We are a society that is constantly on our phones. We use them for work, communicating with friends, reading, keeping up on social media, taking pictures, listening to music — the list goes on.
It’s even hard to wait for a reply from someone, because we’re so glued to our phones. While smartphones have been great and made life safer and easier for many, they can consume us and we don’t always notice it.
Spending less time on my phone was something that I knew I needed to work on for a while. I started noticing that the more time I spent staring at my small iPhone screen, the less happy I was.
I noticed that things that shouldn’t matter started to affect me in an unhealthy way. Why does the number of likes your post gets matter? Why does it matter who does or doesn’t like it? Why does it matter who does and doesn’t see it?
We’d like to say that it doesn’t matter, but for some of us, that doesn’t ring true in our hearts. I kept being drawn to this idea of validation and affirmation.
It took a hard conversation with someone whose opinion I respected to get me to see that I was looking towards social media for these things. So I decided to delete Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat from my phone.
I didn’t die of boredom.
We spend so much time on our phones. If there is ever a minute in the day that we become bored, we instantly fill the void by scrolling through social media.
I didn’t notice how often I used social media to fill the tiny voids of time during the day until I didn’t have it. Waiting in line for food. Waking up in the morning. Laying in bed before going to sleep. In between classes. During breaks at work.
Instead of remedying my boredom with social media, I read, I painted, I played with my dog, and I did yoga. I let myself experience the boredom. I was present.
I didn’t feel disconnected.
Not being able to see what strange videos that person from middle school shared on Facebook did not break my heart. I didn’t feel any less connected to the world without social media. Why do we need to see what others are doing 24/7? Does that really connect us? No.
I actually talked to people.
Instead of relying on social media to see how people were doing by looking through their posts and pictures, I asked them. I started a conversation. It is a lot easier to have a personal and real conversation in private rather than in comment section of Facebook and Instagram.
I spent more time investing in hobbies.
In one week, I have finished a book and I am over halfway done with two more. I put all of my oil paint and brushes to work and started painting. I invested in a good notepad and charcoal to try out a different art medium. And I got into the habit of doing yoga for 40 minutes a day.
I was less compelled to be on my phone.
While laying in bed at night, watching TV, and riding in the car, I felt less compelled to be on my phone, because it didn’t offer me the quick entertainment fix anymore. I didn’t even feel the need to charge it close to my bed at night.
When spending time with others, I left my phone in my room or back at home. How many times have we hung out with friends and family and just sat next to each other while staring at our phones?
I took fewer pictures.
This one mainly stems from Instagram and Snapchat. I noticed how many things I would take nonsense pictures of, like my cup of tea in the morning. I would think, “Oh I should take a picture of this,” and then think ,“But why? Just to have it in my photos?” I started to only take pictures of things that I would really want to save — things that are important to me.
I felt like I was a kid again.
I didn’t know what everyone was doing 24/7 and it was okay. My friends were still my friends, even though I didn’t see what was going on while I wasn’t with them. I wasn’t constantly filling my time with other people’s stuff and comparing it to my life. It felt like simpler times. It felt nice.
I don’t really want to go back to social media.
After a full week of being social media free, I don’t miss it.
I felt happier.
Maybe it was because I spent more time engaging in my hobbies. Maybe it was because I was being in the present moment. Or maybe it was because I wasn’t comparing.
If you find yourself looking for validation or affirmation in posts, likes, comments, views, or whatever else it is that social media provides, try giving it a break.
You don’t have to go big and delete all of your accounts. Maybe just delete an app or two on your phone. Unsubscribe from Facebook emails. Even if it is for one day. Out of sight out of mind, right? Give your brain some quiet time.
Maybe you’ll hate it or maybe you’ll love it. Either way, I guarantee you’ll learn something about yourself.