It was front page news when Kendall Jenner up and left Instagram for all of a week, citing that she needed a “little bit of a break” from the social media platform. Even bigger still was Justin Bieber’s rather abrupt exit from the app following fan outrage surrounding his relationship status. Sure, taking a “digital detox” has become one of the latest trends everyone is trying to get onboard with, but with all of this un-plugging going on I can’t help but argue that digital detoxing is less of a trend or act of rebellion and actually a refreshing necessity.
Now obviously I run this blog and an Instagram account, so for me to up and leave both of those apps would sort of break my heart. I love all aspects of blogging, and so I know that those two platforms are ones I will be keeping around. The same cannot be said for apps like Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and even my beloved Tumblr, however, and I can certainly take steps to spend less time scrolling through Instagram throughout the day. I was starting to become obsessive with checking and refreshing, and so before I slipped past the point of no return I decided to take a step back. Two steps back, actually. For me it has been a very positive experience, and here’s why.
You Aren’t Missing Anything
In my opinion, millennials (yes, I’m going to call us all out on this one) feel the need to be on every social media platform out there strictly out of fear of missing out. On what? I’m not too sure, but our generation and those younger than myself have all grown up on technology —it is easy for us to pop in and out of apps, send multiple messages and emails, and post pictures or videos all within a few short minutes. It takes minimal effort on our part, while the simple premise of sending a tweet sends our parents into a frenzy.
But despite having the ability to instantaniously connect with those far from us, we ultimately taint the connections with those immediately around us. We live in an era where capturing our memories through pictures or videos is more important than actually experiencing them. Correct me if I’m wrong, but texting or looking at your phone while in the middle of a face to face conversation is inherently rude, but we have become so comfortable with our phones that it is becoming the new norm.
I didn’t miss anything when I took my break from social media. If anything it’s absense decluttered my mind because I wasn’t being overfed with pointless information that quite frankly added nothing substantial to my life. If something important or significant was happening or happened, my friends would text me about it! A pretty photo of the beach or a snapchat from a party won’t add nearly as much to your life as the moments you share in person with those who matter. No need for FOMO (which stands for “fear of missing out,” to all my older readers)!
It’s Good For Your Mental Health
I never truly understood just how much social media had been adding to my stress levels until it was gone. I often scroll through my timelines and newsfeeds and close the app feeling anxious, stressed, and glum before I decided to detox, but as soon as the voices I would read and see on those apps every day were no longer whispering into my sub conscious I felt lighter. Once more, I realized just how easily I was letting the opinions and words of others (some of whom I don’t even know) effect me.
Social media is in large part a production; a hand picked highlight real that users share with friends and strangers, which can make it hard to distinguish which parts of peoples personalities are real and which are for just for show. As such, it can also be easy to fall into the darker side of social media; the side where you start to compare yourself to others or feel the need to impress complete strangers with your online presence. That can be a toxic situation for many people to be a part of, and often it isn’t until you seperate yourself from it before you realize how harmful it can be if you let it.
Sure, there are many, many great aspects to social media. Personally, my blog serves as a huge source of happiness, but I would be lying if I said I had never felt that darker side creeping in. Taking a step back can help clear the mind, and make sure you are only keeping the things that make you happiest in your life.
You Don’t Use Half of Those Apps Anyway
Now I’m not saying you have to quit cold turkey and delete every trace of social media from your life, but maybe consider which apps you can go without. Haven’t tweeted in over a month? Kiss Twitter goodbye and free up some extra memory on your phone. Find yourself down and inadequite every time you scroll through Instagram? Maybe it’s best to take a break from looking at the perfectly currated lives of strangers for a while. Or maybe you’ve found yourself getting riled up over Aunt May’s Facebook rants…toss that one into the virtual trash can too. For up to two months after you delete an app your information will still be logged into them, so you don’t have to worry about resetting all those passwords you’ve no doubt forgotten. For those extra brave souls out there you can even go so far as to perminently delete your accounts, and for that I solute you.
More Time For What Matters Most
As I said before, our generation lives in this constant state of fear that we might miss a tweet or post or snap when we could simply enjoy the here and now instead. Half the time I open an app out of habit instead of genuine interest, and it wasn’t until they were no longer on my phone that I realized just how often I unlock my phone and start scrolling through apps for no reason at all. I could hardly make it through 20 minutes of a movie without the incessant need to scroll my thumb! It is amazing how much more present you become in your conversations, interactions and life when the temptation to look at your phone is removed from the equation.
This year for the first time on Thanksgiving my family made an unspoken rule that we would all leave our phones on a table in the kitchen and stay off of them for the day. By the end of the night my Nana had made a point to tell us all how nice it was that no one was looking at their phones all day, and it made me sad that we hadn’t spent every holiday like that. The Holidays are a rare time when everyone is all together, and pretty soon that will change. I would much rather have memories of time spent with my family members on Thanksgiving or Christmas than waste that time on my phone. It has already replaced your GPS, alarm clock, camera, don’t let it replace your family.
Maybe your detox will lead to your ditching those apps for good, or maybe it will just leave you feeling refreshed before jumping back into those ugly Christma sweater party photos or Instagramming your mug of hot chocolate. No matter the outcome, the holidays are the time to be present with those around us physically, not virtually. Take that time not just for yourself but for them too. I guarantee the memories you make will improve your life more than any tweet or post you might miss.