I’m not here to say something like, “I missed social media, it’s good to be back :)” because that would be a lie.
Last week, I decided to take an indefinite break from social media and deleted all apps off of my phone. I did this because I was overusing social media so much to the point that I found myself feeling more disconnected and isolated than ever.
When I signed off of my Life in Full Color Instagram account, I posted a story saying, “Bye for now” and mentioned how I thought this would be very difficult for me because I am an avid social media user. What I anticipated to be a 3-day cleanse turned into one-week hiatus.
I was pleasantly surprised because this cleanse was not difficult for me. Boring? Yes, a little. But difficult? Not at all.
The first day I noticed that my brain was trained to automatically go and open apps like Instagram, Tik Tok, and Snapchat. I literally found my hands automatically making the motion of clicking on apps where they used to be located. It took about a day to retrain my brain to stop doing this, a behavior I am used to doing every day for as long as I can remember.
Another thing I noticed, which I found interesting, was that I was looking to open my Snapchat app just to look at myself. Not to communicate with anyone or view Snapchat’s, but solely to look at my face. To fulfill this desire, I used the camera app on my phone. I was able to retrain my brain to stop doing this after 2-3 days. I find this interesting because I definitely would not say that I am looking at myself and saying, “Oh, look how beautiful I am!” I definitely look at myself and pick apart anything I can possibly think of. I was not even aware of this toxic habit of mine, but I am glad that I put an end to it.
This cleanse made me start living in the moment and allowed me to become more in touch with my feelings. This might sound funny, but I realized this on the first day that I deleted my apps when I went to pee. As I sat down on the toilet, I went to look at social media- something I guess I do often when using the restroom! Eliminating social media opened up the opportunity for me to just sit there in my feelings for those 30 seconds. Strangely, the first thing I felt was gratitude for my body. I remember thinking, “Wow, how awesome is it that my body can do this for me?” Eliminating social media allowed me to think about myself and my life instead of observing other people’s romanticized lives on the internet. This was a really good feeling.
I re-downloaded Snapchat last night, and for some reason, I thought it was going to be this super exciting experience. This was not true. After being on the app for less than 5 minutes, my anxiety levels went from 0 to 10. I never realized the impact Snapchat had on my life before. I am not quite sure what caused this anxiety, but if I had to guess, I would say that being on the app lead to feelings of jealousy, isolation, and a constant feeling of FOMO, resulting in anxiety.
I experienced absolutely no anxiety on my social media cleanse, and as soon as I re-entered the web, I opened up the door for anxiety to creep it’s way back into my life. Because of this, I deleted Snapchat again.
While social media is a great tool for seeing what my friends and relatives are up to, it isn’t a substitute for personal interaction. Since seeing people IRL is not realistic right now, I’ve been staying in touch with friends through iMessage and Facetime. It works just as well (if not better), and it feels a lot more REAL and personal. I get a lot more out of live interactions and face-to-face communication.
I used social media as an outlet, which is not a healthy thing. This cleanse taught me how to find healthy outlets replacing the internet. Instead of posting something that is on my mind to my private story, I allowed myself to sit with my feelings and correctly identify/ navigate them in healthier ways. This cleanse restored my mental and physical health by allowing me to allocate more time for other things. I began self evaluating what I truly value and distinguished that with what social media allows me to believe I value. This is my understanding of how to live my life healthier, happier, and more honest without cyberspace.
This was my first time doing something like this, and I am so glad that I did. I plan on incorporating social media cleanses into my life permanently.
There’s no need to give up technology altogether if you don’t want to. I am sharing my story to inspire you because I never anticipated these benefits to come out of this.
Read more blog posts at https://lifeinfullcolor.blog.