Being a millennial is awesome in so many ways. I’ve always considered myself lucky to be born when I was -- early enough to remember some kind of simplicity, but late enough to hop on the coattails of technologies quickening advancements. It seemed almost like night and day, going from a world with landlines and pagers to a society dominated by social media.
It began with AIM, then quickly migrated to MySpace. Facebook became a thing when I was in eighth grade, and you better believe I immediately hopped on that bandwagon. Then Youtube, Twitter and Tumblr popped up; followed by Instagram, then Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, Linkedin and so many others I can’t even keep track. Though I’ve studied digital media for the past four years, I’ve recently found myself overstimulated by it all. Facebook went from somewhere you could stay connected, to a place where people voice their self-important opinions and compare themselves to the likes of their friends. Instagram teeters on the fine line of a photo sharing app and a place of self-assessment. As for the others? We’ll that’s like entering a new world. Yet, I still find myself entering these worlds for a decent amount of time, every single day.
After spending probably way too long watching makeup tutorials, Instagram stalking numerous people I’ve never even met before and pinning outfits I’ll never be able to afford, pull off or fit into, I’ve realized that I may be using all of these tools for the wrong reasons - and probably a little too often. I love social media, but let’s be honest, we spend way too much time lost in its digital grasp. This year, I aim to cut down on my social media intake, stop comparing myself to all of these wonderful people of the internet and remember what life was like when I was younger. So if you find yourself in need of a media hiatus, and are ready to admit that relying on a red notification for your happiness might be a bit of a problem, I’m here to help. Here are some tips on how to get started, and try and brave a life with less digital distractions:
Set a specific time each day.
You may or may not be surprised by how much time you spend on social media in a day. Start off slow by setting specific time throughout your day to check up on your accounts - like during your lunch break, for an hour after work, or whenever is convenient for you - but other than that, stay away. You’ll find yourself wanting to check up on them less and less as the days go on.
Out of sight, out of mind.
When you’re not supposed to be on your phone, put it on vibrate and put it away. Put it in your desk at work, leave it in your car, put it in your purse - whatever you have to do. If your phone Isn’t glued to your hip all day, you won’t feel the urge to check it as much.
Give your phone a bedtime.
I’m sure you’ve heard before, looking at a screen all day is bad for you. Looking at a screen for two hours right before you go to sleep is even worse. Try and stay off of your phone for at least an hour before bedtime and your eyes will adjust, your mind will calm, and you’ll sleep that much better.
Give yourself a timeline.
If you’re serious about your little internet hiatus, give yourself a start and an end time and dedicate yourself to it. Three days, a week, a month, however long - but make sure you don’t cave in.
Deactivate and delete.
It’s really hard to stay committed to anything when temptation is looming over your head. Start off slow by deactivating all of your accounts except your favorite two. Ween yourself off of everything else, and then deactivate those too. Believe me, you’ll get to a point where you’ll enjoy the freedom from technology.
It doesn't have to be forever, but even a few days off of social media may be beneficial and cure you of your overstimulation. Sometimes all we need is a little step back to appreciate everything else that is right in front of our faces.