Everything I’ve Learned From My 10 Month (And Counting) Social Media Cleanse

Last January, when I was on vacation with my family, I made the decision to not spend my entire week obsessing over getting the perfect beach picture. I was not going to take hundreds of pictures just for the one perfect one I could post to prove I was having the best week of my life.

It always annoyed me when other people would post a picture every day while they were on vacation, even though I often found myself doing the same. But this trip, I was determined not to succumb to the enticing power of Instagram aesthetics. I was just going to enjoy my much-needed vacation.

I deleted Instagram for the week and was shocked how I felt after. This feeling led me to say an easy farewell to Snapchat and Twitter. I kept Facebook for two reasons– on the one hand, I use Facebook groups to contact members of on-campus clubs that I am involved in, and on the other hand hand, my Facebook let my grandma know that I had not fallen off the face of the earth. 

After just one week, I was so surprised by the sense of relief I felt. My screen time was cut into a fifth of what it used to be and more importantly, I was happier overall. I was less concerned about what other people thought of me. I was no longer judging myself based on the number of likes and comments I received. I did not even realize how much I was comparing myself to others until I had the space to see it. Every time I scrolled through Instagram, I was subconsciously comparing my body, my life and my "coolness" to everyone else. I just felt this weight lifted off of me. I was no longer a prisoner to social media and to other people's opinions. 

I was also able to just enjoy each moment more. Instead of spending my time taking photos, editing them and then thinking of the perfect funny yet chill caption, I was able to just relax and live. It was so refreshing and I was not the only one who appreciated this; my family was so glad to not have to spend their time taking all these pictures for me. 

After 10 months, I will admit there have been some times where I miss Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. I have occasionally felt left out when all my friends are taking pictures and crafting captions for their posts. I do not get to keep up with engrossing celebrity Twitter wars. I am often in the dark on the newest memes– which might be the biggest downside for me. But I feel that the pros of living without social media greatly outweigh these cons.

Something I have been struggling with recently is the fact that social media is not going away anytime soon. As someone who wants to go into the fashion industry- whether it be marketing, PR or a magazine- social media is a really important business tool for these careers. I know I cannot escape social media forever, so maybe instead of completely writing it off, I can learn to work with it. Whether that be setting specific time limits on each app or working to be completely transparent about my life, I am still trying to figure out. 

If and when I do decide to rejoin the social media world, I know I am way more equipped to use it in a healthy and constructive way. I know myself better after this experience, and that, above all else, is the most important takeaway I have gotten from this cleanse.