During a full moon in Virgo attempt to detox the ins and outs of every borough of my existence, I decided I wanted to take action on my social media habits. To merely observe whether 48hrs a week without social media had any effect on me and if so, what those effects were.
This is by no means to pedestal those who don’t use social media - believe me when I say I've come across people under the illusion they’re superior because they choose to not have social media. But you don’t deserve a medal for not posting things online. The whole ‘social media detox’ trend has definitely wavered a sense of shame towards those who do use social media and frequently post online and I don’t agree with that. Social media is wonderful - no one should feel ashamed and made to feel belittled or unintelligent because they like sharing their news on Facebook or their morning frappe on Instagram, but it’s definitely worth becoming conscious of your consumption.
I’m as partial to a good scroll as the next person. I like engaging with likeminded individuals I’m connected to online. I’ve made amazing friends and found a tribe of people who are invested in my business. Social media has brought me incredible opportunities and I would never leave the scene for good - too much of my work relies too heavily on being present on social media. But disengaging completely every once in a while has to be good for the soul right?
So I decided to select a time that would work for me. Weekends. From Friday night to Monday morning I delete my social media apps off my phone and discipline myself to not steer towards them on my desktop either. It’s funny how terrified the apps look when you go to delete them on iOS - shaking, as you temporarily kill their existence.
I initially thought that I’d spend the whole time away from social media pining to re-download the apps I’d previously given home to day-in day-out. That my index fingers would detach themselves from my hands in a full blown tantrum of betrayal. But the crazy thing is…I was fine. When I return to the online world on a Monday morning, nothing’s changed - the world hasn't fallen apart. Everything is…exactly the same.
In fact, whilst on my mini social media hiatus, I feel calmer than I’ve ever done. Last weekend I had time to read three magazines cover to cover, finish the rest of the final season of Gossip Girl (what do you mean you’ve caught me watching 800 other times?!), spend time with my Grandmother, catch up on a few exclusively peaceful night’s sleep and generally just feel a lot less frantic in my mind. I know a lot of people experience anxiety from using social media and I never really knew whether I was one of them, but since breaking up with the online world for even just a short amount of time each week, I feel extremely resonant to the idea that social media gives us extreme anxiety.
You can tell yourself as many times as you’d like that you won’t check Instagram or Twitter but unless you actually physically delete the apps, you’ve got no chance of staying away. You’ll find yourself back on the scrolling hype before you’ve even consciously caught yourself to stop. A couple of times during my social media cleanse I found myself picking up my phone, unlocking it and trying to go to an app that wasn't even there. As human beings we like to think we’re in control of our habits but the truth is, when something has been so intrinsically written into our routines, we never have as much control as we previously thought. A lot of the time, we don't even know why we go to social media. The next time you click open an app, ask yourself - what is my reason for doing so? You’ll be surprised at how void your clicking really is.
Even though during the week I have my apps re-downloaded, my weekends without give me enough clarity to feel completely reset for the week ahead. I’m also confident in saying that although the little icons are there, teasing me, I’m now inclined to not reach for them so easily. I’m more conscious to the times I mindlessly open them with no intention. There was no need to spend as much time on social media as I previously did and it took completely disengaging from it to realise that my time is extremely valuable and I should dish it out more intently and more thoughtfully. And the funny thing is, with time away from social media and being more inclined to input less time into it in the future, it’s flourished my mind with inspiration to actually be better at it. To post more meaningful content and to use it’s resources in more pro-active way. By not social-media’ing, I’m learning to be better at social-media.
I want my weekends to be a time of completely shutting off, winding down and relaxing with things I enjoy doing and people I enjoy seeing. I could never be as present and let go of the week’s weight with social media still niggling at my head. I highly recommend designating a chunk of time each week to having no trace of social media in your life. Weekends work well for me but evenings or lunchtimes might suit your lifestyle better. If your business or work really does require you to be posting on social media a lot of the time, maybe look into scheduling tools that help you remain present without physically being so. I know it can be a scary thought when you’re used to distracting yourself by dishing out a like or two when things aren't going your way, but I promise, no one is doing anything that important for you to need to be online 24/7. Everything will be waiting for you when you return. The only difference is, you’ll be seeing things through an entirely enlightened lens.
Since you are here anyway. Here are my channels to follow: