What I learned from a social media hiatus

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH ALL THAT TIME? — Instead of the endless news feeds, try some knitting or reading, as Julia did, to occupy your time. (Flickr)


About six months ago, I quit Facebook and Instagram. It was a rash decision brought on by long periods of annoyance and unhappiness – annoyance because I experienced phones continuously preventing genuine connection, and unhappiness because I realized that I was part of the problem.

Before I quit social media, I spent about two hours per day surfing through my Facebook and Instagram feeds. I’d check my accounts in the morning and before bed, during the awkward ten-minute periods before classes when everyone is staring at their phones and no one speaks, after lunch for a period of “relief” in the middle of the day that for some reason only added more stress and any other free section of time that I found.

By society’s standards, I would not have considered myself obsessed. I rarely posted updates or photos; I mostly shared and liked the posts of others.

During conversations with friends, I did not have trouble putting my phone away and paying attention to them. It wasn’t until my rash decision six months ago that I truly realized how much social media was affecting my life.

I had tried to quit before, first by deleting the apps from my phone. But I found myself slipping by using Safari instead. Eventually, I gave in and just redownloaded the apps. I thought about quitting cold-turkey, cutting myself off at the source by deleting my accounts, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that. Because of dance and school, I follow and am friends with so many people that live all over the United States and abroad, people that I may never be able to see again in person. Despite social media’s drawbacks, I couldn’t give up those connections.

Another point on my justification list was that I loved seeing pictures and updates from family and friends. How could I decide to close myself off from all of these wonderful stories and memories?

The answer: easily. One day, I simply said “enough.” I was home for the summer and hated the fact that I was spending more time on my phone than with my family, who I would be leaving in a few short weeks. I deleted the apps and haven’t looked back.

The first thing I noticed at the start of my social media hiatus was the amount of time I had. Those two hours that used to be filled with mindless scrolling were opened up to new connections and opportunities. I finished my homework earlier, exercised in the morning and had more time to write and read. I even took up knitting.

The second thing I noticed was how much time other people spend on their phones. Those ten minutes before class that I mentioned earlier were painful at first without my phone to distract me.

In most cases, I was the only one looking up. This made me ache as I saw more and more opportunities for connection lost. Finally, I noticed how much happier I was. I still read the news every morning and stay updated on the state of our nation and world, but I’m no longer bogged down all day with constant negativity.

I still haven’t deleted my accounts. I keep them in case I ever need to contact one of my friends and for when my mom tells me to look at something she thinks I’ll find interesting. Even then, I don’t scroll, like, comment or share.

My advice to you is to take the plunge. It’s not nearly as hard or lonely as you think. In fact, your life will become even more full without social media. Go on. Look up.

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