What I Learned From Taking a Break from Social Media
Last month I decided to take a break from social media for seven days. Seven days without Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Why? Long story short, I was seeking validation in likes and comments. I started looking at life as a competition with every other person on social media. I didn’t like the thoughts that ran through my head when I saw someone’s aesthetically pleasing photo on Instagram or saw someone’s travel story on Facebook. My drive started to become about being better than other people. When I thought about who I wanted to be as a person, it didn’t match up with what I was becoming.
Taking a break from social media was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I have not had a very hard life.
Should you take a break for social media? Below are personal pros and cons from my experience to help you make the decision.
Pros and Cons of Taking a Break from Social Media
1. I would take a legit photo of my food and have no idea what to do with it
So many great photos of what I was eating and no one to share them with.
2. I didn’t have anything to do with my hands while waiting for friends
I met up with a friend for dinner. As usual my anxiety of being late made me 20 minutes early. I would have usually just skimmed Facebook and Instagram while waiting. I ended up awkwardly sitting outside the restaurant humming for 20 minutes. I did some time on Buzzfeed, but there are so many quizzes and listacles a girl can take.
3. I had funny musings and didn’t know how to tell the world
So many hilarious thoughts and internal monologues wasted!
- Today someone told me I looked like I lost weight. As a reward I proceeded to stuff my face with pizza, Reese’s Pieces, and beer.
- Remember that one time I ate a pound of Pad Thai because my brother suggested I work out instead of eat when I’m feeling stressed?
- At what point do I become Olivia Benson?
- Mom: Play that song from Frost. The one that Eliza sings
4. I missed important updates from friends
I did open FB a couple of times during the week. This doesn’t count because I only opened it to check my business account for any messages from current and prospective clients. My rule when doing this was no scrolling, just go to facebook and immediately go to my business page. One of these fews times I opened FB I was greeted by a photo of my dear friend who had just given birth. Up until that moment I didn’t really miss social media, but seeing that photo of my happy friend, her family and its newest addition reminded me of one of the few good reasons to be on social media.
5. I missed interacting with people
I’m a busy person. It’s hard to fit in social time with friends and family during a busy work week. Social media allowed me to interact with these people I call friends and family. It allowed me to be updated on their lives, the new additions to family, the new accomplishments. It allowed me to quickly comment on someone’s page or photo and let them know I was thinking of them. Social media helped me feel part of a community even though I was physically by myself.
1. I was way more productive
Usually my work time was regularly interrupted by social media checks. Whenever I got to a point in my work that was boring or hard I would take a break and check social media. Taking a break from work isn’t bad, but taking a break every time you run into something that actually requires effort? That’s bad. Without social media to be my crutch I powered through tasks, both boring and hard. I started new tasks/goals that required hard work and effort and enjoyed the process.
2. I read an actual book.
I used to end my days by scrolling through social media. Now I pick up a book. I would like to tell you I read really amazing and life changing books, but I actually just read fluffy romance books that required no mental effort whatsoever. It was a great way to turn off my brain and decompress from the day.
3. My anxiety lessened
I always got so much anxiety looking at other people’s photos and their lives and their achievements. I always felt like I was missing out, that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t living a great life. I was comparing my life to tiny square photos full of what I thought as “perfect hipster lives.” When I stopped looking at those photos and starting focusing on what exists in my own life I realized how awesome my life already is. The anxiety that I wasn’t good enough or that I didn’t have the right hand crafted items went away.
4. The feeling of being in competition with everyone else went away
I started to be competitive with myself, which pushed me harder to complete tasks and goals.
5. My phone battery lasted a lot longer
Apparently refreshing social media and constantly fetching updated news/photos takes a lot of battery power. While off social media I charged my phone once a day. By the end of the day my battery was till about 50%, which for an iPhone is a pretty big deal.
Now that I have the freedom to check social media to my hearts content I realize I don’t want to. Okay that’s not 100% true. A week off from social media wasn’t enough to completely change my addiction, but it was enough to make me realize I had an addiction and that it had majorly impacted my life in a negative way. I do make it a point to only check Instagram once a day, usually at night. Facebook, on the other hand, is still something I check multiple times a day…mostly at work. I think I checked it mostly out of boredom than anything else.
For me taking a break from social media was more than worth it and I think it’s worth it for most people. So I challenge you, my faithful reader, to take a break and report back with your findings.
Update 11/14/2016: After the election I’ve decided to take another break from social media. I encourage you to do the same if, like me, you have a tiny little shriveled up raisin heart due to everything that’s going on. .