What I Learned From A 30-Day Social Media Detox
We spend an awful lot of time on social media. Originally, we told ourselves that it was work related and necessary to us building our businesses or careers and, for the most part, we were right. However, it somehow evolved into a bad habit that we couldn’t let go of. Almost an addiction, really, and how do we deal with addictions? We cut them off, cold turkey.
At least that is what I did when I realized one day that I was spending way too much time on social media and it was affecting me in more ways than one. Not only was I wasting valuable work time, which was affecting my productivity, but spending too much time on social media was also affecting me physically, mentally, and emotionally. How so?
1. Social Media causes people to procrastinate
Instead of working out at the gym, I often found myself looking for new workouts on social media or seeing what people in my followers list were doing. This left me little time for my own workout, and I could see the results in the mirror. Too much time on social media also affects us mentally and emotionally as we see things we want, people we want to be like, and people who, in our minds, are better than us. Once we realize that most of the social media lifestyles are made up, we can let go off those feelings.
2. Social media can affect your self-worth
Magazines and advertising have long been criticized for upholding dangerously unrealistic standards of success and beauty, but at least it’s acknowledged that they are idealized. The models with the chiseled abs and the sharp jawlines are just that: models. And even they are made-up, retouched, and photoshopped.
These days, however, the impossible standards are set much closer, not by celebrities and models but by co-workers and friends. Most of us don’t realize that these people are just posting edited pictures online pretending their life is a little more glamorous than it is to get validation.
I decided that this was not how I wanted to value myself. Likes and comments should not be signs of validation. “My own opinion is way more valuable than anyone else’s and I won’t let other people determine my self-worth,” I thought to myself.
So, what did I do to fix all of this? I deleted my social media pages and started my social media detox. That’s right, no Facebook, no Twitter, and no Instagram. I, of course, kept my business accounts, but my personal social media accounts were no more. What happened next surprised me.
I thought that I would begin to feel like a drug-addict needing his next fix but instead, I only missed it for three days or so. As expected, the first few days were infact the most challenging ones. Like many people, my brain had been hardwired into compulsive checking. I grabbed my phone mindlessly, unlocking it to swipe back and forth between screens, looking for something, but what? Likes? Comments? Direct messages?
3. Social Media is addicting
I found out two things. First, you are addicted to social media — whether you realize it or not. The location of apps on my phone was ingrained into my muscle memory. I’d reach for social media without even thinking about it, only to realize that I was just pressing phantom buttons.
Later, I began to find things to take social media’s place. I searched online for free courses, I found some instructional videos to watch in my spare time and began to learn a new language. I became much more productive at work and wasn’t behind anymore. In fact, I was so far ahead that I could afford to take an extra day off to focus on myself. My confidence soared because I was no longer comparing myself to others or feeling jealous about the things other people ‘had’.
4. Most social media relationships are ‘fake’
By taking a break, I also noticed that specific people who genuinely want to keep in touch with me will make the effort to do so. Chances are, the majority of your followers consist of old friends that you no longer communicate with (you just feel bad to unfollow them), influencers that don’t really care about you and your close friends and family members who are always there – even when you are offline.
5. Unhealthy sleep patterns
I was using my phone in bed every single night and that had definitely impacted my sleep quality.
It's all too easy to tell yourself that you'll spend five minutes checking your Facebook notifications, only to realize an hour later that you've been mindlessly scrolling through Instagram content you don't even care about. I won’t let social media algorithms steal my valuable sleep anymore.
Make sure to turn off your phone an hour or so before bed because these smartphones emit a blue light that suppresses melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
I have now replaced Instagram scrolling with meditation and journaling and it has completely changed my life.
Temporary Or Long Term?
While this was just supposed to be a temporary experiment, I just might extend my social media detox another month and see if I notice any more changes. For now, the benefits of not being on social media far outweigh the time I feel that I wasted reading news stories that had nothing to do with me or watching hours of videos which provided absolutely no benefit to my personal or professional life.