Digital Detox

I believe that being prohibited from using something in its absence is easier than in its presence, hence I decided not to deactivate any of my social media accounts in order to make this process more challenging.

Before I stopped using the accounts I was neither worried nor frustrated for I have previously done this experiment several times at will; I have to admit, though, that I thought that doing this against my will might lead to different outcomes. However, I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t care, because I did, but not for obvious reasons. I wasn’t worried that I would lose touch with people because I believe that if the people who wanted to communicate with me couldn’t find me on social media, they’d use other means of communication or at least wait till I get back on these accounts again. In fact, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to look up all my interests throughout this whole experiment; such as photography tips on Pinterest, fashion ideas on Tumblr, movie trailers on Youtube and so much more.

Halting the use of Twitter and Facebook were the simplest, for I haven’t actively used my accounts since I started my first semester at LAU. Whatsapp was also pretty easy for I’m not a Whatsapp person to begin with and I already reply 5 hours after every message (I tend to ignore some people too, sometimes.) Pinterest is the social medium I go to whenever I feel the need to get inspired and motivated to do anything artistic (and thankfully I didn’t feel that need during these 3 days so it was also an easy an uneventful experience.) Tumblr, on the other hand, was a challenge. Considering the fact that I am most active on Tumblr, I was worried that not reblogging or posting anything for 3 days would make me lose some followers and wouldn’t keep me up-to-date with all that’s going on there. I did reconsider using Tumblr for I missed checking my home feed and reblogging some posts. At some point during the beginning of the experiment, I automatically clicked on the application (because I was too used to it) but then I closed it immediately. I felt isolated because I also had several online friends on this account and I felt an urge to check up on them. These impulses to open Tumblr again happened during my free time after I got back home from the university; however during the day I didn’t think about it. I found myself playing a game application I have on my phone more than usual since I had nothing else to do during my free time. So basically, “It’s the boredom and lack of stimulation that drives me to do things I really care about.” (Paul Miller, 2013) I also felt like I wanted to take photographs (which I already usually do, but this time at a higher rate) since I wasn’t able to look at photographs on my Tumblr account. When I got bored I asked my friend if he would want to take a walk on the beach, and thankfully, he agreed. During the third and final day of my social media-less experiment (and after my Whatsapp messages started piling up from angry friends and family members who thought I was ignoring them), I decided to call some friends and we agreed to meet up at a café without using our cellphones there. It was a pleasant experience where I got to tell them all about my experiment and we got to communicate in an uninterrupted manner.

a picture I took after going to the cafe
when taking a walk on the beach

After the experiment was over, the only urge I had was to open Tumblr and scroll through the feed which I hadn’t seen for 3 days. I had to keep up with the things that mean most to me; photography, fashion and other tiny things. I was dazed by the amount of posts I had missed, I couldn’t even scroll till the end of my feed. I realized that I had missed the announcement of a new Harry Potter book (and that quite pissed me off) that all my Tumblr friends were going crazy about. I also found 2 messages from my Tumblr friends asking if I was okay or if anything had happened to me. Other than that, I didn’t rush to open my other social media accounts. In fact, I still haven’t used my Twitter account.

This experiment didn’t make me completely “disconnected”, since I was able to catch up with my friends and family (it also helped me find out who actually cares about me and noticed my absence). However, I did feel disconnected from my virtual friends, especially on Tumblr. I felt that I missed out on a lot of things and news on there and coming back to it made me feel like a misfit for I wasn’t able to catch up with what they currently know. I wouldn’t say that this experiment was authentic because none of my “real life” habits changed; I went out, took photographs and relaxed the way I usually do, only without checking the social media. “Unplugging” from the Internet isn’t about restoring the self so much as it about stifling the desire for autonomy that technology can inspire.” (Nathan Jurgenson , 2013) As a person, I’m not extremely attached to my social media accounts or to social media in general; hence pausing their use didn’t make me feel like something was taken away from me. However, I do believe that the way I use social media adds creativity, inspiration and encouragement to my life. The only reason I was affected by stopping the usage of Tumblr was because I consider it my muse, but other than that, social media is my go-to when I’m bored. Social media usages vary from one person to the other, but I believe that the people who are unable to last without social media need to explore whatever makes them happy in real life and channel their desires into non-virtual things. “Disconnect. Take breaks. Unplug all you want. You’ll have different experiences and enjoy them, but you won’t be any more healthy or real.” (Nathan Jurgenson, 2013)