I WENT SOCIAL MEDIA FREE FOR ALMOST A MONTH
Ok guys, I’m warning you beforehand. This is a long one. Prepare yourself. I went off social media for almost a month and this is what I have to say about it.
As a blogger/microinfluencer/person in today’s tech-obsessed society, it’s not hard to feel overwhelmed by social media. In the blogger/influencer community, it’s essential to constantly post content to attract new followers and keep your current ones interested—I’m talking one post on your timeline a day plus 5-6 posts on your stories a day (at MINIMUM) and at least a blog post a week. And in the everyday world, the average person spends over 4 hours on their phone PER DAY, with about half of that time spent on social media (on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube collectively). That means people are literally spending a full day on their phone, PER WEEK. Isn’t that crazy?
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with smartphones and social media. I love how it can bring people together who are far away from each other and how people can connect with others who they have never met before but have the same interests. But I hate how addictive it is, how its purpose is literally to draw you in and make you share your lives with others to seek approval, how judgmental people become because of it. I literally could go on and on.
I actually monitored how much time I was on my phone before I decided to do this social media cleanse. And I was hitting on average about 2-3 hours per day, mostly because of blogger duties. And on weekends my time was usually higher because no work = play time. I didn’t really like how much time I was spending on my phone or that I was relying on it to just “pass time.”
I really contemplated buying myself a cheap “burner phone” to use instead of my smartphone, so that I could go back to the basics and use my phone for what it was originally intended to do. But because of the nature of my job (need Whatsapp for communication and the ability to take semi-high quality photos for marketing purposes) and the fact that I get lost going pretty much anywhere, I decided against that and just to delete all social media off my phone instead.
I have to say, being off social media wasn’t that hard for me. But that might be because I couldn’t be off it completely. For my job I have to write copy for social media, review posts that we are tagged in, do influencer research, research other brands’ social marketing efforts, etc. But that’s only a small portion of my job. I would say that only required me to be on social media for a maximum of 30 minutes a day. Besides that, I only posted a few pictures from my California trip at the beginning of the month and a singular post for my birthday (25 BABYYYYYY).
What I loved most about being off social media was feeling free. On the weekends I would go out and do whatever I wanted, and I could just leave my phone in my purse. I’d only check it every hour or two to see if anyone messaged me, and then keep living my life. If I went to a restaurant or bar or did something fun with friends, I didn’t feel the need to document it. I just lived it. I enjoyed it. Sorry (but not sorry at all) that you didn’t get to see that.
There were two parts that I did find really hard though. The first is that I felt like I didn’t know what was going on in my friends’ lives. A lot of my closest friends live out in the suburbs, while I live in the city (ok Queens but basically the same thing) and I only get to actually see them about once a month. By being off social media, I really only got to talk to them when I saw them and only know what’s going on in their life by what they told me. They couldn’t bring up a party and I would say “oh yea I saw that on your stories, it looked like fun.” If I wanted to hear about a party they had to tell me the details. But the more I think about it, that might not be a bad thing. It’s hard to feel excluded, but I also don’t need to know everything that goes on in my friends’ lives. I don’t want to be thinking about what they’re doing instead of going out and doing something myself.
The second part that was hard was actually sitting down and watching TV. I know this sounds weird, but this is something I’ve brought up before. With quite a few friends, I’ve noticed that they’re sitting watching TV, but scrolling through their phones the whole time. I’m guilty of this too, but I really try not to do it too often. But this past month I noticed it was actually really hard! I really would want to look at something else through the slow parts of a show, or even just have something in my hands a.k.a my phone (but I also have this weird thing where my hands always have to be doing something, so could be just that). But I do think that by not being on social media, I definitely picked up on some stuff I would have missed out on before. So, win. I’ll just have to get used to it.
Overall, I loved my time off social media. I don’t think it’s something I can really do long term, especially now that I’m getting back into my blog and I have a big project I’m working on that will benefit from social. But I’m definitely going to try and limit how much time I spend on it, especially on the weekends. So just know you might see less of me on social than before, but just know I’m enjoying my life and I’m only sharing with you the parts that I want.
TIPS FOR CUTTING YOUR SCREEN TIME:
1. Limit your options. I spend a lot more of my time on certain social apps than others. So for the ones I don’t spend much time on (sorry, Snapchat), deleting them wasn’t hard. It also made me realize that you don’t need to have every social app on my phone. If you don’t use it, why take up the storage? It also will reduce the amount of temptation you have.
2. Enable iPhone ScreenTime function. If you don’t already have this enabled, I highly recommend it. It allows you to see (and monitor) how much time you’re on your phone and what apps you’re spending time on. You can set up downtime, app limits, and restrictions. You don’t really have to use any of that (I don’t), I just like this feature so I’m aware of how much time I’m spending on my phone. Honestly, awareness is key. And if you want to reduce the amount of time you’re on your phone, you need to know how much time you spend on it.
3. Instead of checking your phone while you’re out, breathe and enjoy life. Whenever I’m on the subway, all I see are the tops of people’s heads and the glow of screens. Almost everyone is bent over their phone, texting someone, watching a show they saved on their phone, or scrolling through social media. I absolutely hate this. I almost always refuse to use my phone on the subway (unless it’s for directions or I didn’t bring a book and I play solitaire). People talk about wanting to be present, and then stick their nose in their phone. I get that the point of turning to your phone on your commute is so you can shut out the world a little bit, but you never know who or what you’re missing out on during that time. This also applies if you’re waiting in line somewhere, waiting for food at a restaurant, driving with someone in the car, etc. Life is happening around you, the world has infinite possibilities, and you’re staring at your phone.
If you ever think about taking a social media break, do it. Just do it. Start small, see if you can just go a day, then try a week, then try however long you want to. We all need a break every once in a while, especially with social media. We look at and admire other peoples’ lives and forget to live our own. Stop that. Go live your life. And don’t look back.