoga is an app that gives you tutorials on yoga lessons—how awesome? I was flabbergasted when I realized that the time I normally spent on Instagram was being used to learn yoga poses and better my overall health. But Calm—my proudest find. This app is a meditation and relaxation app. It has several settings that enable you to listen to calming music, view beautiful sceneries like waterfalls and ocean waves, and it allows you to learn how to properly meditate. So yes, there is more than just social media out there! I plan on keeping my replacement apps as I enjoy them even after my unplugged week.
6. I’ve quit the scrolling game.
Genuinely, I’m so glad that my fingers lost their “touch.” Once I re-downloaded my apps, I noticed that my first thought wasn’t to spend minutes at a time scrolling through newsfeed or timelines. My phone usage has been limited and I have learned to spend more time doing. Through my week, I noticed that a lot of my social media anxiety came from scrolling. I allowed myself to become engulfed in what others were doing and posting. But why? I created an addiction, and I didn’t even know it.
7. I don’t really care what you’re up to or who you’re with...
Seriously though, why are we so curious about what other people are doing? Whether it be checking Snapchat to see that a friend is at the library, or viewing photos on Facebook from a friend who is vacationing in a luxurious place—what is the root of this curiosity? Is it boredom? Or is it genuine interest? Admittedly, I believe that a lot of the photos and posts that I care to view derive from boredom. Yes, there are times when a close friend of mine is traveling and I want to keep up with him or her via Facebook and Instagram, but at the end of the day, my persistence with checking social media absolutely derives from boredom. Throughout my week, I enjoyed that no one knew what I was up to. This reminded me that the people who are most important and truly care about me will keep in touch via call or text; this is something that we tend to forget in our technological age of advancement. And yes, I enjoyed being off the grid.
8. Table manners are on a downhill spiral.
Typically, I’ve never thought to look and survey how many people around me are using their cell phones in a specific place or at a particular time. With the detachment of social media, I observed a lot—sometimes accidentally. At one instance, I was going out to dinner and waiting to be seated. As I looked around me, I looked at the left section of the small restaurant. To my surprise, I counted ten out of twelve people using their cell phones during their meal and more than half of which were adults. I could not believe my eyes; what could be so important at that very moment? I felt saddened. Going out to dinner has always been a treat for my family and I, and that’s because it’s a time in which everyone gathers together and bonds without interruption. It’s easy to pick up the telephone during dinner time at home, but going out to a nice restaurant is supposed to be an experience. Why spend the money or time if we aren’t going to act appropriately? Something I too am guilty of is snagging a photo of my meal if it's aesthetically pleasing. As I saw other people take pictures of their food I felt embarrassed… I do this? Really? If we lose our manners our communications skills weaken, our time together becomes wasted, and we are pit falling into this epidemic of social media and screen addiction.
So here you have it! My week fully unplugged. I dare you to challenge yourself to unplug for a single week and see how your life changes.