In the name of self-improvement, journalism and the pursuit of living in the moment more often, I, Lauren Madden, have vowed not to use social media for an entire week. That means no Facebook, no Instagram, no Snapchat, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no Reddit, no YouTube – nothing.
Disclaimer: I’m not abandoning anything that exclusively serves the purpose of direct contact, such as email and group messaging apps. My professors, roommates and Her Campus teammates still need to be able to get ahold of me, simply because there are some aspects of technology college students can’t escape.
Social media plays a huge role in the life of almost every American under the age of 25, and at times I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with all the posts I’m obligated to like, all the pictures I’m supposed to post and all the Kardashians I’m expected to keep up with. The number of times I’ve been out on the weekends and the person standing next to me is scrolling through their Instagram feed is enough to make me set some higher standards for myself. Since this summer, I’ve significantly cut back my usage, but I’ve decided that for one week I’m going big and cutting it out cold turkey. With my data usage as my witness, here goes nothing.
Despite fighting my habit of checking Facebook first thing when I woke up in the morning, and resisting the urge to scroll through Instagram while riding the bus, there wasn’t much time to worry about social media today between classes, my Biochem exam, a lab meeting, work and going to the Rec. That doesn’t mean Snapchat wasn’t at the back of my mind all day after I turned off my notifications…
If I had a dollar for every time I fought the urge to send a Snapchat today, let’s just say I’d have a lot of dollars. It’s weird getting used to ignoring the habit of letting my friends know about every almost funny but very insignificant aspect of my day. Just thinking about how many Facebook notifications I probably have makes me anxious.
Instead of updating myself on what all my acquaintances have been up to, I’ve tried to instead update myself on what’s actually going on in the world. Flipboard has become my new best friend, which would explain why my battery was down to 37 percent today. So much for yesterday’s goal. Baby steps, right?
Even though I still have to occasionally resist the urge to send unnecessary Snapchats, the curiosity of what everyone else is up to and the habit of turning to my newsfeed as a way to keep myself busy are both slowly going away. Social media has its benefits (such as creating events and updating your friends and family on important things in your life), but letting go of maintaining an online presence is almost exhilarating.
So, to all of my friends who posted pictures within the past few days that I didn’t like: sorry I’m not sorry.
It was probably for the best that I gave up social media for this weekend, considering I have a Physics lab report due and a Neurobiology exam on Monday. Besides, social media has never been a temptation for me when I’m out on the weekends. Within the last few months I’ve almost never posted to my Snap story, and I make a point to only use my phone to respond to texts when I’m out and about.
Something about not feeling the need to prove to anyone that I have a social life is liberating, and not to mention it allows me to focus on living in the moment. We only have four short years of college life, so I might as well experience it instead of just recording it.
It’s only been six days, but at this point it feels like it’s been weeks. The temptation to scroll through any of my newsfeeds is almost gone, so I wonder if I had gone a month if I could get used to cutting myself off altogether.
I will say that it’s been a slight inconvenience at times for things like sharing events and looking up people’s birthdays. On the other hand, I don’t miss updating myself on what that one girl from work ate for lunch today, or liking the 10,000th picture that one guy posted of the Minneapolis skyline (not that I don’t melt every time I see it walking through campus). Since I haven’t been constantly checking my phone, it’s been easier to focus on myself and spending more time studying and talking with friends.
Well, I did it. The idea that I haven’t checked my Facebook notifications in a week doesn’t even phase me now. I wouldn’t say I’m a new person, but I definitely would recommend a social media cleanse to anyone who’s ever considered it. I’m really digging this new thing where I don’t care about all the posts I didn’t see or all the pictures I didn’t like. As a female college student in the 21st century, I have plenty of things to worry about, and social media shouldn’t be one of them.