Taking a Break from Social Media

Social media, the majority of us have some form of it whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or one of the many others. I love social media I think it is a great thing to have. It allows us to keep in touch with family and friends as well as follow our favourite celebrities. However, I think that taking a break from it is often forgotten about. Many times within the past year, I have stepped away from it for a bit. Most recently was yesterday (26/04/2020) actually.

I originally wrote down my experience almost a year ago but never posted it anywhere. I don’t know why I didn’t but I want to now. This post will be a bit longer and different from my previous ones but please continue reading. Also, I am not going to be filling this with facts and statistics, although they are important. To be honest, I forgot the percentage of people who have social media accounts about 5 minutes after researching it! So if it’s not going to stick in my mind, it is probably going to have that same effect on someone else.

Now, I’m not going to preach about why everyone should step away from social media but I am going to be telling you my experience and what I have learnt from it because I feel like it’s not talked about much. If after reading this you think it’s time for you to step away from social media for a bit, that’s great, I hope you get out of it what you want. On the other side, if you don’t feel ready to take a break, that’s great too because that is your life and you have to do what’s best for you. Whatever you decide to do there is no time frame. You can click that log out button whenever you like and you can re-download the app when you feel that it is the right time. No one is going to judge you for your decision.

The first time I took a social media break was back in March 2019. I was frustrated and bored with it all so I decided to log out of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. The only ‘social media’ platforms that I kept were YouTube, for workout videos and some music, Facebook Messenger, for important group chats and Pinterest, for all the inspirational quotes that just flood my timeline! Now, I didn’t just log out, I deleted the apps as well because I knew that if I kept them on my phone I would’ve given up by about midday.

For the first few days, it did take some adjusting and it was hard, I will admit. I’m pretty sure after about day 2 or 3 I was going to re-download the apps because I thought I was ready but thankfully my brother quickly talked me out of it. I am so glad that he did because afterwards, I realised that I wasn’t ready and I needed a few more days. This break lasted for about 5 days.

In May 2019 I took a break again. This time it lasted longer, about 2 weeks. On day 2, I was talking to my cousin and he asked how I was finding the break. It was after that conversation I realised that I didn’t miss scrolling through Instagram or reading the random articles on Snapchat. I wasn’t expecting to feel like that especially since I have had a Facebook account since I was about 13. Social media and the internet, in general, has just turned into something so familiar and normal to me.

Since then I have done a couple of days off instead of weeks. My first assignment at University was to go 24 hours without my phone. It’s safe to say we were all pretty shocked by this assignment. I know many people did not complete the whole 24 hours which is understandable. I did attempt it and surprisingly managed to do the whole 24 hours! During this challenge I realised how much I rely on my phone during day to day life, whether it is to listen to music, text someone or to use maps. Honestly, I don’t know if I could do that again.

This then brings me to my most recent break, as well as deleting Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, I also deleted Pinterest. This time was a lot more challenging. I had been meaning to take a break for a while but for some reason, I kept putting it off. Taking a break during lockdown was not easy. Trying to distract myself by being productive is hard at the moment anyway but not having social media to scroll through, made the day seem a bit longer. Still, though it was refreshing to not be constantly seeing what everyone else is doing with their day.

I feel like most young people have this stigma around them that they are always glued to their phones, which in a lot of cases is true. I will admit that I am usually one of those people but by not having Instagram to scroll through I found I was more productive and happy. Normally, I would plan to do something but I would always think to myself ‘oh just a quick social media check’ which should take me no more than 5 minutes but ends up taking me about half an hour. By this time I could have had that chore done or I could be half ready for going out.

Now, I know a lot of people get their news from social media and that might be one of the many reasons why people don’t take the breaks (that was the main reason why it took me so long to delete my twitter account). But you’re NOT disconnected from the world without Twitter or Facebook there are other ways to find out the same information. Having a news app on my phone means that I can look at the news whenever I want without going onto social media. Of course, there are other ways of keeping up to date like watching the news or reading the newspaper.

During these breaks, I did realise a few things. Firstly, as I said earlier, you’re not disconnected from the world. You can always text your friends or meet up with them to find out how they are and what they have been up to. You can also go online or buy a newspaper or magazine to find out about recent events instead of waiting for it to come up on your timeline. Secondly, it’s a nice break mentally as you are not allowing yourself to compare yourself to others. If you are considering a break then be prepared for it to be hard. It’s something that you’re not used to so don’t be disappointed if you don’t go as long as you originally thought. Put a post on your profile to say that you are taking the break, especially if you are normally really active on your accounts. This way people know why you’re not posting and your friends/family will know you’re not ignoring their messages. However, if you don’t want to do a post maybe message a few key people that you talk to a lot so they’re aware if you suddenly stop replying to them. Finally, discipline. Social media breaks are something where you’re going to have to be your own cheerleader and know the difference between being bored and wanting to download them again and actually feeling ready to re-join the social media world.

Well, that was a summarised version of my experience and I know everyone’s experience will be different. I don’t know if what you have just read has inspired you or not but thank you for making it through that. To anyone that is going to take a social media break, good luck, I know you can do it!!

Have a lovely week, stay safe, see you Friday.

Emily x

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