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How To Unplug From A World Centered Around Social Media

“Did you see the funny new TikTok I sent you this morning?” “Can you believe that Kanye actually tweeted that?” “My Snapchat streak with my best friend finally hit 1000 days today!”

If you are in your teen years or early twenties, it is likely that you are no stranger to hearing these types of comments on a daily basis. With all of the recent advances in technology and social media, it has become easier than ever to connect with people all over the world, including celebrities! This phenomenon of virtual interaction has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with essentially all of the United States education system transitioning to Zoom. Compared to prior generations, we are in uncharted territory, with an abundance of information available at the click of a button. However, even with this connectedness, there are times in which it seems we are as distant from each other as ever. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the presence of social media in your life, don’t worry. What you probably need is to simply unplug.

Delete the app from your phone. Yes, I’m serious!

I know, I know. You probably are thinking, “How will I be able to know what is going on without social media?” I don’t blame you. Growing up in the 21st century, we have been accustomed to connect with each other almost solely through social media. I’m not saying you need to delete all of your social media accounts and move to a remote forest in Alaska, but you may need a social media detox. Take a deep breath, open your folder of social media apps and press delete. Remember, social media has only been around for a little over a decade, and people have been able to create fulfilling relationships with each other since the beginning of time! Take pleasure in the mystery of not knowing every detail of someone’s life, and enjoy the authentic experiences you can have face-to-face!

Remember: Social media is a highlight reel.

Comparison is the killer of self-confidence. One of the best things I have been told is that social media is a highlight reel of someone’s life. Consider your own posts on social media: did you post every selfie you took before you finally found the perfect one? You may have captured the perfect beach picture with your family, but did you capture the long hours of bickering during the car ride there? The answer is probably no, so why do you expect differently of others? The point is, we only see what other people want us to see. When we scroll through social media, we scroll through a utopia in which everyone is living their best lives. We don’t see the days where someone doesn’t feel like getting out of bed, or the days when someone got a test back that they completely bombed or the days in which someone had to say goodbye to a person they love. Social media can be fun, but it does not showcase the majority of the raw, authentic emotions that come along with this confusing journey called life.

Check in with family members with a good old-fashioned letter.

Like I said, people have been forming meaningful relationships since the beginning of time, even without the presence of modern-day technology. Most of the older generations, and even many of our parents, did not have the opportunity to communicate with each other via text, leading to a major form of communication being through letters. If you are fortunate enough to have family members you keep in touch with, and especially grandparents, a great way to unplug from technology is to write a good, old-fashioned letter! There is something refreshing about using a physical pencil and paper to communicate your thoughts. I promise your family members will be thrilled to hear from you, especially in the form of a letter! Plus, there is nothing more special than having a handwritten note from a loved one.

Learn to be alone with your thoughts.

Trust me, I am someone who tends to run on autopilot all day, every day. I thrive off of keeping my schedule busy and planning out each hour of the week. However, while this style of living has seemed to become the norm in the United States, it facilitates stress and is not sustainable. Modern-day society strives to eliminate boredom at all costs – so much so that the average person actually has a shorter attention span than that of a goldfish. With the opportunity for 24/7 stimulation for our minds, it can be difficult to not feel like a zombie, mindlessly moving from one task to the next. It is a blessing to be able to be bored! While it might be uncomfortable to be bored at first, learn to sit in the boredom. If you find that you have to do something, try a simple 15-minute meditation. There is power in being able to sit alone with your thoughts, focusing on nothing but your breathing. Plus, with the many health benefits that come along with meditation, your body will thank you in the long run!

Do something spontaneous, like talking to a stranger!

Okay, so maybe don’t talk to any random stranger, because, of course, that isn’t safe. Instead, try sitting by someone new in the dining hall, or give a compliment to that girl who always sits in the back row of the class. Through actions like these, we are able to get to know people organically, instead of social media stalking them before we ever see them face-to-face. I know things like this can be outside of many people’s comfort zones — trust me, they are outside of my comfort zone too! This is even better! A certain level of discomfort is necessary for growth, and spontaneity allows us to gain novel experiences that lead to an enriching and fulfilling life.

In a world of constant stimulation, it is more important than ever that we make efforts to take care of our mental health. These tips only scratch the surface, but there is a world of opportunities to partake in outside of social media. So, take a deep breath, set your phone down and start living life!

Hi everyone! My name is Abby, and I am currently a third year in UMKC's six year B.A./M.D. program. My hobbies include running, exploring coffee shops in the Kansas City area, and playing the piano.
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