Five things I learnt by going a week without social media
It was tough letting go of my favourite social media apps, but it was worth it.
Nobody wants to admit an addiction. After all, delusion is a common symptom.
My battery died before I knocked off from work last Thursday, and I didn’t bring a charger. Having to endure the commute home without scrolling through my social media feeds felt like withdrawal from an addictive substance.
The ride home was uncomfortably long and dreary. It could have been a breezy 13 stops spent scrolling my social media feeds or watching an episode of Netflix. Some music would have helped, at least!
It soon hit me that I was highly reliant on social media as a time-filler, so I decided to challenge myself and see what happens when I go without Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for a week.
Here are five things I learnt from my week without all my favourite social media platforms.
1. The ‘fear of missing out’ is real
At this time of the year, many of my friends are away on their overseas exchange programmes, posting their journeys across Europe and the Americas on Instagram Stories.
While I would be pursuing my own Europe trip later this year, my envy of others already posting from overseas was strong. And as I planned my itinerary, I realised much of my wish list was based off everyone else’s Instagram feed.
Without social media this week, I started to make my own decisions about where I wanted to go without anything clouding my judgement. It felt good to know my trip will be my own, rather than me trying to go to places my friends went out of a fear of missing out.
2. Internet trolls are really good at what they do
I have a habit of reading the comments section on viral posts even though I get so unnecessarily angry at outrageous responses I disagree with…especially if they’re coming from multiple netizens – ugh, is this really how people think?!
But I realised this is detrimental to myself. Why should I ruin my mood with comments that aren’t even directed towards my family, friends or myself?
During my detox, I relied on newspapers to keep myself updated with the most important news. In fact, I felt smarter being able to formulate my own opinions without being swayed by other netizens or feeling frustrated over silly comments.
3. Instagram is a breeding ground for insecurities
Although I am happy with my appearance and where I am in life, I hate to admit that I do fall prey to comparing myself to others on Instagram.
There was a stark difference when I looked at myself in the mirror that week. I was less harsh with myself about the way my makeup looked, and was generally happier with my reflection. I realised how much I subconsciously put myself down whenever I scrolled past beautiful women on Instagram.
My self-confidence did not necessarily improve over the course of a week, but at least I was not nit-picking at any physical flaws I may have.
4. Socialising is better without social media
Whenever I was out with my friends or family, I resisted the urge to whip out my phone to fill empty time and awkward silences. Silences are only awkward if we make it out to be!
Of course, social media content can be a great conversation starter, but not having the access pushed me to initiate conversations that felt more intimate. I found myself listening more intently about events that were happening in their personal lives.
You can also do so much when you’re not glued to your phone. On my daily commute to and from work on the notoriously slow North-South line, I finished reading two books that had been collecting dust on my bookshelf.
When I couldn’t use the classic ‘no time’ excuse, I managed to cross those books off my bucket list!
5. Screen time really takes a toll on healthy sleeping hours
My phone is usually under my pillow, so whenever I get restless at night, I would instinctively scroll through my social media feed until I get sleepy.
Forcing myself to sleep without this ritual was tough initially, but it turns out that scrolling through our phones before bed actually keeps us even more awake and alert! I found myself waking up fresher than ever without feeling groggy, which definitely improved my mood and productivity.
My week without social media was refreshing, but honestly, I’m relieved to be back. Going cold turkey may be impossible (for me), but I would definitely do this again for short durations, just to take a break from the chaos that is the Internet.