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Mental Health

My Experience Deleting Social Media for a Week

Hi everyone! This is going to be a timeline of my experience with deleting social media. I thought about this partially because I needed a topic to write about (haha) and because it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I feel that I am too connected to my phone and I would like to spend less time on social media. Additionally, one of my friends deleted social media a few months ago and doesn’t miss it at all, which inspired me to try it for myself. 

Pre-deleting social media.

I’m about to delete all of my social media apps off my phone and I can’t decide how I am feeling yet. I’m pretty nervous about being able to keep up with this, as I spend a lot of time on Twitter and TikTok. I’m going to keep Snapchat just because I have some group chats for classwork, though I will not use it to view or upload stories. While I am nervous, I am feeling pretty excited about being less attached to my phone and using social media more consciously in the future. 

My current average screen time for just my phone is 4.5 hours a day, but there were some days in the past week where it was up to nine hours a day, with most of that time on social media like TikTok. I noticed as I was looking for it to find the screen time that I was feeling nervous when I didn’t know where it was immediately. I’m thinking that for this challenge, I’m going to delete all the social media apps and only use them to promote my articles that come out in this period of time, just using stories to get people to read them, and then delete the app once again. For these promotions, I will use Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Day one.

This first day I saw that I was mindlessly tapping the spot where my social media apps used to be on my phone. I’d be a bit bored and before thinking about it, the game that had replaced the spot it was in was open on my phone. This was really weird to think about because I realized how trapping that is. If I’m bored and just open a social media app without thinking about it too much, I’m going to end up scrolling on it for at least a few minutes. I think this is where a lot of my disconnect is with how long I feel like I spend on social media, versus how much time I actually spend.

Day two.

Today was in between. I noticed that I wasn’t hitting the spots where my apps used to be quite as much, but I kept opening my phone just to realize there was no social media there and turn it back off. I only had one class today, which I think made it more difficult for me because I had so much free time. I did end up baking after my class was over, which is something I don’t usually do just for fun. I also hung out with my boyfriend’s roommates, and I wasn’t on my phone as much as usual while I was there, which was nice to realize.

Day three.

Day three wasn’t really anything special. I had four classes in a row today which made it really easy to not think about social media or my phone. I did notice that I was getting antsy between classes — usually, I’d be on social media and not keep track of the time so much. Since I was just waiting for my next class to start, I would play phone games, but I kept checking the time to make sure I wasn’t missing my next class. Most of the day wasn’t too bad and I kept busy with my homework, but in the evening I fell into a deep rabbit hole on YouTube. I don’t really consider YouTube social media, since I don’t know any of the people I’m watching personally, it’s more like TV. I ended up being on YouTube for about three hours, which made up for the time I would’ve usually been on social media.

I don’t know how I feel about this, as it feels like kind of cheating since I was still getting a lot of content and ads pushed towards me, like most social media. Additionally, I was upset with myself because I imagined before this that my time might be better spent doing “real life” things like journaling, yoga and calling friends and family. Thinking about this didn’t help my rabbit hole, as I just felt bad about myself and continued to watch videos. Looking back at this the next day, I want to give myself some slack because it’s unrealistic to expect that my habits would change drastically in a few days. 

Day four.

Day four I noticed a good bit of difference. I wasn’t tapping the spots where my social media used to be, though I would open my phone pretty often, just to close it again when I remembered TikTok and Twitter weren’t there. I spent a lot of my day planning for a hike for the next day, getting my outfit and shoes together, packing snacks and planning where we wanted to go. This really helped with my feeling that I wasn’t doing anything “real” with my time while not on social media. I was excited to go on the hike and kept thinking about that throughout the day.

I was using my laptop for most of the day, and I did log onto Instagram to scour hike locations, but I didn’t scroll on my feed or check notifications, and I didn’t really want to. I think that I expected to miss social media more, but I didn’t feel the need I usually do to stay up to date on so many people’s lives. 

Day five.

It’s hike day! I hardly used my phone today and didn’t even think about it. The only time it was used was to take photos or check the time. We spent a total of three hours driving to and from the hike, and five hours hiking, so this was the majority of my day. During the other parts of the day, I was making breakfast and getting ready to leave or relaxing after hiking for so long. This has been the best day so far in terms of a lack of thinking about social media.

Not only was there not really any time to, but I was thinking about the hike I was on, the people I was with and the views in front of me (the hike was at the Pawnee Buttes, and I highly recommend it.) At the end of the day, I did some yoga to stretch my muscles after the long hike and I felt really good about the day, regardless of social media and my phone. The only time today that I thought about social media was when I took a really amazing photo on my hike and I wanted to post it on my story. 

Day six.

Today I had to run a few errands and do my laundry, which is the kind of day where I wouldn’t check my phone as much as usual anyway, but I wasn’t on Twitter waiting to check out at the store or waiting for my clothes to be done. I also took a nap since I was tired from the day before. I had a bit of homework to do before the week in front of me, and it was funny to see how I procrastinated without social media. Instead of scrolling for a few hours before beginning my work, I was cleaning my house, taking the trash out and hanging out with my lizard Walter. 

This was interesting to see because I usually assumed that social media was the cause of my procrastination, and it turns out that it was just one way for me to procrastinate. I really liked finding this out because it will allow me to understand my procrastination more in the future. This also makes me feel less connected to social media since this is usually the time I spend the largest chunk of time on it.

Day seven.

Day seven started like any other day. I ate breakfast and watched some TV. Usually, after this, I would be on my phone for a bit before figuring out what I wanted to do for the day. Instead, right after cleaning up from breakfast, I got ready to go to this plant store that my friend told me about. He had told me about it that day, and usually, I wouldn’t get around to going for a few days, but I wasn’t doing anything else. 

On the way to the plant store, I was at the intersection of Baseline and Broadway and I saw so many police cars and SWAT vehicles going towards King Soopers. At the time, I had no idea what was going on and couldn’t find information anywhere. I didn’t know that there was a shooting until my friend texted me about it. This is the one time this week where I wished I had social media. Had I checked Twitter before leaving my house, or at the red light, I might have known what was going on earlier. This is something that I hadn’t thought about as a perk of social media before, but the quick exchange of information would’ve been very helpful to me today. 

End of my week.

Overall this was probably a good thing for me. While my average screen time is still at about four to five hours, most of this time was spent on phone games that I enjoy, as opposed to mindlessly scrolling through all my social media. I don’t feel as disconnected from the world as I thought I would, and I didn’t miss anything major in my friend’s lives. Most nights I went to bed earlier than I would’ve if I would’ve been on TikTok before bed. 

I’m writing this a few days after the last day of my challenge, and I still haven’t re-downloaded my social media apps. I’ve checked a few to see what I missed, and it was mostly friends DMing me funny posts, which I can look at any time. For now, I’m enjoying not thinking about what others are posting and what I should post. I’m thinking about keeping Instagram deleted as it adds the least value to my life. I have always loved Twitter, and I do read about the news on there more than any other app, so I will keep that.

I’m in between on TikTok, because I do learn a lot about different issues, but I also waste a lot of my time. I also end up scrolling for much longer than I’d like to. Oftentimes, I think to myself that I want to get off of TikTok in 10 minutes or so, and then suddenly it’s an hour later.

I do think that this week has given me a healthier relationship with social media, and I could see myself doing this again in the future to ensure it stays that way.

Marita is a junior at CU and marketing major with a creative technology and design minor. She loves fashion, design and cooking. In her free time, she loves to go on walks and hang out with her bearded dragon, Walter!
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