Check my phone.
Check my phone.
Go to class.
Check my phone.
Check my phone.
Do you see a pattern here? As a 20-year-old in the year 2018 it’s almost as if it’s unfathomable for me not to live by this standard of having a social media addiction and constantly being attached to my phone to the point that I am incapable of putting it down for even the slightest moment. Now don’t get me wrong, in all too many ways do I fit into the stereotypical “millennial” that I just described. What sets me apart is that for one week of my life I took the time to delete all of the social media apps off of my phone and see if I truly would implode or not without them. What I found was actually shocking.
The decision came off of an everyday normal conversation I’d been having with one of my best friends/roommate. The two of us have these types of conversations fairly regularly where we sit in the middle of our floor and talk for hours (typically after the 11 p.m. timeframe but that isn’t a requirement). I couldn’t tell you what was necessarily different about this conversation other than the two of us found ourselves immersed in a conversation about the downsides of social media and the insecurities it can bring out in the most confident of people.
Society, especially in relation to high school and college students, lives off of the mindset where your identity resides in how many likes you get on Instagram, how many followers you have on Twitter, or how many Snap streaks you have. If I’m being completely honest I cannot stand this mindset whatsoever. As someone who has struggled with insecurities this mindset is belittling and detrimental to me and so many others. So that night I decided why not give it a try. Why not just unplug from it all for one week?
I may never know whether I sought to discover how dependent I actually was on social media or I just wanted to see how beneficial one week free of all societal obligation to keep up an active social media persona was, I may never know, but what I do know is that it was an extremely challenging week that taught me a lot about who I am.
When I began this endeavor I gave myself some small guidelines to abide by because as a writer and a college student there are some obligations I still have that force me to need social media to certain extents. That being said I allowed myself to have social media for two reasons and two reasons only; a) to pub my articles for the week and b) during the Duke/Carolina basketball game because I was watching the game in the Dean Dome and that was my childhood dream come true. With my rules set, I set out on a perspective-altering journey.
It began Sunday night right before I went to bed. I scrolled through my feeds for one final time before hitting delete on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.
Monday morning when I woke up it was strangely odd not having any notifications, besides some emails or texts I’d received throughout the night, on my phone. As I went throughout the day the reality of not having social media set in. Countless times I found myself checking my phone only to realize that there were no apps on there for me to check, leading me to checking my Bible app multiple times throughout the day to give myself something to do. Needless to say, Monday kinda sucked.
Tuesday was slightly better, mostly because I didn’t feel as tired and for once in a really long time I actually felt rested. Throughout the day I still found myself typing in my passcode only to face the reality that there were still no social media apps on my phone. This occurred less frequently than Monday, but still showed that I had a natural habit of checking my phone far too often throughout the day.
Wednesday and Thursday were a lot easier for me as I began to feel significantly more awake throughout the day and found myself checking my phone less frequently. Now, don’t get me wrong I won’t sit here and tell you that after four days of going social media free that I was “cured” of my instilled addiction. What I can tell you is that I saw a drastic difference in my productivity and energy throughout the day. To put it into perspective for you, I found time to do the Sudoku in the student newspaper, a feat I hadn’t been able to do for nearly a year.
Granted, at the end of the week I found myself re-downloading the apps back on my phone, but now I see a change in how I approach using social media and the duration of time I spend on it throughout the day.
My week of “solitude” showed me that I don’t need social media in my life to get through the day. Yes, it is beneficial and the advancement of technology has been a blessing that we get to experience every single day, but we take advantage of that. I implore you to take one week of your life and entirely give up social media. It forces you to reflect on who you are and actually spend time in the real world communicating with people in person away from a computer or cellphone screen. A month ago I never thought I would be able to do this, and now here I am living to tell the tale.
No excuses, give up one week (that’s it). I promise one week can make such a huge difference in your life and how you approach the amount of time you spend on your phone and social media.