We’ve all heard it before: We’re addicted to our phones. Today’s teens are slaves to social media. Forget Beyoncé- the soundtrack of the 2010s is the hum of our WiFi routers. All this is true, but it wasn’t always. I still remember the night in third grade when my family got our first printer. I also remember the Instagram account I started in eighth grade and failed to hide from my parents. If you scroll back far enough, you’ll see my first posts, taken before I had an iPhone, before I really dove into social media, and before I had my device on my hand, like, 24/7.
Now, I want to preface what I’m about to write by saying that I used to pride myself on my “good” phone habits. My parents were pretty disciplined with my cell phone, so I knew never to use it at the table or while with another person. Unfortunately, this early conditioning didn’t stick. Over the past couple of years, I started taking out my phone and checking email or social media every chance I got. In the hallway between classes? Phone out. Waiting in line? Phone out. Bored at the lunch table? Phone out. Granted, my behavior mirrored that of pretty much everyone around me, but still! That’s a lot of head-down time.
Up until recently, I never found my phone usage disturbing. You might remember my almost disappointingly painless tech-free day last summer, which seemed to confirm that I was far from dependent on those 21st century vices. Over the past several weeks, however, my impulse to check social media amplified by what feels like 100 times. Not only was I checking Insta or Facebook several times an hour, but I was also finding it harder and harder to pull away. Just a couple nights ago, for example, I spent an entire hour scrolling through Instagram. I’m no exaggerating when I say I felt glued to the screen- every time I tried to move another photo, hashtag, or location sucked me back in. When I finally did break away, I felt awful: mopey, eyes burning (the glare is real, yo), and sluggish. That, as you might imagine, was something of a wake-up call.
After dinner that same night, I deleted Instagram, Facebook, and my email account from my phone. To be clear, I do not think these platforms are evil- far from it, actually. In the last year alone, social media led me to several people whom I’ve now met and consider friends and mentors. For now, though, I really need a break. A break from the scrolling, a break from the constant email updates, and break from comparing myself to others’ online personas. As I write this, I’m 48 hours into my “experiment,” and I’m amazed at how much more time I found to read, reflect, and more when I wasn’t wasting minutes at a time on social media!
It’s funny…normally I’d end a post like this with something like “Follow along with me on Instagram for more updates,” but I obviously can’t say that here. Instead, I invite to join me this week by taking a mini social media break of your own. Why don’t you turn of your phone- not silenced! really off- for a couple hours each day? Or delete a couple apps for 24 hours? Whatever you feel like you need most…walk in that direction, with your head up. 🙂
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Have you ever “quit” social media? If so, how long did you do it for? What did you notice/how did you feel afterwards?