If you read my last blog then you knew that this was coming. For the past month, I deleted all social media off my phone to see what I’d experience.
Cool story, bro. Eat shit.
I’ll say again that deleting social media off my phone was no impressive feat especially given the fact that this wasn’t a total social media cleanse. I still allowed myself to jump on social media anytime that I was I on my laptop. In the end, that amounted to anywhere from a full day or two without social media, up to no more than three times in a day if I did find myself wanting to go on. And usually when I did hop on, it was nothing more than a quick check of my notifications. No mindless scrolling of social media was allowed.
My goal wasn’t a total social media cleanse but a cleanse from my phone itself.
I had got to a point where even though I felt like I had somewhat discipline with the amount of time that I was spending on my phone, I knew it was bullshit. I was lying to myself. Mindlessly wandering the vast matrix of social media for twenty minutes most certainly does not count as discipline.
Over the course of the month there were six things that I was able to takeaway from this little experiment. Before we get in to it though, if any one these should resonate with you or sound remotely appealing, I challenge you to one full month, thirty-one days with no social media on your phone. This doesn’t mean now that Instagram is gone you start to double down on YouTube, Pinterest, or anything else you can think of. And if you got bigger balls than me, then no social media, period. Now that the groundwork is laid out, let’s get into it.
1. I don’t really care for social media like I thought I did
I will say that the first week without having social media on my phone was a little weird. I shall call it the withdrawal week. Real original, guy. Just like somebody trying to kick an addiction, this is where I experienced the worst of the side effects. I felt out of the loop on everything. Knowing that there was this whole network of interaction taking place in the matrix while I was nowhere to be found was a little depressing if I’m going to be honest.
After that first week though, something started to shift. I noticed that I wasn’t missing it the way that I had been in the previous week…and it actually started to feel good. I stopped caring what people were doing and whether or not I was missing out. I stopped caring about watching people’s Instagram stories, who posted what, or checking to see the latest Facebook update.
I may sound like an asshole for saying that but I have my own life to worry about, as do you. This need to constantly be in know is so utterly ridiculous if you really stop to think about it.
Unless you’re in my immediate circle I can’t be wasting anymore of my time––time that’s taking me further away from my goals––to see what everyone else is doing. Same goes for you. When you make it to your grave you’re not going to be telling yourself “Wow! I’m really glad Sarah and Johnny worked things out! Now I can rest in peace!” Get out of here with that bullshit! This is what we want to waste our time on? People who will never directly impact our lives? C’mon son.
2. My phone became useless
This one is actually pretty comical. Once the social media is gone, you’re going to find yourself digging through your other apps trying to figure out which one is going to give you a fix for the next thirty-one days. With all you’re third-party apps cut out (YouTube, Pinterest, games) you’re going to find out very quickly that your phone is fucking useless. Sort of.
Besides music, podcast, and the occasional text, my phone was about as good as a rock in my pocket. It became so useless that I often found myself checking my Chase account trying to get some sort of a fix. Sad, I know. Should you catch yourself here, like I did, then I officially welcome you to rock bottom.
3. I remembered what it was like to be bored
When was the last time you were truly bored? Like the type of boredom that you can feel in your bones? You probably can’t even remember because neither could I before I deleted everything. The second we feel bored our phones swoop in like the knight in shining armor that they are to come and save us.
There’s literally no more being bored now a days. Who wants to be bored now a days, asshole? No one, really. But, sometimes, being bored is actually a good thing. It helps us look at our problems from different angles and studies have shown that boredom can actually help boosts our creativity. When you remember what it’s like to be this bored, what follows next is a bitch slap across the face making you realize how much free time you’ve been pissing away.
4. Free time out the ass
When it came time to cut ties with social media, I didn’t immediately start to compensate by watching more TV or playing video games as it seems like the logical thing to do. Quite the opposite actually. Without an extra outlet to soak up my new-found downtime, this made me realize just how little I was utilizing my daily twenty-four hours.
Break it down like this; a solid eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work, close to two hours worth of driving, and I’m left with around six hours of leisure time, give or take. This is usually how an average day looks for me.
Out of those six hours, if I added up all the times that I would “just check” or mindlessly scroll through the barren wasteland of social media, I could easily dock close to another two hours worth of wasted time on my phone leaving me with around four hours of leisure time, give or take. And those two hours also don’t include the extra time that I would check my phone throughout the course of the day. So, feel free to tack on some more time there. Yikes.
Anyways, that boils down to probably an hour worth of actual social media time and another hour for the time that it would take me to bring my attention back to whatever I was doing before hand. These just checks, as minor as they may seem, actually play a big role in how productive of a day you’re going to have by strengthening that impulsive connection to look at your phone. Don’t play yourself like I did thinking that you have control of your use of social media.
5. Less Anxiety
We’ve all heard of “FOMO” by now so naturally this one shouldn’t be a surprise. Think about it, how many times a day are you scrolling through social media to see what everyone is doing? Oh, I don’t know, 30+ in a day? And if you’re not on there to see what everyone’s doing, chances are you’re only on there because it has become an unconscious habitual response to boredom.
Every time we don’t act on that pull to check the latest and greatest, this creates anxiety. Even if you don’t undertake the challenge of one month with no social media, just try to go a day without checking your phone and see how long it takes before you feel that first twinge of anxiety that compels you to stare into the looking glass.
And if that’s not enough, how about that feeling that we get when we post a new photo only for it to fall short of our expectations on how many likes we thought it was going to get. Not only does that create even more anxiety, but now it also makes us feel pretty shitty about ourselves. Two for one deal to help fuck your day up!
Now imagine this; a world without that anxiety. A world without feeling like you need to be in know 24/7. This is not a grandiose sales-pitch. I shit you not, my friends. This can be yours. Obviously this isn’t going to rid you completely of your anxiety, but I will say that it helped alleviate around 10% for me. Not a bad trade off once I realized how little I actually care about social media.
6. Felt more present
Let’s end with this as I felt like it was the most beneficial takeaway next to #5.
Over the past couple of months, I noticed that my use of social media was slowly starting to consume my life. It wasn’t until about a week after I deleted everything when I really started to notice how much of a “social media” fog I was actually in.
While you’re in the fog, you can’t see that you’re in it. The fog is all you know. It becomes part of your reality. But, the second you step out of that fog to where you’re no longer in it, but looking at it, you’re blessed with a little bit of clarity and that bit of clarity is all you need. It’s a tangible change that you’re guaranteed to notice within the first two weeks of deleting social media that’s going to be a huge wake up call for you.
Where does this leave me?
I’m going to be bringing social media back to my phone. Fail. But! It won’t be done without strict guidelines. Instead of thinking that I was doing a good job monitoring my use of social media, I’m actually going to be doing a good job of monitoring the use of my phone. I’m going to do this by limiting myself to only two checks of social media in a day and the only social media app that I’ll actually have on my phone will be Instagram considering it’s my favorite. There’s no exceptions.
For some of you, you might only do two checks in a week. Hats off to you, but, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss it. I don’t feel that I should get rid of social media entirely. I genuinely enjoy it. But, should I want to continue my relationship with it, something needs to change. Rules need to be put in place so it’s not controlling my life the way that it was. Just like a diet or an exercise routine, I find it extremely hard, actually, almost impossible, to have the type of self-discipline that’s required to have the upper hand over something with this much of a pull behind it.
I strongly encourage anyone who read this to give the month challenge a shot. It gave me a whole new perspective on my relationship with social media that I think is going to go a long way.