For the whole month of November, 2018 I took a hiatus from social media. For the past year it has become increasingly obvious that I had a problem with overusing social media apps and they in turn, wreaking havoc on my mental health. The moment I opened my eyes in the morning I would reach for my phone and just start scrolling. I put off chores, workouts, and other obligations in lieu of watching people post pictures of their breakfast or post about their 5th pregnancy. At night, I would turn the lights off and stick my head under the covers (so my husband would not see the light from my screen) and keep scrolling until I passed out (phone still in hand). I constantly woke up feeling tired, unrefreshed, and my mood and self-esteem were consistently low.
I did not make the connection that the reason for my fatigue and mental “fog” was due to my overuse. The blue-light screen plus hours of viewing other people’s lives instead of living my own is a potent combination. The weekend would come and I would have plans to clean, take the dog to the park, or have brunch with friends and instead would get sucked into my phone and then half the day would be gone. I would also find myself in despair after seeing all the exciting things people posted about their lives, homes, travels, and then I would feel inadequate about my own. Instead of getting off the couch and feeling inspired to create a life that I wanted, I would feel discouraged and spend the rest of the day moping around thinking “My life is never going to be that good, so why even try?”
The most memorable comparison I recall was being in Shanghai, China and was scrolling through social media and saw someone was in Patagonia, Chile and I thought to myself: “Wow, I wish I was there.” I was in the arguably the most vibrant, exciting city in the world and yet I was longing to be somewhere else just because someone posted how incredible their trip was going. Not to mention I was spending my trip on social media instead of soaking in the present city. I had to scold myself when I realized I was jealous of a person I barely knew’s trip when I was on a trip some people will only ever dream of.
That is when I decided I had enough. I decided to put a stop to feeding my spirit with things that were causing more harm than benefit. I decided for 30 days I was going to end the cycle of abuse I created for myself. I decided for the month of November to delete all my social media apps (including Pinterest and Poshmark, both of which I spent hours mindlessly scrolling through) off my phone and to not use them at all for 30 days.
The first week was the hardest for me. At night I wanted to come home from work and escape with social media. I went on a trip to Seattle the second week and had to stop myself from putting the photos I took on my feed. In the first two weeks, I constantly felt “the itch”. The itch was the feeling of need to reach for my phone and click onto my apps, which occurred multiple times a day. My hand felt almost naked without a phone in it (however, my thumb pain from scrolling improved). It was a habit I created that did not want to die.
Finally, around week two, I started noticing the benefits. I was sleeping better and waking up more refreshed, because previously I was up odd hours of the night on my phone. I started to feel less despondent about my life and more grateful. I really did not have a lot to compare it to so the choices I made or the things I experienced were not influenced by what the rest of the world was doing. I was more present with my husband and friends because I was not too busy playing on my phone. By the last week, I did not even miss being on social media. There are still apps I currently have not logged into since I deleted them.
Social Media, like most things, has its perks and flaws. Its perks are that is allows us to stay connected with the people we love, to market businesses, to share art, to meet new people, etc. Its flaws are that it keeps us from enjoying the present, distracts us from getting things done, encourages us to compare ourselves to others, to buy more things, and it promotes FOMO (fear of missing out) when we see with one click what everyone else is doing at that exact moment and wish we were there instead of here.
Life is not always sitting on a beach in Cancun, drinking margaritas topless. Sometimes it is standing in the messy kitchen, wishing for a nap, but instead yelling at your dog to stop barking, threatening that if he does it one more time you are going to throw him in the street. Sometimes it is sitting in your cubicle at work all day, trying to get through the hours so you can go home, flop on the couch and scroll through Netflix. Life is not always glamorous. For the most part it is not social media worthy. So why do we make it seem like it is?
Seems to be so much effort to make it look like life is a constant orgasm. We buy things we cannot afford to make it seems like our lives are more luxurious than they are. We travel places only to take pictures to show others that we went there and to make them jealous that they are not. We spend our time editing, brightening, styling, and cropping our lives so that they fit in a tiny square photo waiting to get approval from others by the amount of “likes” received
It is okay that sometimes I spend Friday nights watching television with my husband on the couch while other people are out at concerts, dancing and drinking with their friends. It is okay that I am not always #livingmybestlife and am riddled with anxiety and my house is a mess and I have a pimple the size of Texas on my chin while at the same time other people are in Spain on a yacht, making love to a buff guy named Enrique. It is okay because it is my life- real life. Sometimes real life is just okay, and that’s okay. Frankly, I am just glad to finally be living it.