We can all get overwhelmed with the strong hold that social media has on us during our day-to-day lives. As we scroll mindlessly on Instagram or tap through stories on Snapchat, we become so immersed in one another’s lives. I am guilty of going through the same cycle of switching between various social media apps, all in an effort to distract me from what I really need to focus on — myself.
For the first 10 days of my Spring Semester, I lived without Snapchat and Instagram. Here are five things I learned in the process:
- I felt less anxious.
As someone who has trouble dealing with anxiety, I found that deleting my addicting methods of distraction took some weight off my shoulders. With so many other responsibilities to worry about as a first-year college student, not having social media in my life allowed me to focus on my true priorities. This in turn eased my anxiety about getting work done and still having time for friends and activities.
- I cared less about how other people were living their lives.
I slowly came to realize that I have subconsciously invested myself in what’s happening in other people’s lives. The way they portray themselves on social media affects my perception of them, and my perception of myself. Of course, on Snapchat and Instagram, people strictly post the good moments and the best sides of themselves. Personally, it pressured me into thinking that I had to have my life together starting now, and I became hard on myself when I wasn’t having a productive, glamorous day. When the means of seeing what everyone was up to all the time was cut out of my life, I felt better about what I was doing and the choices I was making.
- I was more in tune with my relationships and their authenticity.
Snapchat keeps me in contact with some people every day through the concept of “streaks”. When I lost all my streaks, I also lost contact with a lot of the people I had them with. I realized that this type of contact was baseless and pointless. The ones who cared found other ways to check in by calling or texting me, which made our conversations instantly more meaningful to me. It showed they cared enough to do more than send a face selfie.
- I had more time to myself.
By deleting these distractions, I was able to work more efficiently on the school work I had to get done. Once that was out of the way, I realized I had the free time that I always wished for. I got back into some of my passions, including journaling every night. I no longer had excuses to not go to the gym every day. I also carved out time to just truly relax and enjoy some Netflix before going to bed. I was less distracted during this time, and it made me more grateful for the little things that bring joy to my days.
- I learned to live in the present.
Without the urge to pick up my phone every two minutes, I was able to focus on what was right in front of me. Whether it was unfinished homework, sitting outside on Centennial Common, or just hanging out with friends, I found myself more present than ever before. I didn’t have the urge to record or document every single moment I was living, and I wasn’t as pressured about what I had to do later that day or in the next coming days. The present is a lot more valuable when it isn’t interrupted by plans for the future or concerns about other people.
After the ten days passed, I felt like I had fallen into a routine of things. When I got my social media back, I instantly felt more connected with more people, but that didn’t mean I necessarily missed it.
From this experiment, I was able to see first-hand how heavily our generation relies on social media platforms to stay connected with one another. However, it’s important to remember not to let it consume our daily lives.
Because as it turns out, taking a break isn’t so bad after all.