What I Learned from a Week with No Social Media

So I don’t have a picture or anything to spruce up this post, but it’s been over a week since I did my social media detox and I owe you an update. I actually did it! I went an entire week without social media from January 24th-30th. I will admit I did check facebook twice, but only to look quickly through my notifications because I needed some school updates. Other than that, nothing! This is one of the few challenges I’ve done where I was successful and it felt great to actually accomplish something (even if it’s something small). Here are some things I noticed during the week and after, once I started using social media again.

My mind felt really quiet. My mind is constantly racing around all over the place and push notifications do not help at all. If I’m ever studying or meditating and forget to turn my phone on airplane mode my concentration will be broken as soon as my phone vibrates. And I can’t get myself to focus until I look at it to sate my curiosity. Is it a text? Is it a tweet reply? Is it an emergency? Most of the time it’s nothing. Without my phone constantly lighting up and vibrating, it was much easier to focus my thoughts on the here and now. When I had fewer things demanding my attention, I could actually focus on things I wanted to, like reading.

I still obsessively looked at my phone. Probably the most noticable thing was that I still pull out my phone every three minutes, unlock it, and check to see if there’s anything new (there wasn’t, since there were no apps that had notifications except email). It’s amazing how our phones have become our security blanket in “awkward” social situations. Sitting by yourself? Open your phone! Lull in the conversation? Open your phone! Waiting in line? Open your phone! I spent a lot of time looking at how other people are also attached to their phones and iPads and I noticed that people are REALLY uncomfortable being by themselves for even a second. Just look at a line in any store and notice that EVERYONE is on their phone. Even children! This goes hand in hand with mindfulness. People are afraid to be alone with their thoughts so they seek constant external distraction and this leads to all sorts of dysfunctional behaviors. I kept thinking to myself how crazy it is to keep opening a phone for no reason (in my case), yet somehow it had become a habit that I still haven’t been able to break. Maybe that will be my next challenge.

I thought a lot about why I use social media. I guess I use it because, like everyone else, I want to be liked and accepted through likes, comments, and follows. Somehow these things give me value. It’s human to want to belong. No one wants to be by themselves or be an outcast, and on the flip side, everyone wants fame and social media can give you that. Every like and follow is validation that your life is cool and worth living, the way you dress is cool, the food you eat is cool. Let’s be honest, getting your ego stroked feels bomb. Reassurance that you’re cool and awesome feels great. But that kind of satisfaction is short lived. The only way to fuel that good feeling is to constantly consume new products, new clothes, keep up with trends, keep posting new content all the time, be witty, be funny, be good looking, and everyone knows you can’t keep up with this forever. None of these things are permanent and they take tremendous amounts of money, time and effort to maintain. Anyone who emotionally eats or compulsively shops knows that external gratification won’t make the empty feeling go away. Validation over social media won’t either. You really have to take the time to get to know yourself to find real, lasting happiness.

I meditated every day, had some great spiritual talks with Daniel and my dad, and have a much clearer insight to my fears and anxiety. Overall I felt less dysfunctional. I have a long way to go before I am functioning at near-optimal levels, but I made some serious progress regarding my anxiety issues in the past two weeks.

It’s been a week since I went without social media entirely, and the apps are slowly making their way back on to my phone. I’m considering deleting my accounts all together to finally rid myself of social media but I haven’t made the leap. I would really like a healthy relationship with it because it can be such an important tool in marketing and branding yourself but at the same time I don’t know if I can manage them without them consuming too much time and attention. I guess that’s something to work into my mindfulness practice.

Overall, this experience was 10/10, would recommend. Take some time away from your electronics and notice what’s going on around you, even if it’s one day. See how your life can start to change.

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