I Did A Social Media Cleanse And Here’s What Happened

Observation: Kayleen spends too much time on social media. She seems to be addicted, in fact.

Question: If Kayleen stays off of her social media for a week, will it curb the addiction?

Hypothesis: If Kayleen stays off of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, VSCO, Youtube, and Snapchat for one week, she will feel less of a need to spend her hours in those spaces by the end of the week.

Data and Conclusion: Keep reading to find out!

Day One

Utter betrayal. Why did I choose to do this?

Today was my best friend’s birthday, and I couldn’t make a birthday post for him on my Instastory. It doesn’t sound that tragic when I put it down on paper, but let me tell you, it sure felt tragic. How could I convey to the world that this wonderful human deserves recognition on his birthday if I couldn’t use social media to do so? After lamenting for a reasonable amount of time, I finally realized that the only thing I needed to do for my friend’s birthday was to let him know how much I love and appreciate him. Stepping away from social media seems to be giving me some much-needed perspective, no matter how painful it is.

Today I kept opening apps and closing them right away, realizing what I had done. Per the advice of a genius roommate, I moved all of my social media apps into a folder labeled “DO NOT TOUCH.” At least all of my notifications are coming from that one folder, instead of blinking at me from all corners of my homepage and reminding me that sometimes we can’t take back the choices we make.

Day Two

A notification came through my phone today. “Cole M. Sprouse tweeted for the first time in a while.” I’m not sure how I can accurately describe how I felt, seeing that information and yet being so far from it. How dare I cause myself to miss Cole’s tweet? I’m definitely still grieving today.

63 notifications. SIXTY-THREE. I have turned off my notifications to avoid panicking from missing out, as well as from the realization that if notification banners are coming through my phone and I see things like how the superior Sprouse twin just tweeted, it’s not really a social media cleanse.

Day Three

One of the reasons I felt compelled to take this step away from social media is my bedtime routine. As soon as my lights are out and I get in bed and force my cat to snuggle in, I turn to my phone. Methodically, I will rotate through my different social media apps, checking notifications and messages and then scrolling through content.

Well, I can obviously no longer do that. Sleep has been rough, and today, because I couldn’t fall asleep, I looked at silicon ice cube molds on Amazon for three hours. I’m not exaggerating. When I was done with the ice cube trays, I moved on to Riverdale merchandise and then temporary tattoos. I miss my social media, but honestly, I think this might be the reason I miss it the most. Three days have been hard to go through. On the bright side, while my social media has left me (okay, I left it), my cat has not.

Day Four

Matt Bellassai walked into the restaurant I was in tonight. And I couldn’t tweet about it.

Full disclosure: Matt Bellassai did not walk into Stray Dog, but someone looking like his identical twin did, and do you know what I was left with? An itch, impossible to scratch. I needed to tweet this discovery; I needed to get in touch with Matt’s mother and ask her about her forgotten son. Or perhaps just get in touch with Matt himself and tell him in soft, compassionate tones that he has a long lost brother and that I’ve found him, so the sweet reunion can now happen. Instead, I had to sit back while my roommate took care of it.

Maybe learning how to experience life’s oddities without letting everyone on the internet know is something I’m supposed to be getting out of this. I will begrudgingly accept that.

Day Five

Today is the first day I haven’t felt a twitch every time I looked at my “DO NOT TOUCH” folder. Some sense has been knocked into me, and if you find out who did it, please let me know; I’d like to thank them. Maybe it’s the knowledge that I only have two days left after today, maybe it’s the mound of homework my concentration has been focused on, maybe it’s Maybelline.

All I know is that after just five days of my social media hiatus, I finally don’t feel enslaved by my apps. My visits to Amazon are fewer and farther between, and I have successfully stopped refreshing the weather app out of boredom.

Day Six

I made it through the weekend, which I anticipated being the most difficult part of the experiment. Not only did I make it through, I feel okay. I’ve figured out a way to spend my social media time on other things, like actually catching up on assignments and interacting with the physical people in the physical space around me.

I know that I’ve missed out on some funny memes and conversations between my different friend groups. One friend even told me, “I can’t wait until you’re back on Twitter. I feel like I’ve sent you so many funny things this week.” She always sends great things, so I know I’ll enjoy them — but it feels good to know that other people feel more of an urgency than I do for me to rejoin the online community. It tells me that this little cleanse has worked some sense into me, no matter how small. Don’t be deceived… I do want to go on and check all of my notifications. I just don’t feel an itching need to anymore.

Day Seven

Relief. Relief that I made it a whole week without social media.

Today I don’t feel the need to be on my different social platforms, but I am eager to check the messages my friends have sent me. I swear it’s just interest though, not need — I think I’d be okay doing the cleanse for longer if I had to. But, I think for now, this was the exact dose I needed for a while. I thought about cheating, more than once. I had to figure out a new bedtime routine. I experienced odd and hysterical moments that I wanted to document, but couldn’t.

What I’ve learned from these experiences is this: I need to be better at being present in the moment. Not everything requires a digital comment; not everything needs to be shared with the world. I need to engage in the intimate goings on of life that are missed when my thumbs act as my brain, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. Social media has a time and place, but I want to learn the times and places to leave it behind. I recommend this challenge to each and every one of you — even if you can’t do a week, try five days! Or, if you’re feeling more ambitious, try two weeks instead of one. The lessons to be learned are out there; all you need to do is try.

And, let’s be real… less scrolling means less chance of arthritis.