Back in August, I made a decision: social media and I needed a break. I didn't know for how long or what would come of it, I just knew that something needed to change about my relationship with the social apps on my phone… and quick.
My time away from social media had me asking myself an important question: Why did I need to take time away from these seemingly harmless apps in the first place? When did Instagraming and tweeting stop being about the joy of sharing moments to becoming a job I no longer wanted to show up to everyday?
As a blogger, a huge part of my traffic would come from my social media platforms. This meant that every post had to be handcrafted and meticulously rolled out according to algorithms and the gamification that the platform has recently introduced. All of this extra work began to consume my time and energy; I even started to avoid plans if they would cut into my scheduled posting times.
If that wasn't extreme enough, social media began affecting my mood and self-esteem. I would find that I would compare myself to the accomplishments that other bloggers and classmates of mine would share on my timeline.
Enough was enough.
I finally came to the decision that something just wasn't right about the way these apps would leave me feeling once I returned to my home screen, so it was time to say goodbye – at least for a little while.
Taking two months away from social media was like removing processed sugar from my diet; I was thinking clearer, felt less dependent on my phone, and was able to form complete thoughts instead of being influenced by the constant inundation of other people's ideas and opinions.
When you've taken time away from something that was once a huge part of your daily routine, you finally begin to see things for what they really are and here are just a few of them:
We’re Not Addicted to Our PhonesGiphy
Technically, it's not our actual phones that we're addicted to, or else we'd see more people taking phone calls as opposed to have their heads down in a state of blinding distraction. In fact, the opposite is true: it's the apps on the phone that we've grown addicted to. Remember when phones were mere devices used solely for basic communication? It wasn't until phones got the "Smart" added in front of them that things started to change. Apps that allow us to share photos, update statuses, and constantly refresh new trending topics have become the time consumers, not the phone itself. App developers want us to spend more time on their apps, so it feels more difficult to put the phone down. So you're not crazy; it was designed that way.
Real vs. Online FriendsGiphy
The interesting part about taking time away from social media is that you learn the difference between your real friends and associates who just like you for what you post online. After about three weeks into my social media fast, I started to get texts and emails from people who were "just checking in on me," and I can't express how much I appreciated that. It's easy to keep up with people when you see them on IG Stories and Snapchat every day because they're literally right in your face. But once that person removes themselves from being easily accessible, the people that really care show up. I didn't go away from social media to be missed, but it did show me that the people who truly care about your well-being will find a way to let you know, no question.
Have you ever been to a party where everyone is drinking except for you? That's exactly what it's like watching people on their phones while you're disconnected. You see people walking with their heads down, avoiding conversation and bumping into things. When you take a step back and become the spectator to this phenomenon, you're able to see just how distracted and anti-social we've all become. Not judging, but we could all benefit from getting back to our roots of communication. It only takes a few seconds to strike up a conversation with your Uber driver or even the cashier at the grocery store. One of the great things about being human is that we are able to connect and share life with one other, just don't forget that you can do this without your phone.
Reading Is Still FundamentalGiphy
Once I gave up social media, I had time to return to my first love: reading. Not just reading novels, but news articles and my Bible. I was no longer getting my news from the opinions of my Twitter feed or depending on influencers to give me my dosage of inspiration for the day, I had to seek it out for myself. Instead of checking my social feeds before bed, I would crack open a book or magazine and fill my head with something insightful or educational. In the end, I found that finishing a book or article gave me a sense of accomplishment that I missed and allowed me to exercise my brain instead of leaving it on autopilot.
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Featured image by Getty Images