I Broke up with Social Media for 30 Days and This is What I Found

by | Nov 28, 2016 | Self Help, Uncategorized

I Broke up with Social Media for 30 Days and This is What I Found

by | Nov 28, 2016 | Self Help, Uncategorized

During October I put myself through a secret social media challenge.

I had noticed that my social media use was getting out of control. I downloaded an app to get an idea of my usage and was told that I was on social media for about 5 hours each day. One week I spent 40 hours – an entire working week – on my phone. Insane, right?

I decided that something needed to be done, so I deleted Instagram and Facebook from my phone and then blocked Facebook on my computer until 4:30pm each day.

Because I’m a psychological researcher and like conducting research, I wanted to measure whether my actions would actually have a measurable impact, so I took a questionnaire measure of internet addiction. I was in the range of ‘very addicted, with internet use affecting daily functioning’.

I also kept a brief diary each day of how I was feeling. The picture is of some of my notes.

social-media-experiment

At the start, I noticed I was pretty upset:

“Moody, upset”
“Lonely, disconnected”
“Counting down the hours to check again”

I thought lack of social media itself was making me feel bad. Then, as days passed, I got down to the root of how I was feeling:

“Realised I use Facebook to mask loneliness and supply false feelings of connection.”
“Social media is boring.”
Social media makes me feel sad.”
“Got upset that I’m not into make-up and fashion like other girls.”

After about two weeks, I started not to care so much about social media. I realised that I actually didn’t like Instagram and have no plans to go back to using it. I got loads more work done. My moods improved. I messaged people more to catch up – I realised that I prefer catching up in person. I managed to spend 20 minutes each day meditating.

I realised that, like many others, I have a tendency to compare myself in a really negative way. When I do this, I forget all the good qualities I already have.

I got a a bit more stressed toward the end of the month and my social media use increased, but I’m back to no Facebook on my phone.

The overall conclusion I came to from my month of reduced social media use was this: I don’t want to live my life on social media.

One of my fondest memories is of my teen years is when I sat on the porch outside my house while it poured down with rain and I teared up as I read the final chapter of Animal Farm. I used to do this sort of thing a lot. I’d eat breakfast outside, watch clouds form and listen to thunderstorms in the distance, and then I’d lay on the floor of my room listening to Stravinsky, the Mars Volta, or Wayne Shorter.

I don’t do these things anymore. Social media isn’t the sole reason that I don’t but, with the amount of time I spent on it, it certainly wasn’t helping.

I don’t want to live another 10 years where an achievement is marked by the number of ‘likes’ I receive on a post. This change was sorely needed and, honestly, I don’t miss the hold that social media had on me.

Next week I’ll post a follow-up post on the steps I took to re-evaluate my relationship to social media. If you are thinking about doing the same, be sure to give it a read – I hope it helps!

How do you find your social media use? What’s good or bad about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.