Saying "I Quit" to Social Media

At the beginning of January, my mind was full of ideas for self-improvement in the new year: healthier eating, fixing my bad posture, drink more water, read more books— the list goes on. Then one night at roughly 2 a.m., I found myself deep in conversation with a good friend about how inauthentic we felt our projected personalities on Instagram were. We felt that we were too caught up in seeming like our lives were perfect and great, even when they most definitely were and are not. That night, in a fight of impulsivity, I deleted not only my Instagram but my Twitter, as well.

 

Those who know me know that this is a big deal for me. My Twitter especially acted as a source of validation— I used my account to tweet memes, attempt humorous, self-deprecating humor, and keep up with celebrities, news, and friends from home. I was almost constantly on Twitter. And on both Instagram and Twitter, I was increasingly hungry for likes. If something I posted on Instagram didn’t get at least 200 likes, I would question the content and try to evaluate if it was “good enough” to be seen by others. On Twitter, I would continuously tweet dumb jokes and feel a rush of validation with every notification I received that someone had liked my tweet. In that impulsive 2 a.m. decision to delete my accounts, I decided that a social media cleanse would be beneficial. It would help me to clear my head, become more productive, and allow me the time to think about myself and how I would like to be seen by others.

 

It’s been a little under a month since I deleted my Twitter and Instagram, and it’s honestly been so refreshing. Though within the first week or so I did use a web browser to check up on some friends’ Twitter accounts, I soon lost the urge to be constantly scrolling through something. Soon enough, I no longer swiped by sheer force of habit and muscle memory to the pages on my phone’s home screen where the apps used to be. I began to feel much more mindful and focused on whatever tasks I set out to complete each day, because I now didn’t have as many distractions so easily accessible to me as scrolling through Twitter or Instagram.

 

Overall, I think this break from social media has been a pretty positive experience. It’s allowed me to focus more on schoolwork, go to sleep earlier, and have more conversations with friends back home, all because I’m no longer infinitely scrolling. However, there were a few cons to this whole experiment of mine. Mostly, I did at times feel disconnected from a few people back home, just because I didn’t get to hear about their achievements through social media posts and instead had to hear from other friends who had seen the posts. I also felt a little out of the loop when it came to staying updated on pop culture, particularly with music. I missed a few releases of songs because I wasn’t able to see the tweets announcing that a new single would be dropped. However, on that same note, I did develop the habit of reading the news or listening to it on NPR. Now that I don't see tweets about current events, I needed some way to stay up to date.

 

Even though I’ve enjoyed this month off the grid, I probably will re-download social media at some point soon. I don’t think social media is something bad or damaging to society. It allows us to connect with others in new ways, and, frankly, it’s fun to be able to share memes with your friends whenever you feel like it. However, I probably won’t re-download my social media as soon as I had originally planned. When I started this experiment, I intended to only go for about a month until reviving my Twitter. Now, however, I think I’d like to wait a few weeks more, or maybe even a month. I just don’t feel the necessity of social media like I used to, and I think I like it better this way. I highly recommend doing a similar experiment of your own, even if it’s just going without social media for a week. There are options to temporarily disable Twitter and Instagram accounts so that in 30 days you can revive your account in the same state as it was before you disabled it. This provides a way less permanent option to anyone who wants to try this out. I think a lot of us have been on social media for about six or seven years now with no breaks, and to go just one month without it is such an eye-opening experience. It’s not too late to add another resolution to your list of ones from new year! Take a few days or weeks to allow yourself to breathe without the constant hum of social media waiting for you in the background. It might be difficult or annoying at first, but I promise you won’t regret it!