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Mental Health

Why You Should Take A Break From Social Media Before College Begins

It’s your last day of high school. College starts in a couple of months. It’ll be a new chapter of your life, with new friends, new adventures and new lessons. If almost everything will be new, why not take a break from social media before starting a new social life?

Most of today’s generation is born into social media. From sharing our throwback baby photos on Instagram to posting pictures of our high school graduation on Facebook, social media sees all of it. Although social media may seem like the thing to help you get motivated, the pressure to be productive at all times — even at the expense of your own mental and physical health — is what it truly promotes. Feelings of guilt and anxiety are introduced in viewers when they can’t live up to the expectations of certain lifestyles, like the toxic “That Girl” TikTok trend or exclusive “Clean Girl” aesthetic

Another aspect of our lives that gets seriously affected by social media is relationships. Watching endless TikTok videos and Instagram Reels pushes us to believe that either a perfect relationship only exists when you occasionally have date nights or they make us believe that jealousy is normal in a relationship. Setting such high expectations and normalizing jealousy leads to toxic IRL relationships. 

On October 4, when Instagram and Facebook infamously shut down, people not just around me, but everywhere in the world, began to go crazy. We are so addicted to social media that we believe that our lives cannot exist without them. This makes a social media break even more necessary than before. The global shutdown of Instagram and Facebook gave us time to unplug and focus on our day, free from distractions. Although movies like The Social Dilemma warn us about the negative sides of social media, it doesn’t hit us until we lock our phone and start our day without it. Without the Instagram binge, we finally get the chance to look at the world around us and observe things we might generally be oblivious to. 

College, like social media, is a rollercoaster of emotions, opinions, and comparison. As you start college, you will likely meet people with different emotions and opinions — some of which you may like, and some you may not. Spending time away from social media before college begins will help you reconnect with the world and have more time to focus on what’s coming up. Taking a much-needed break will also give you a chance to not just connect with family and friends before you get busy in the ongoing hamster wheel that is college. 

The biggest and most obvious sign of needing a social media detox is when you just mindlessly scroll without enjoying social media. An article from Cleveland Clinic talks about some signs that indicate a social media break is needed, explaining how much time should ideally be spent on social media.

The easiest way to disconnect is to uninstall all of your social media apps (yes, including TikTok) and spend time on self care and the things that really matter to you. Focus on meeting friends in-person rather than messaging them. Plan a trip, try journaling, or start a new hobby. If uninstalling all of your social media apps feels a little too extreme, start by limiting the amount of time spent on social media, or turn off your notifications to avoid the urge to see what everyone else is doing. 

It’s definitely healthy to take a break and spend more time on some wellbeing practices. Break up with social media this summer and begin college in the fall with a newfound sense of self care — you got this, bestie.

Sheen Gurkha

Manipal '21

I write till my heart fills with satisfaction.
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