All the way back in November, I decided to take a break from social media.
I had a moment where I realized my relationship with social media was not the healthiest.
It wasn’t necessarily that I was counting likes or comparing myself to others — and because of this, it was actually harder for me to identify — but rather, it was increasing my anxiety.
I would have these extreme feelings of FOMO which would lead me to relieve these feelings by scrolling on social. It got to the point where I would be on social around 5 times an hour for around 5 minutes each time. Once I was updated with everything going on, I would feel calmer. It was eating away at my time and my mind. It was a feeling I was ashamed about and I did not know how to fix it.
After some research, I realized this was a sign of an unhealthy relationship with social media. I didn’t know how it got to this point.
I decided the best way to get over this would be to cut off completely for a week. I deleted the apps on my phone — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (and for those of you that have tried to get in contact with me on these platforms during this period, I apologize I just didn’t feel I was in a place to explain why I was taking a break).
The first few days were harder than I expected. My mind kept wandering to what I could be missing, the posts people were posting, and the events people were sharing. I would catch myself going on my phone only realizing when I couldn’t find the app I was looking for. It freaked me out how natural it was for me to be on the apps so often, how much it was part of my daily (or perhaps even hourly) routine.
Instead of spending time on social media, I decided to pick up other hobbies. I regain my love for reading for pleasure and started (and even finished) a book. I forgot how much I loved it. I even tried learning songs on the piano. I know, wild. I took piano lessons years ago but didn’t continue with it. I hadn’t touched the piano in years. But I did it for fun and mostly to keep busy with healthy hobbies.
These things helped. When I was into them, I didn’t even think about social. For the most part, I kept myself busy. Only so often did my mind wander. And when it did, it was hard.
It was hard knowing that most people I knew were on social, interacting and seeing things that I wouldn’t for a while. It was hard knowing there were posts that I couldn’t like or comment on. This part especially hit me hard. It made me feel like I wasn’t supportive of the people around me. That I was a bad friend.
I genuinely love social media for the ability to connect with others regardless of distance. I love keeping up with people’s lives. Seeing what they are working on. It inspires me and fills me with pride. People are so beautiful and talented, and being able to show some sort of support is important to me. Especially with graduating last spring, it is a great tool for keeping in contact with those that I haven’t seen in a while.
A part of me feels lost without it. Connection with people is important for me, especially as an extrovert. And social media allows for that to happen in a way. It gives the feeling of being surrounded by others. That you are involved with each other’s lives.
Another part of me is grateful for this time away. I do find myself enjoying the time away from my phone. It is nice to have more head up more on my commutes and to explore other hobbies.
I am one week out and I decided to continue to two. I wasn’t ready to go back on just yet; I could feel I would seep into old patterns. It has gotten easier but I still feel lost and dependent. So I have decided to go for two.
Something that has helped was telling myself that I am not really missing much. If there is something that is incredibly important, someone will let me know by another means.
I hope this does not come across as me hating on social media or putting those down that use it regularly. That is not my intention. Part of the reason the last week was so hard was that I believe social media is an integral part of my life. It just got to an unhealthy degree.
Also PS. I am sorry if I haven’t been liking or engaging with you on social. I love you and I still support you.
Hello again! This was an article I wrote back in November as I transitioned off of social. It ended up being a 3-month break and I just got back on as part of a course I am taking (I will be writing about that experience soon!).
It is weird to be back. And in many ways, I am scared it will become an unhealthy space for me again.
I enjoy engaging with people and I missed being able to catch up with people’s lives. It makes me feel connected.
But I am constantly reminding myself to not be on the apps for too long. I can feel myself being worried I am missing out on something.
I hope sharing my feelings and my struggle can help others with their relationship with social media. I do believe that even if your relationship isn’t unhealthy, a break can be good. Maybe you discover old hobbies. Maybe you learn a new skill. But regaining life beyond social I think is important.
The break definitely helped and I can feel I am in a healthier place. And for that I am grateful.