I woke up on the first day of Lent to no Facebook notifications, no Twitter DM's, or liked Instagram posts. I only had two texts, an email from my professor, and a CNN news update. I got to snooze my alarm a few more times than usual because I'd usually spend those extra thirty minutes checking social media before class. Day One without social media started off on the right foot.
And then here's what happened:
1. I started sending everyone in my contacts 8-ball game requests.
Before, when I was sitting in class waiting for the professor to show up, I would scroll through social media. So when I grabbed my phone to pass the time, I decided that maybe a game of pool would get the job done. But that got old after the first month.
2. I was the only one who had no idea what was being discussed when talking about a Snapchat story.
I sat down at lunch on the very first day without social media and the first thing a friend said was, "Did you see my story?" Since I hadn't seen it, he showed me on his phone instead. That was my first realization of just how much we let others into our lives through social media.
3. I stopped taking Instagram-worthy pictures.
Instead, I just took pictures. (Like that funny one of my dad showing me his new tool set.) I honestly thought I'd stop taking so many pictures because I was not going to post them. But I found that I take pictures just because I like to and not just because I liked to post them. I patted myself on the back for that.
4. I had to actually ask people what they did last weekend.
Normally we just know what all our friends are up to at all times. It was really weird not knowing, at all, what anyone did unless I had texted them to ask. It's funny because with social media we know what everyone is always doing whether we care to know or not.
5. I realized that I did not need to know what every single person that I had on social media was doing.
And I did not care for every person that I have on social media to know what I was doing every day of my life.
6. My grandma called and asked if I was okay.
After not posting at least a picture a week, my family started to worry about me. No post on Facebook means that I was either sick or dead. Sorry for scaring you grams.
7. I found myself texting more than usual.
The only way for me to see what someone was doing was to ask them personally. I normally wouldn't have texted as frequently, with some, as I did during Lent.
I always thought of social media as a great way to keep everyone connected. And it definitely does. But, it sort of restricts how connected we are. We think we see how someone is doing by their posts so we don't take that time to personally communicate with them.
8. I was to blame for the ending of the snap streaks.
Once you've snapped someone for 60+ days, it's not pretty when you end that.
9. I had nothing to do but stare forward when waiting on my professors to get to class.
This actually only happened one day. The next time I had time before my class, out of habit, I got on my phone. But since I could not check my social media, I began looking through my old pictures. This became something I did nearly when I thought I had nothing better to do.
10. But, I found a lot of better things to do.
With all the time I previously spent scrolling through my feeds, I now used that time to partake in more productive activities. I began going for walks. I read books. (Three in one week... one week!) I got my homework done before the hour it was due. I went to church more than just on Sunday mornings. I began playing my guitar, again. I wrote daily. I watched the Netflix that I used to pay to never watch.
11. I didn't lose my mind. Surprisingly.
I honestly thought giving up social media would be the hardest possible task in the world. Yes, it was difficult. But, I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would. After being informed that Sunday's were cheat days, I didn't feel the need to redownload my social media.
12. I generically snap chatted.
If something was Snapchat-worthy, I would take the picture and send it with a caption through text. You've got to work with what you've got. And here are some funny "snaps". Enjoy!
13. I had my friends snapping me through text, too.
12. I had more time for volunteer work.
I had been avoiding committing a lot of time to my volunteer work. But since I realized how much time I actually had, I committed to more hours of volunteering. I have always wanted to help more people and, now, I could. I complained that school was taking up time that I could be out helping people. But, in all reality, I was wasting my own time on my phone.
13. My friends would make jokes about all that I was missing.
At least once a day I would get a text saying to look at the picture I posted of you or go like my tweet or watch this video of this little girl singing. At first, I think it was out of habit. But after the first week, I know they were just trying to make staying off social media harder for me than it was, to begin with. Thankfully, my friends are not only... but also very thoughtful. If they felt I was missing out on something major, I would receive a screenshot revealing the latest and greatest news on social media.
14. I began to realize that I wasn't the one missing out.
The ones who spend hours of their day on their phones are the ones who are truly missing out. Without having social media, I'll be honest, there isn't much to do on your phone. I actually had one of the young girls I volunteer with get on my phone, then ask me why I even had a phone if I didn't have any cool apps. (I guess she didn't consider my Bible app and Spotify as "cool.") But when I wasn't using those apps or taking pictures, my attention was not on my screen. Instead, I paid more attention to my surroundings, to the real world. I always used to think that I did a good job of acknowledging all that was good in the world. But these past 40 days, I was forced to truly appreciate life. I do, now, in a way that I never have before.
I didn't think I would live, but I did. And, I am now here to urge anyone reading this article to do the same. It doesn't have to be 40 days or even a month. It doesn't have to be all social media; maybe just delete one app. You'll see that just a day without checking Twitter or Instagram will allow you to appreciate that day and all you did in it, more than ever before. Our lives shouldn't be lived through technology. And, unfortunately, that's how most of us are living. I don't think that is how it was meant to be.
So, go ahead, give it a try, and you, too, will see.
XO & best wishes,