My immediate thought was “Ha! I could never do that.” and I continued to scroll. But something in that moment stopped me, I had an epiphany of how crazy it was that I was unable to give up social media for 30 short days. I decided on the spot that I was going to do it. The next day, I not only signed off but deleted all the social media apps off my phone and logged off other devices.
It felt….weird…somehow the world seemed to quiet.
Over the years I have gone through phases of trying to control and limit my social media use. I would move the apps deep into folders (eventually the additional clicks became normal and involuntary) or set up time limit alerts (which I always had excuses of why “it’s ok to go over today because…”). This was my first clean break and it was truly a bizarre few days of detoxing. Feeling fidgety and coming to a realization of how many times per day I pick up my phone because now when I did, I was oddly met with nothing to do. But over time it began to feel normal. I still compulsively picked up my phone and scroll to where the apps used to be but it after a week or two, it didn’t feel as strange they were gone.
A few realizations regarding relationships came quickly.
There are the people you think you know, because they post SO MUCH, and realize you don’t know them at all. Maybe a friend of a friend who you met once but now you know every detail in their life. What their kids eat for breakfast and their favorite wine…those “connections” were lost, but probably for the better and easy to get over. Then there were friends and they fall into two categories. One where you both make the effort to keep in touch and continue the same level of friendship as before – the true friends. The other category is “friends” that without social media are you realize the connection fades. They hardly reach out, slow to answer texts. Those are the tough ones.
When I came to the end of my 30 days detox, I did not want to go back. The toxic nature of social media, the constant comparing myself to others, became so incredibly apparent and I was not ready to enter that world again. I still am not ready today. I am almost two years off social media and I am proud. Some of the “friends” I lost were and still are difficult to get over. I know if I had access to a social media feed, I’d feel connected to this person and would be able to continue the story to myself that we are friends, but if they never reach out to say hello, or are too busy to answer a text or call – those people aren’t worth space my life.
There has also been the recognition that some social media is in fact needed for some things. My son has severe food allergies and many of the food allergy communities connect and share important information, only on Facebook. For this reason, I created a new Facebook profile where I only belong to a few groups that are important from a food allergy or work perspective. I don’t even have my husband as a “friend”, it’s strictly business.
I know after all this time the pull of social media is still so strong. If I were to go back on, limiting myself would be just as difficult as it was before. Movies like “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix showed this is exactly what it was all designed to do – become a true addiction. Two years and I still find myself scrolling to where my Instagram app once was. Two years and I’m still not ready to sign back on. Two years and I know my mental sanity is better for it.
It’s not an easy choice, and not everyone will choose to go down this path of removing yourself completely but I dare you! Go 30 days and just see what happens. See what you can accomplish with that time you get back, or just be present in the world and for once not glued to your phone. I am in no way perfect but I think if we all gave ourselves the chance to live our lives without this addiction, I think we’d all be better moms, wives, friends, sisters and live in a much better world.