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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier chapter.

This past week, I deleted Instagram from my phone (again). Snapchat and TikTok have already been long gone, and there had been only one more app holding my attention span captive.

Being in the middle of the long winter semester, I’ve especially felt my mental health being affected by resorting to social media as a method of anxiety relief. When I feel stressed, bored or I’m procrastinating on schoolwork, the first thing I do is reach for my phone, aware that it won’t help me in the way that I need but also knowing that it’s the easiest fake form of consolation.

Not only do my precious moments slip away while I’m desperately searching for meaning, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram reels (leave me alone, I got rid of TikTok first), the consequential self-criticism about wasting my time feels worse than anything else. This guilt is the main reason why I deleted these apps in the first place.

And it’s far from the first time I’ve deleted all my social media. I tend to go through phases of deleting and re-installing social media apps on my phone as I get irritated by the constant communication and then quickly feel like I’m missing out on everything.

Especially since I entered university, I’ve felt a lot more pressure to stay in touch with new connections online. And while my teenage self is happy that I currently have a large circle of good friends, something I largely lacked in elementary and high school, I also dislike using social media as the main way of keeping up these relationships.

At the end of the day, the frequent use of social media can be very mentally draining for an introvert that values in-person quality time over online interaction. And social media is especially toxic as a group of dopamine-inducing apps all on their own.

As I’m sure we’re all aware, social media is wired for addiction. As humans, we’re already vulnerable to the tricks of evolution. Our instincts for survival, previously dependent on the appropriate release of certain hormones to consistently run from a predator, find the ripest fruit or mate with the fittest partner, are no longer needed in our day-to-day lives in the same way.

Now, social media developers have essentially hijacked our brain’s reward system so that we feel those same dopamine boosts over and over again when we use social media and are constantly looking at new content.

It’s no surprise that most of our population is addicted to their phones: the average person uses social media for an hour and 40 minutes per day. I’ve always been aware of the dark side of social media and as I said before, I’ve often deleted it for months on end because of the guilt and pressure it induces.

While my own issue of being a productive perfectionist needs to be worked on in its own time, adding social media into this already-existing mix of toxic standards only creates even more of a cycle of over-achieving self-criticism. This criticism can be crippling, and it’s not healthy to be so hard on ourselves.

Of course, there are times when we should place certain expectations on ourselves, like taking responsibility for doing the dishes and finishing our homework. But instead of letting my expectations guilt-trip me into a spiral if I don’t immediately measure up to them, I want to let go of the silly little apps that create the extra pressure in the first place.

While there is no saying how long this particular phase of online detox will last for me, this time, my intentions are not just to get rid of social media but also to replace it with better habits. The guilt-free time I have for cooking, reading, sleeping, watching my favourite movies and seeing my friends (in person) is so worth it.

I feel oddly free, being the most consistently peaceful and focused I’ve felt for months…and I want to keep it that way.

Natasha Shantz

Wilfrid Laurier '25

Hi! My name is Natasha and I'm a writer for Her Campus Laurier. Writing had been a home for me since I was in elementary school, typing up fantasy and fairytale novels. I like to write about a broad variety of topics, such as self-improvement, social issues, literature and pop culture. When I'm not writing or studying, you can find me dancing to music in my room, sipping coffee in a cafe, or reading a book.