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Giving Up Social Media: A Mental Health Cleanse

For one week, I decided to quit social media under a few guidelines. I did not include texting, e-mails or GroupMe because I viewed those as necessary means of communication. Other than that, I pledged not to use snapchat, instagram, tumblr, facebook or twitter. The first two days were the hardest by far. When I received any snapchat or tag on facebook, I found myself feeling extremely anxious. There was such a powerful desire to simply know what it contained and an equally strong need to clear away the notification. Eventually, I had to turn all notifications off for those apps because I became so stressed over simply seeing the notification itself, but knowing I couldn’t look at it. The first time I really noticed something significant, though, was when I was waiting to be seen by the doctors at Student Health. In the waiting room, I observed every student mesmerized by their individual devices; scrolling, watching and typing away. There were many students in the waiting room, but none of them were interacting. It made me consider how much time we spend looking into the lives of others, constantly consuming information.

Once I no longer received buzzing updates and red numbers on my apps, I felt at ease. I was away for the weekend at a leadership conference, and not being able to look at social media for the entire time was such a breath of fresh air. If I had been looking through snapstories and instagrams I would have had severe fomo. But taking the opportunity to get away from campus and be completely immersed in the conference made the experience incredibly enjoyable. In so many ways, ignorance is bliss. Not knowing what I was missing made me take the moment I was in for exactly what it was and live in that moment 100%.

However, I have to be transparent. I maintained the one streak I had by sending one single snapchat everyday. After this experience, that was the one thing I found the most interesting. We give so much meaning to things such as snapchat streaks, the best friend heart on snapchat, how many likes we receive on pictures etc. These things have become, in a way, definitive aspects of relationships and how people interact at this day in age. That being said, I challenge everyone to disconnect even in a small way. Perhaps go a night without making or watching a snapstory or not scrolling through instagram. We are too often consumed with everything occurring on the screen in front of our faces that we forget to be present in the life going on around us. We compare our looks and our experiences with the ones we see all over social media. This week proved to me that the best moments are the ones right in front of us, not on our screens.


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