Three things I learned unplugging from social media in Silicon Valley

I run product at a startup in the Bay Area. We are a social media platform for students to share their stories, connect in community, find roommates and pretty much enjoy the sweet, sweet feeling of having just been accepted to a college. It is super fun. We even have a candy wall.

And, oh yeah, a jade sculpture from one of our investors in China…

In the land of ping pong, gongs, candy walls and jade sculptures, distractions are a plenty. On top of this, we live in Silicon Valley, where not only do we use social media obsessively like everyone else around the world, but we also build it. I recently decided I needed to get rid of social media in my life. The straight-up awesomeness that is Snapchat was deleted from my phone last week. Twitter..gone. Pinterest..so long. LinkedIn..peace out. FB..see ya! It was a straight up purging on the phone. I am still shaking.

Here are three things that I discovered over the past week (yeah, it hasn’t been that long, but hopefully still insightful),

  1. Your focus increases exponentially-social media tends to distract. We live in a world of fantastic distraction. How can one study the intricacies of a jade sculpture, when you are getting blown up on your device all day long. My own self-imposed FOMO drove me back to my apps. FOMO is the mother of wasting time. In one week of the purging, I am heads down on product, even writing my first article on Medium. Yeah, it feels good.
  2. You spend more quality time with others- Instead of checking my device religiously throughout the day, I’ve been engaging more with those in the office. More face-to-face time and more being present with people in the same room. I turned my phone off for 2 hours everyday, from 6pm-8pm to spend time with my family, look them in the eye, and invest deeper into their lives.
  3. You start to get over yourself- The evil little secret of social media (though maybe it isn’t a secret) is that it is platform to project a particular image of oneself. Like taking pictures of your jade sculpture or candy wall and posting it for the world to see, you want them to think that you are cool, that you are doing big things. The truth is that everyone of us has infinite value without having to prove it on social media. Unfortunately, we often feel a need to validate our own existence with fleeting evidence of an awesome one.

So it was only a week. Not exactly a Herculean effort. I am really missing Snapchat in particular and Insta just released that hot new live stream, which is begging me to re-download the app. Also, I am definitely not over myself and I still tune friends and family out on a regular basis.

I am not suggesting that everyone does this. However, if your job isn’t contingent on social media and you have become somewhat overwhelmed with the craziness and stress that it can bring to your life, give the purging a chance. Try it for a day, try it for a weekend. Even just try it for a few hours; whatever works for you. I think you will enjoy it and at the very least you can say something cool like, “yeah, I deleted Snapchat.” No big deal.