I’d rather see you than your Instagram


Allie Pigg

I’ve heard it a million times: “Social media is taking over your life; it’s wasting your time.” I stay up for hours mindlessly scrolling through news feeds for no other reason than to find the bottom of the page. I’m one of those people who desperately waits for the bell to ring after each class so that I can pull out my phone to Snapchat my friends back. As much as I wouldn’t like to admit it, social media have consumed my life more than I would’ve ever thought. So I dropped it for a week.
To start my social media fast, I had to set some rules for myself so that I’d know my limits.
My rules:
[dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]1[/dropcap]Delete all social media off of my phone, including Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat
[dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]2[/dropcap]Text messaging, calling, using GroupMe and emailing is okay because I need those to communicate with my family and teachers for school.
[dropcap style=”flat” size=”2″]3[/dropcap]I will refrain from using these apps Saturday through Friday.
Once I had my rules set in place, I deleted the apps and started the fast, journaling one thing I learned during each day of the week from being unplugged. Here are the seven things I discovered from my social media fast.
Day 1 – Social Media: The Confidence Killer
Social media kills my self-esteem. I went to the courtwarming dance today. In previous dances, after spending hours with my friends getting ready, I would come home just to scroll through my Instagram feed to see how pretty everyone else looked. People put their best pictures on social media, where their bodies look the slimmest and their smiles are placed just right, and it makes them seem so perfect. In reality, however, they aren’t as put together as their social media page makes them out to be. Without having that feed to scroll through after the dance, I was able to come home to look at pictures of only my friends and me, and that spawned a whole new self-confidence that tends to get destroyed when looking at everyone else’s dance pictures, as I could simply focus on the effort my friends and I put into getting ready and how good we looked because of that.
Day 2 – Time to live a little
I have more time than social media leads me to believe. As a junior, sometimes it feels as if I’m taking on too much that I don’t have time for. It seems that among homework, leadership responsibilities and my social life, there’s no time to relax or spend any time to myself. Without social media in my life, it feels like I have so much more time to live. My apps weren’t there to distract me from my school work, as that is usually when my phone sits on my desk, taunting me. I noticed today how much the “I’ll just take a quick second to check Snapchat” breaks added up. I was able to get more work done, and I felt more accomplished because of that. I even had more time to put aside for myself, which included putting up my hammock and reading a good book, which I wouldn’t have had time to do with a life consumed by the internet.
Day 3 – A Realization of who my friends are
Logging off of social media has taught me who my real friends are. It’s so much easier to communicate with people through social media because it’s easily accessible. When I logged off, however, I had to put more effort into reaching out to people to make plans or just to talk, and my friends had to do the same for me. The people who were worth the effort to text or call or see in person are truly my closest friends because I still felt the need to talk to them while I was disconnected from social media.
Day 4 – Trading online lies for family ties
Staying off of social media allowed me to spend more time with my family. Instead of locking myself in my room every night to be on my phone, I ventured out into my house and had real conversations with my parents. Teenagers so often struggle with their relationships with their parents because they feel as if their parents don’t understand them, but simple talks between parent and child can break that barrier. Without being drawn into social media isolation, I used the extra time I had to talk with my family members about their day and their overall well-being, and I feel closer to them now after just a few catch-up chats.
Day 5 – The ancient practice of face-to-face conversation
Just because I’m disconnected from the social media world doesn’t mean I’m disconnected from the real world. I worried, initially, that logging off would give me a bad case of fear of missing out (FOMO), and I thought I could only catch up on the latest happenings through social media. Today, however, I resorted back to the earliest form of getting up to date on things: talking to people in person. It seems like such an ancient thing to talk to people about news, sports and good ol’ drama, but embracing conversation about those things with my friends is so much more fun than reading about them online. By talking in person I saw the emotions and reactions my friends had about recent events, and we connected through discussing how we felt about those things, rather than just gossiping back and forth.
Day 6 – The present of presence
Being present with the people around me is so incredibly powerful. While hanging out with friends or family before the fast, it always seemed as if I would get pulled away from the real-life conversation to check my online world.  I’d also find myself acting as if I was distracted online when I saw someone I didn’t want to talk to, or I’d miss out on an awesome moment because I was trying to catch it on video to post somewhere. Without social media, there’s none of that detachment. Instead of always focusing on what’s going on online or thinking about what I’m going to post next, I can live in the moment and embrace it. There’s no voice in the back of my mind pushing me to check what’s going on on my social media, and there’s no need to pull out the camera because there’s nowhere to post the video anyway. Being able to live in the moment with the people around me allowed me to see the world on a much more personal level because there were no notifications pulling me into the fake, online world.
Day 7 – The beauty of life beyond the screen
Life is so amazing when you have time to think about it. There’s always free time during the school day between lessons or between events. Usually I, along with the other people around me, would use the time to see what’s new on social media, and it often wasn’t much because everyone was in school. Without social media this week, I used the short spurts of free time to sit at my desk, pondering over what I had done thus far that day and even fell into a little daydream. The time to simply think about life was completely blissful. It felt like I wasn’t rushing to do anything, and it gave me time to rest my brain before the next bulk of content. I had time to contemplate life and all the good it had to offer. I was amazed by how relaxed I could feel after just a few minutes of being with myself and not with my world of social media. Instead of rushing to get through the news feed before the lesson started back up, I felt as if I had all of the time in the world to just take in the air surrounding me. I felt calmer during the week because I wasn’t checking social media during my free time.
After an insightful week offline, I downloaded my apps back. I didn’t miss social media as much as I thought I would. It’s nice having the apps back to reconnect with the friends I haven’t talked to this week, but I’ve chosen to apply what I’ve learned this week to change my social media usage. I don’t want to be on my apps as much anymore, and I don’t think it will be much of a struggle because I’ve realized all of the other things life has to offer me off of my phone. I’ll monitor myself whenever I seem to give into the scrolling-just-for-scrolling habit. I’ll still take homework breaks, but I’ll use them to do other things than catching up with social media. On the internet, there are so many things to see, so many people to talk to, but none of them compare to the life I can live off of the screen. The world beyond the screen is so beautiful, and I’m ready to stay logged onto the real world.