Four Things I Learned When I Unplugged From Social Media For a Week
It goes entirely without saying that social media is very in the forefront. Even if you didn’t intentionally plan to get sucked into the social-verse, you’re here. Whether you were told to join Facebook years ago and can’t let it go, or joined Instagram and Twitter because it’s what everyone else was doing, you’re here. Your presence is noted, and it’s hard to not be on it. It’s where your friends post their funny cat photos, or updates on their life. Sometimes we just reach for it because we’re bored. It almost seems like it’s impossible to live without it. We always talk about wanting to take a break from it, to unplug, but when your phone is right there, it’s hard to turn away.
I went away on a vacation a couple of weeks ago and had no choice but to disconnect as wifi was at an additional cost, and being in a different country would have been costly for my data use. As someone who is in a profession that requires to be on social media, always be looking at it all day every day, I thought it was going to be challenging, but it wasn’t. In fact it may have been the best disconnect I could ask for. So here are some things I learned in the week I was away from social media.
It’s not the end of the world
It may really seem like it, but it’s not. I can really say with confidence that you will be just fine if you’re not checking Instagram every few minutes. It’s okay to not be posting on Facebook about where you are and what’s happening and what you had for dinner. It’s okay to leave the opinions off Twitter for a bit. The world will keep on turning if you don’t turn to your phone.
Your brain will thank you
If you’re anything like me, you get stressed by some of the things that come up on social media. Working in the news I’ve seen my fair share of negative comments and trolls. Seriously, hit me with some of the most ridiculous comments you see on a political thread and I can shrug at it because I’ve read the same thing a hundred times already. Taking a break from social media left my brain so relaxed. I could actually breathe a bit and not get so worked up and overwhelmed by what I saw. Instagram is my favourite app, but it might be the worst one as it’s where everyone showcases the best part of their lives. I’ve gone down a comparison rabbit hole too many times to count. So to get away from that nonsense and be reminded that there are better things to put my time and energy towards, it' was refreshing.
See what’s around you and enjoy the moment
More often than not I saw a lot of people on their phones while I was on vacation. Understandable. Some people need to connect with their family, or have important emails they need to attend to. But it’s hard for me to understand why two people, who are together as a couple at dinner at a beautiful outdoor restaurant on a resort in the tropics would want to be on their phone the whole time at dinner. And I mean, the whole time. Like full on eating and scrolling. Call me old-fashioned, but what happened to connecting with people over dinner? Food has always been seen as a way to connect and bring people together, we don’t really need our phones for that, do we? I became really aware that we spend a lot of time on our phones when we’re out to eat at restaurants instead of talking with friends and family. I saw others on their phone while at the beach or scrolling while in the pool. My social detox reminded me to look up and see what’s around me, and embrace the moment.
It’ll be there when you get back
Despite a wonky algorithm, all the posts on social media were there when I got back. Did it take a bit before I felt caught up? Sure, but nothing was gone ultimately. Just because you’re not the first person to like a photo, or to share news as it happens, doesn’t mean it won’t be there when you get back. If you’re as concerned, ask a friend to get you caught up on what happened, or just leave it as it is and consider it a week where you missed out on some things. It is what it is, and you’ll be fine.
If you can, I’d really encourage you to take a break from social media now and then. You don’t need to announce it to the world, just do it when you feel ready to. Either take a break for a day, or if you’re feeling ambitious, a week, or two. Keep the phone numbers, birthdays and emails for those who you want to stay in contact with. Take the extra time to do what you really like and are passionate about, or projects you’ve always wanted to start. Maybe take up a new hobby to fill that extra time. Focus on developing connections with others that don’t require a follow button.