Week 7 Process Post
“Could I go offline for a month?”
Yes. You can....and it was awesome.
A month ago, I asked myself, “could I go offline for a month?”. I had just finished reading Craig Mod’s article “How I Got My Attention Back” and I was deeply inspired to reflect upon my own social media habits. I felt as if his article spoke directly to me and my social media addiction and I knew I wanted to change. On October 1st, I called up two of my friends and made a pact with them to go off the social media sites of our choice for a full month. During the course of our break we aimed to observe ourselves and reflect upon our lives before, during, and after, and to report back to each other afterwards. Before starting this one month social media hiatus I was both excited and nervous, but more than anything, very ready to cut my ties with the world of likes, posts, and snaps. This break was a long time coming and this article seemed to fall into my lap at the perfect time, giving me the perfect excuse to press pause on my social media presence.
Now, a month later, the hiatus has come to an end.
You may be wondering how it went.
To sum it up, it was great.
My screen time on my phone went down exponentially, I started getting out of bed faster, I became more productive and focused while doing homework, and last but not least, my mind felt like it had one less thing to worry about. It soon became apparent that I actually didn’t miss using Instagram at all, and it was easier than I thought to stop caring about checking my friends Instagram stories or posting my own content to “stay relevant”. Before the Instagram break, I often felt like I had to always make an Instagram post or upload a story to show people how “great” my life was and uphold an image of being an “artsy” Instagram user. By not using the app, it felt like an invisible weight was lifted off my shoulders and I realized that no one actually cared if I posted a picture or a story, and that my “image” was just an expectation that I created for myself. I recently spoke to one of my friends about our time off Instagram, and we both came to the conclusion that our time away made us realize that we really don’t care that much about what everyone else is doing, or at least what everyone else is posting, and that what truly matters is the people who are closest to us in our lives. As brutal as it might sound, realizing that we could care less about “connecting” with hundreds of followers and friends was a very grounding thought. It highlighted that at the end of the day, the friends and loved ones that I have “offline” are the ones that are a part of my daily life whether or not I am on social media.
I hardly thought about my time off Snapchat during my hiatus, because quite frankly, I did not think twice about deleting Snapchat and have no desire to get it back. I found that once I deleted the app, I became a much better communicator. Rather than being stretched in what felt like a bunch of different directions, trying to answer a multitude of people across different platforms and hold constant conversations, I only had one method of talking to my friends (texting and calling) and I was able to focus my attention and energy on one mode of communication. All of my texts and calls were intentional messages and my quality of texting increased greatly. Beforehand, I was known for forgetting to respond and leaving people on “read” for hours and days on end, whereas now, since I only had one way of talking to my friends, I made a greater effort to answer. By being forced to talk to my friends solely through texting and calling, it made me identify who the core people are in my life. It helped me realize that there are a handful of people who no matter what, I will go out of my way to communicate with regardless of Instagram or Snapchat, and that these are the people in my life that deserve my time and attention.
In all, I found that it was a much needed lifestyle change to delete social media from my life for a month. I found that not only did I not miss it, but I preferred my life without it. I found that I had let apps such as Instagram consume way too much of my conscious and subconscious thought, and that I was deeply absorbed in a world that doesn’t actually matter. By not spending my spare moments scrolling through my phone, I had more time to focus on homework and overall was more productive. I found that I actually had more time in my day than I used to believe and that I was able to complete tasks way faster when I wasn’t thinking about my phone. Going forward, I have decided to delete Snapchat permanently and to keep Instagram, but only have the app downloaded on my iPad rather than my phone. This way, I am able to keep my phone distraction free, and continue building on the momentum I gained this past month of reduced screen time and using my phone solely for communication purposes.
The main takeaways of my social media vacation:
1) Instagram is not that important
2) The friends and people that matter in your life will find ways to reach out and connect with you no matter what. You do not need social media to “stay in touch” with people.
3) I don’t actually care that much about what other people are posting, and it felt really nice to no longer be constantly viewing other peoples “highlight reels”.
4) Without social media, I liked that my phone was actually used as a “phone” and was a communication tool and nothing more.
5) I am much more productive without Instagram or Snapchat on my phone.
Mod, Craig. “How I Got My Attention Back.” Wired, Conde Nast, 22 Dec. 2018, www.wired.com/2017/01/how-i-got-my-attention-back/.