A 10 day social media detox. It isn’t exactly a groundbreaking achievement. Yet, many of us would never consider it. We all deny that we have an obsession with our devices. With sharing our lives online, we only want our audience to see the highlight reel. And, when we do show our vulnerability, is it to seek attention or validation in another form?
Growing an audience and a business online can be enhanced by social media. If you put in the hours, you can reap the benefits. But that can also come with many disadvantages. Increased anxiety, comparison and addictive behaviours. You can source happiness from the positive interactions and allow your mood to suffer when negativity arises. But how do we find the perfect balance? That I am still working out. I have learnt a few lessons over the 10 days that I thought would be worth sharing.
My awareness of my actions increased within the first few days of detoxing. You begin to question whether you are taking a quick snap on your phone to share online or to cherish it for your own eyes. I became more mindful about the photos I took and the purpose behind them. It is all too easy to cultivate a life through the eyes of social media, even without using it. Why do we photograph as often as we do? Why do we feel the need to share a snap of our dinner or a photo of ourselves and a loved one? When we question our actions and become aware of our intentions, we can discover the ‘why’.
The Impulse Remains
After a few days of knowing and accepting that my social media apps were no longer on my phone, I still found myself looking for them. The habit had become so unconscious that my impulse still drew me back to where they were. It was only after a few moments did I notice that they had vanished and my mind and fingers didn’t know where to turn. Instead I sat scrolling through old text messages, flicking through photographs or even browsing my calendar for an answer. Do we really need social media to pass time? Or is it an addiction to our phone as a object? Is it an unconscious safety net?
Adjusting Was Easy
I thought that day one would be difficult. That the incessant desire to check my Instagram or Twitter feed would get the better of me. In fact it posed the opposite effect. I felt free from it. The burden had lifted. No longer did I feel that I needed the validation from sharing a new photograph or seeking feedback for my latest blog post. The pressure was off. You adjust quicker to having no social media apps at your fingertips quicker than you may have first imagine.
What’s more, I haven’t missed social media once. In fact, I am quite reluctant to re-install my apps. The worry is apparent that I may slip back into old habits. What if I find myself incessantly scrolling? What if the comparison begins again?
You Are In Control
We forget that we are in full control of our habits and of how we spend our time. The worry may be present, but only we have the power to change the outcome. We can stop the scrolling before it becomes mindless. We can unfollow the accounts that make us feel worthless. We can turn off our devices before the addiction arises. We have the power to do so.
The detox didn’t however make me use my phone less. I was still texting as often, checking my Whats-app messages and refreshing my emails. I didn’t eliminate those modes of communication from my social media detox. I thought that it may lessen my need for communication, but it had in fact done the opposite.
That is where a social media detox is not enough. In fact, 10 days without a phone would be the hardest task of all. No way to communicate with your loved ones, no crutch in an emergency and definitely no casual time passer. The worry of not being contactable becomes a burden too hard to bear, and that could be what holds most of us back. In the day and age where most of us do not possess a landline telephone, our mobiles are our only vice. Without them, how could we exist?
Maybe, social media isn’t the enemy, it’s our mobile device that is.
Have you undertaken a social media detox before?