‘Give yourself time to digitally detox from your constantly connected life, and keep your phone away from your bed’ – Caroline Ghosn
My name’s Helen and I’m addicted to social media. I wrote a while ago about an app you can get for your phone which tracks how often you look at it and the results were quite alarming. I’ve started noticing that slowly over recent times that I’m on my phone even more than ever, checking when I don’t even have a notification for something and becoming overly obsessed with my stats.
It all came to a head for me when I noticed that two people I knew had stopped watching my insta stories and unfollowed me completely, respectively and it really upset me. First world problems I know. But how much it upset me actually shocked me These weren’t people I see or speak to often at all so the fact they were no longer interested in engaging with me wouldn’t make a difference to my day to day life whatsoever but I couldn’t help but worry about what I’d done wrong. I even thought about asking them, but I’ve never begged for anything in my life and wasn’t going to start now. It was becoming clear to me though that social media was starting to take over my life and I needed to take a step back.
So I switched my phone data and wifi off for 48 hours over a weekend; from 5pm Friday to 5pm Sunday night. I left sms messaging on in case there was some major family emergency but other than that was pretty cut off. To be honest, that amount of time alone with my own thoughts was quite frankly terrifying, I knew it had to be done, and I also knew I would have to keep myself busy to avoid temptation.
I found the first Friday evening difficult. We went to the pub for a few drinks then home for tea and to watch a film, so why did I need my phone so much? I didn’t. It was pure habit. It dawned on me pretty quickly that I’m only ever half doing something. Half watching a film, half having a conversation, because if I’m not looking at my phone the other half of the time I’m certainly thinking about it.
The rest of the weekend was easier and in fact I started to relax and enjoy not being a slave to my Samsung so much. I went for a run, met my mum for coffee, did a bit of shopping then had a girls night in with Ang and Steph. All stuff I would have done whether I had my phone on or not and the only difference is I probably would have been documenting every moment of it to show off to people I don’t know on the internet.
When I turned my data and Wi-Fi back on on the Sunday night my home screen looked like this:
But did I actually miss anything vital? Of course I didn’t. Because everyone else is going on with their lives, going to the pub, meeting people for coffee and having nights in with their friends. I’m not claiming to have had some amazing epiphany and that I’m going to switch back to basics with an old Nokia 3310 where the only distraction is trying to beat my high score on Snake.
Being disconnected for the weekend wasn’t ideal; it would have been handy to have been able to check the metro times or Google who that guy was in the film we were watching and I’m still on the fence as to whether WhatsApp and emails count as social media? So for me there has to be a happy balance and I’ll be looking for ways to disable certain apps for periods of time without having to uninstall every time to give myself a break without having to become completely disconnected.
I’m a social person, i like being connected to my friends and i love my little WhatsApp groups where we send funny memes and screen shot annoying things on instagram to dissect. But what this has taught me is I don’t have to be connected all the time. You don’t have to respond to a text or an email straight away, it’s ok to put your phone out of sight if you’re watching a film, and no matter what the top ‘influencers’ tell you, you don’t have to have your Insta stories rolling constantly. Mine dropped of for 48 hours and i dont think anyone noticed. And if they did I’m pretty sure they didn’t care.
Since the detox I’ve changed my phone habits a little bit. For starters I try really hard to make sure it stays in my handbag if I’m in the pub or out for dinner and it goes upstairs if I’m watching a film. But most importantly i had a bit of a social media cull of all the people and accounts that stressed me out. I unfollowed those two people I told you about at the beginning because it hurt to see them interact with mutual friends when for whatever reason they decided I wasn’t their cup of tea any more. Anyone I was friends with on Facebook who were spouting hate or being general mood hovers got muted and one person for whatever reason was making it their mission to nit pick at me passive aggressively via Twitter DMs got blocked.
And I’ve felt so much better for it. It was hard at first and there was temptation to check their accounts to see what they were up to, purely out of masochistic curiosity but at the end of the day, it didn’t matter, and I was wasting time which could have been better spent interacting with people who like and support me.
I’m incredibly lucky to get the support that I do and i work hard for my little corner of the internet. And if all it took was 48 hours to remind me that life is so much more important than stats and followers and likes and shares are all nonesense then it was 48 hours well spent.