I Deleted Social Media For a Week and This is What I Learned

Over the past year or so I’ve seen many of the “influencers” I follow advise their followers to take breaks from social media to better their mental health. I always told myself that I didn’t need social media; I could quit whenever I wanted to. At some point in quarantine, with all of the free time to think about my life, I realized that I didn’t actually use social media for productive reasons most of the time. And by productive reasons I mean catching up with friends, checking out some new art or something that interests me, catching up on the news, or even looking for new brands. Most of the time, I was scrolling just to scroll. If I was bored, I’d scroll. If I was sitting eating lunch alone, I’d scroll. Watching TV, I’d scroll. You get the picture. With the world in flames and thrown into absolute chaos, my feed has begun to stress me out. Add that to the fact that the new algorithm on Instagram makes it difficult to see the content you actually want to see and you’ll understand why I wasn’t getting much joy out of social media. 

Last week, I decided to heed the advice I’d heard so many times; I deleted Instagram and Twitter from my phone. Snapchat stayed, mostly as a secondary means of communication and primary means of flirting with people I’d found on Tinder (a girl’s got to have a little bit of socially distanced fun). Instagram and Twitter make up most of my screen time, next to podcasts and music, which are much more enjoyable ways to spend time on my phone. I figured that I would have a busy week at work, so I may as well delete my accounts when I know I won't be yearning for them, just to ease into it. So Monday through Friday I spent my time sans most social media, and it was better (and easier) than I thought it would be. 

I always thought that I could go without social media, but without much in-person socializing I wasn’t as hopeful as I might have been a year ago. That being said, I went into it without any forethought and very impulsively, true to my Sagittarian nature. The first half of my work week without social media was a little strange. I would open my phone absentmindedly and go to click on the Instagram or Twitter app, only to realize that it wasn’t there. I kept wondering what I was missing on Twitter, what news was being broadcast and being joked about on the internet. But I never yearned for it, or really thought about re-downloading it before Saturday. And that was what surprised me. Sure, I was busy and all, but I had some down time at home when I would usually scroll. Instead, I sat and read or watched TV, and I mean single screen only. I only picked up my phone to respond to a text or check notifications, which were few and far between without social media. 

After a few days of having social media back on my phone, I’ve noticed just how much of an effect it has on my mental health. I don’t *usually* have too many confidence or security issues stemming from constantly seeing beautiful people on social media, but there is so much more negativity festering there than I ever realized. Reading about current events on social media is so much more mentally exhausting than reading it in a news story. I appreciate the depth and scope social media can bring with individual accounts and stories, but it’s so hard to read after a while. The time I spent without it made me feel happier, despite the fact that I had one of my longest and hardest work weeks ever. That’s how I know that social media was killing my mood before.  

I don’t want to condemn social media altogether because I do enjoy it and feel very inspired by the content I find. I do, however, agree with the influencers and others who promote taking breaks from the apps. I haven’t felt this mentally relaxed since 2016 (pre-election).I’m two days into my work week and four days into having social media and I’m seriously considering making social media a weekend thing only. If you’ve been contemplating taking a break from social media but couldn’t quite think of a good enough reason, let this be the reason. Make this the one time you’ll take advice from a random person on the internet.