Social media addiction is real. If you yourself aren't addicted to social media, then you probably know someone who is. Nowadays, it seems we all are. I took 21 days to cleanse/detox from social media; here's what I learned.
I chose 21 days for a reason. There's been some back and forth on the idea that it takes 21 days to form a habit. I have done my share of 21-day cleanses before, and have been successful in doing so. Therefore, I believe it can translate to social media as well. Also, 21 days feels enough like a reach goal, while accomplishable at the same time. Basically, it's not too little and it's not too much.
I'm not the person who is going to tell everyone ahead of time that I'm planning a social media hiatus. You know the person I'm talking about; they make a big ol' post saying "21 days off of social media, DM me for my number." No. No. No. If someone REALLY needs you, they'll find a way to contact you. I mention this because to me, it demonstrates even more so how attached we are to the effects of social media-ing. I did this experiment for me for several reasons:
1. I wanted to see the effects that it had on my health. Mentally and emotionally, mostly, but also just overall.
2. I wanted to experiment the effects of social media detoxing with friendships. As in, do people reach out? Do they even notice? How long will they go without "hearing" from me before they wonder?
3. I wanted to break a habit. Like I said, I am too obsessed with social media.
4. And mostly, when I got the notification that you're seeing below, I was stunned.
5 hours A DAY on social media?! I pick up my phone almost 100 times a day?!
I am excited about today's post! During this time I had many friends be like "did you see xyz" to which I would respond: "No, I'm actually doing a social media cleanse right now," and they'd say, "NO WAY! How is it?!", in a tone of shock and disbelief. Everyone was curious, and this leads me to my first two learning points.
1. I learned that people don't call/text you anymore because they just keep up with your life on social media. I had a few people say, "Hey I am calling since I haven't seen you post," or, "I was wondering why you hadn't posted." Or if I asked them about their life, "Aren't we friends on social media?" It's very sad to me.
2. I learned that people are addicted to social media. There's part of me that feels isolated if I haven't gone online and interacted with someone. This is NOT healthy. On another note, I would be sitting at stoplights during this cleanse, open my phone and swipe over in an attempt to pull up my maps app only to realize that I was about to press the button where my Instagram app was. It's become muscle memory.
3. I turned down my AC. This is weird, right? Having an addict mentality like myself, everything is a scarcity. Food? There may not be enough. Love? I don't deserve it. Money? Don't waste it. So when it comes to my thermostat, I am cheap. But since I had extra time to be thoughtful about my decisions, I realized I was not comfortable in my own home. It increased my awareness.
4. I learned my screen time decreased by over 50% the first week. Excuse me, what? HALF OF MY TIME. Note: the "social media" category is Pinterest as classified by Apple's standards. Pinterest is not social media to me by the standards in which I did this little cleanse.
5. I gained knowledge. Where I would traditionally peruse Instagram or Facebook during down time or boredom, I chose to read articles from Pinterest or through online health magazines instead. Not much knowledge is gained when I'm trolling Facebook.
6. I learned being on my phone so much ruined my eyesight. Having the screen so close to my face all of the time has messed with my eyesight and I will likely have to get a prescription soon.
7. Free time? This one is interesting. I have a hunch you're expecting me to talk about how much more free time I had. Obviously I will have more free time. The interesting point here is, it's all about how we spend our time. I can have the free time, but even if I'm not scrolling through social media, I could very easily waste my time doing something else. It's all up to me how I spend my free moments.
8. I have slept better. For many, many months prior I had to take Unisom every night to go to sleep. I'm so excited that I haven't had to take it since about a week into this little experiment. I think it's partly the screen time, partly just not being so obsessed with what everyone else is doing, and partly the lack of spiraling down the news feed tunnel keeping me awake longer. When I get in bed, I fall asleep quickly.
9. I didn't feel guilty for not answering people's texts right away. When I post stories to my Instagram, I find myself immediately thinking: "I wonder if this person is going to see it before I text them back." And then I feel guilty, and that's such a waste of energy.
10. I was less anxious and more mindful. Like I mentioned above, I had more time for mindfulness. Where I would check social media in the morning, I meditated instead. Where I would scroll my news feed at stoplights, I sat in silence and practiced noticing what I was thinking and feeling in my body. This adds up to healthy habits and makes me a better person over time.
Now, don't get me wrong. I like social media and the ability to keep in touch with long distance friends and family. I love being able to motivate and inspire others. I like having it as a means to growing a business. But I do not like how much time I spent on it. Therefore, I have now limited myself to checking my feeds once daily. That's all I need and that still leaves room to incorporate both the lifestyle I built above as well as the benefits mentioned a few sentences back. Consensus: I very much recommend doing this. Let me know how it works for you!