09 Nov My First Social Media Detox Experience
I’ve never really given social media detoxing much thought. It’s something I’ve seen lots of people posting about online, ironically, but I never felt particularly bothered about it myself. Going offline for X amount of days just seemed… pointless. Would you not inevitably fall back into old habits once the detox came to an end? Would it not make more sense to just reduce the time spent online overall?
I’m by no means a social media junkie. I pretty much only use Facebook for tagging friends in memes or RSVP-ing to events. Gone are the days of cringey statuses and selfies that rear their unwanted but tolerated reminders in “On This Day” memories. Sure, I tweet about various things I care about. And I’ve been known to post a lot of photos of tea on Instagram. By and large though, my problem with social media and the online world is not the content I share.
It’s the scrolling. It’s that goddamn endless, glassy eyed scrolling.
SCROLLING FOR DAYS
You know what I mean right? That idle flick open of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever your weapon of choice is, and just.. scrolling. Reading nothing in particular, looking for nothing in particular, just passing through small snippets of information or vaguely interesting photos or memes.
Sometimes I’ll be contentedly watching TV or reading a book and I’ll just pause, pick up my phone and open an app with no actual purpose, just some odd comfort found in distraction, in consuming a random stream of information. Suddenly, twenty minutes have passed and I’m two years deep into an Instagram feed of puppy photos. I mean, I like looking at puppy photos. I enjoy how instantly at my avail photos of cute dogs are. What a time to be alive. I just feel that I’m wasting too much time on it all.
It was whenever I started noticing myself half heartedly scrolling through newsfeeds with no real sense of how I started or how long I’d been doing it that I thought I should maybe cut back on my social media use. I didn’t though.
Only the past couple of months when the online world started to be a real trigger for my anxiety did I start to consider that a social media detox might not be such a bad shout. The place I turned to for funny memes, inspiring content and news had morphed into a place where I felt consumed with worry, self doubt and ultimately feeling incredibly demotivated, inadequate and lacking in confidence.
THE OVERWHELMING OCEAN OF CONTENT
So, what changed? What turned the online world into such a bad place for me?
Nothing in particular. I’m not being cyber bullied or anything. Well, you could say I’m bullying myself because I just won’t give myself a break. Honestly, it’s exhausting. I’ve felt as though the past 4 months I have just constantly been stuck in my own head questioning myself and what I am doing in life, if I should have done X instead of Y. It just wouldn’t stop.
And subjecting myself to the online world via my phone at far too many intervals each day, especially before bed, was just making me feel more trapped in my own head and further amplifying my anxious side. I’d started making these lists in my head of all the things I needed to do, from simply buying something to reading a particular book, or investing more time in the blog. I couldn’t keep track of everything I needed to do and it was seriously starting to drag me down.
One Friday night when I was trying to enjoy a quiet evening in it just clicked with me that I needed to take a breather from it all and I decided to turn off all my notifications for all my apps for a week. Of course I found out later that simply turning off the notifications for Facebook was not enough and I’d have to delete the app.
Unsurprisingly, taking a week off from social media did not suddenly make me super zen. It was interesting catching myself getting my phone out for a scroll though. It allowed me to ask myself if going online at that particular moment was necessary. If opening up whatever app I had an itch to check was going to bring any real worth into my day. I struggled to find a time whenever the answer to those questions wasn’t a resounding no.
I didn’t anticipate the level of FOMO I experienced while offline, however. My Facebook newsfeed is comprised of almost 80% recycled memes and click bait, sensationalist headlines. It was that other 20% of actual relevant content – gig/event announcements, updates from people I care about and quality doggo memes that gave me strong waves of FOMO.
Having a break from Instagram did me wonders, though. It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re flicking through photo after photo of the best parts of people’s lives. On good days I find Instagram awesome – lots of reading recommendations from all the book bloggers I follow, inspiring content and bitchin’ flatlays. But on the bad days subjecting yourself to the very best, idealistic representations of people’s lives is just fuel for a downward spiral of demotivation and self questioning.
SOCIAL MEDIA GOING FORWARD
Since my detox experience I haven’t actually re-installed the Facebook app and I’ve kept all notifications for other apps off. It has been nice just checking into the apps as and when I please rather than being interrupted by a notification for someone attending an event near me and …oh better just have a quick scroll now.
Having notifications turned off has made a real difference. I’m not checking into social media as much because I don’t have constant reminders throughout the day that there’s something I should check. I feel more in control and my scrolling tendency has been reduced considerably. Don’t get me wrong I still scroll, but I’m much much better at catching myself out and nipping it in the bud quickly.
I’m enjoying feeling more in tune with the world around me rather than succumbing to that magnetic smartphone pull. Mostly though, it’s been relieving getting out of my own head and getting a bit of perspective.
How is your relationship with social media?