Like many of you, I’ve always viewed social media as harmless fun — a way to stay connected with friends and share my favorite memories. And yet, over the last year, I’ve noted the toll it’s taken on my productivity and perception of how life really is and how my life should be. Although the pandemic has increased our screentime on our phones, I’ll speak for many of us in saying that I feel more disconnected from myself and others than ever before.
I recently watched the documentary The Social Dilemma, which left me worried and frightened about the future of social media and its placement in my daily life. It brings awareness to the fact that while technology has vowed to keep us interconnected, it’s led to unintended consequences that are catching up to all of us. They referred to this digital age as a “broken information ecosystem” pushing us further away from each other, but closer to the media platforms that fuel political divisions, promote content that sparks hate, and make us question our self-worth.
It’s given me a lot to think about and I’ve been asking myself lately: Am I really making the most of my free time, or am I hostage to my phone? Why do I feel anxious when I open certain apps? Lastly, how do I stop myself from feeling left out if my socials aren’t checked, and how do I break this cycle of doomscrolling?
If you’ve been asking yourself the same questions, I’d highly recommend taking a social media detox for some time and considering some of the reasons why it’s good for you.
- It gives you time to reconnect with the passions and hobbies you love
Over the last two months or so, I’ve been spending time away from Instagram and TikTok. I deleted the apps off my phone, and the urge to check my feed gradually went away. Many of my friends have asked me: “How could you delete Tiktok, it’s the best app!" And while I agree (their algorithm is unmatched), I’ve been able to dedicate more time to the hobbies I love. I’ve picked up reading for pleasure again, started working out consistently, and began journaling in my mornings and spending more time outside. I’ve been able to focus on myself and channel my energy into personal and creative projects that I never thought were possible.
I’ve also noticed how my personal relationships and friendships have improved, even in a short amount of time. Since I’m no longer solely relying on social media to keep up with loved ones, my messages and interactions with them have become more intentional and meaningful.
Although this has been my experience, the start of any sort of detox or detachment is very personal and should be tailored to your wants and needs. For instance, you don’t need to go cold turkey to experience the benefits, instead, pick 1 or 2 apps you feel you need some space from — I promise you won’t regret it.
- It helps to declutter your mind
Nearly a decade ago, Edward O. Wilson, the father of sociobiology, was asked how humans would be able to solve the crises they’d face in the next 100 years. He stated: “the problem with humanity is that we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology.” Well, technology has changed a lot since then, and our emotional impulses have remained the same. In simpler terms, technology has outmatched our brains, exploiting our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
According to Tristan Harris, our “paleolithic brains” aren’t wired for seeking the truth or information that challenges our beliefs. Social media platforms that continue to feed us what we want have split society into “different ideological universes.” This robs us of a chance to address pressing issues in society and work together in times of need. At the same time, it diminishes our ability to tell facts from fiction.
In essence, our brains are just no match for our technology. Therefore, taking a step back from some media platforms can offer you some clarity, and make the world seem less black and white through your eyes (or screen).
- It improves your productivity so you can make the most out of your days
There’s no doubt that the addiction to social validation and a burst of “likes” or “follows” has somewhat destroyed our attention spans. I mean, I can hardly watch a two-hour movie without checking my phone at least twice throughout it.
With that being said, my mini-detox has helped tremendously with my levels of productivity. I find it much easier to complete simple tasks, and I’m not constantly worrying about how there aren’t enough hours in a day. I also seem to be relying on my planner a lot more, making sure I’m crossing off most items on my homework to-do list. It’s safe to say that I’ve gotten a bit better at adulting, and I think we all want a part in that.
So, consider going one full week without social media to test your limits and push your boundaries, and see how much you’re able to accomplish.
- It gives you the chance to trust the timing of your life and decide what’s best for you
“Move with intention, not speed." A quote that seems to hold much more weight these days. I feel that many of us get caught in the fear of missing out on the best opportunities, internships, jobs, vacations or even simple moments with friends. And yet, the truth is that social media is not an accurate reflection of everyone’s lives or accomplishments, nor is it a metric of someone’s identity.
It’s important to remember that we all have separate paths and we'll all end up where we’re meant to be; comparing yourself to others is a disruption of your peace of mind and time. I know we’re all striving to be authentic and genuine, and that starts with being believing in yourself and the decisions you make.
Oftentimes, we may measure value by quantity, instead of quality. I believe social media fuels this mindset and it influences who we choose to surround ourselves with and many of our personal relationships. I can confirm that the quality (or lack thereof) of those you place in your life deeply affects how you view yourself. Make sure to prioritize those who wholeheartedly support and love you, and, while you’re at it, remind yourself that growth is never static.
I hope I’ve done a good job at convincing you that a social media detox will work in your favor, and that some time away from your phone will give you the chance to rebuild yourself in small or even large ways. Who knows, maybe your detox will turn into a year-long sabbatical. After all, “the only way to make peace with technology is to make peace with ourselves,” says Tristan Harris.