My 30-day social media free journey

Kaitlyn Williams

When I was a child, I stopped going outside to play with the other kids in the neighborhood at a very young age. It wasn't because the kids outside were mean to me. But because I had found a new and improved form of entertainment: Social Media. From the moment Angry Birds replaced a good old fashioned game of hide and seek or tag, my basic life skills took a turn for the worse.

I’ve never thought about deleting social media because I've always had it, and I thought nothing harmful came from me having it. Social Media played a huge role in my childhood, and it became a part of me. Social media always kept me up-to-date with slang, trends, and news. Without it, I was clueless and bored out of my mind.

Instead of enjoying the life that blesses me, I would constantly be wishing that I could live some stranger's life because of how they portrayed it on social media. We all know people's lives are not as glamorous as they make it seem on social media to their followers. As a young and impressionable child, I believed all of it. I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought that I took the wrong path and that was the reason I wasn't living an amazing storybook life like they were. From that point forward I did my best to seem “cool” but what was my definition of cool? My definition of cool wasn't what I liked, but what was popular on social media at the time. Another word for something that is popular at a certain point in time is a trend. Throughout the years I've followed these trends, never stopping to ask myself ‘why?’, ‘why do I like these things?’, ‘Why do they spark my interest?’ You could call it a ‘Shoot first, ask questions later mentality, and with that mentality more than half of my basic life skills went out of the window.



January 2, 2020

Because I wanted to connect again to the social world outside my phone, I decided to delete all of my social media apps off on January 2. The idea overwhelmed me, but I needed a break.

January 9, 2020

My first full week without social media has been completed, and in all honesty, I’m OK. As of right now, I’m seeing more of the benefits from not being on social media than being on it. I was so used to coming home from school and scrolling through Tik Tok for hours on end, but since I hadn't had any more of my socials, I had to find something to fill my time besides homework. I started listening to music and dancing. I’ve discovered really good music from artists, such as BENEE, Jaden Smith, Rex Orange County, and BLACKPINK. BLACKPINK’S choreography for their songs is fun to dance to, so I would usually dance to their music. I often danced until 12am because I felt like I had absolutely nothing to do. As the week went on, I realized I could be so much more productive than what I was giving myself. I started reading a new book, Turtles all the way down, by John Green. So far it’s an amazing read, although it’s a bit difficult to read due to the graphic imagery.

The biggest disadvantage of not having Snapchat was when I became unable to communicate with my new teammates about our upcoming tournament. I told my teammates that my parents took my Snapchat away, so they made an iMessage group chat for me. Other than that little hiccup, there weren’t any bumps in communication.

Just the other night I went downstairs to talk with my family. We ate dinner together and talked about how everyone's day had gone, and the new shows we had started watching on Netflix. I consider that simple task very productive because it’s not often that I leave the comfort and safety of my own room. Withdrawals from lack of social media gripped me because I went cold turkey with something that I've had access to since I was in elementary school. I would find myself grabbing my phone looking for social media even though I had already deleted it. It's as if I had no control over my own actions.

I thought the best way to battle these withdrawals would be to focus on important tasks that I needed to complete, such as school work, or laundry. I began to see myself become more productive and actually procrastinate less on my school work with so much more time on my hands. After I finished with all my school work, I began to invest in myself and my personal hobbies such as music, personal fitness, and my well-being/ mental health. I’ve been discovering lots of new music, dancing a lot more, meditating, and doing face masks. I felt my mind become more clear over this week since I wasn't so consumed with figuring out the latest trends, or drama on social media. I spent more time focusing on the present and enjoying the moment. Instead of scrolling through social media all night during a family dinner, I would actually talk with them and see how they were doing. Although one week is such a short period of time, I’ve noticed there’s a lot less drama circling me because a majority of the drama I encounter is from social media. I’m less compelled to pick up my phone when I'm talking to someone or if I'm having an awkward conversation since I have nothing to look at. The other day one of my classmates talked about how she was struggling with a concept in class. Instead of sympathizing with her, I shared my notes with her and told her if there was anything else I could do I would be able to help her. I’m finally walking back into reality, a reality where I have more meaningful conversations with the people around me, and I'm more observant of the world. I’m not living in my own little world as much as I used to and at the moment I am genuinely enjoying it.


January 16, 2020

My second full week without social media has been completed, and to be brutally honest, I feel drained. I feel lonely because I see all of the people that I associate with on their phones and they’re not paying attention to me. I feel somewhat ignored. I'm starting to feel the repercussions of not having social media. I know that there are lots of new trends on Tik Tok or Instagram that I don’t know about, and all of my friends are laughing about it. I feel isolated not being able to laugh along with my friends. Like there’s this inside joke and I'm on the outside looking in, making me feel extremely out of the loop. Nonetheless, I will still push through and finish my commitment to this experiment. I think today I’ve just been in a bad mood, but my whole week has been pretty good. I’ve opened up my social circle, and I've started talking to new people whom I normally wouldn't be compelled to approach.

I didn’t know anybody in my photography class two weeks ago, but now that I can't use my phone to escape from social interaction, I've met these two sweet girls: Andersen and Olivia. We had to complete a photography scavenger hunt together on the first day of class, and they were both very encouraging and helpful.

“Do you know how to set up the camera so the photos are actually clear?” I asked

“Yeah, it’s actually really easy. You can just come with us and we can help you out,” Olivia responded

I was new to photography, so I had no idea what I was doing. I always asked for assistance, and they never failed to help me.

I was proud to accomplish a non-social media goal by getting out of my comfort zone and talking to new people in my school. I'm looking forward to getting to know Andersen and Olivia better.

I’m also focusing on my mental health at the moment and making sure I don’t feel so lonely. I want to no longer feel as though I’m doing something wrong, causing my friends to stop talking to me. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not getting as much social interaction because I don’t have social media, so I am going to wait until I'm out of this funk to start talking to my friends again. When I’m in a funk like this, I tend to take things out of proportion and overthink, so I am going to go home, watch some Love Island, clean my room, and spend some time with myself. That I'm smiling while writing this shows that in some way I have grown, and I'm learning to cope with my feelings better. My usual reaction to feeling left out or unappreciated would be to get really defensive and impulsive, but I’m learning to enjoy spending time with myself and learning more about who I am. I’m helpful, creative, social, and enthusiastic about life.

I'm also excited because I am learning to keep promises to myself rather than search for what others are doing for themselves. I bought some Henna from Amazon, and I had been waiting a while to use it. I also need to run some errands and grab contact solutions and Moringa powder for smoothies that I will be making to increase my health. I’m even looking forward to practicing with the SAT book my mom bought. I love that I’m starting not to let myself get sad simply because I can't see if the people I hang out with in school are hanging out without me or if my actual friends are doing things without me. I know for a fact they are, and that's okay. That doesn't hurt our friendship or our relationship. I am not entitled to be invited to hangouts or anything of the sort. I am entitled to loving myself and enjoying my life to the best of my ability, and I will do so without social media.

I’ve also noticed that I am trying my own ways to improve my health, ways that are self-reflective rather than social media reflective. I fasted for sixteen hours this week to become more observant of the kinds of food I should be eating and how often I should eat. I am questioning the idea that I need to eat three meals plus snacks all in one day. I have a tiny addiction to food, and I'm working hard to get rid of it. I’ve let food control my life for so long, and it’s resulted in me being unhappy with my appearance. Since I started the fast, I’ve had a lot more control over what, how, and when I eat. I feel so accomplished knowing that if I really put my mind to something I can achieve it. I haven't been food crazy for the last week, and it feels really good. I’ve been working out more often as well, boosting my dopamine and serotonin in a much more lasting way than that split-second boost a “like” on social media provides. Now, when I feel inspired, I actually act on it instead of saying “I could never look that good” or “I could never ____ that well”. Now I have a growth mindset. It’s pretty cool.



What led me to start thinking about getting rid of my social media was my feed constantly showing me other people doing what I dreamed of doing. On Tik Tok and Instagram, I would see lots of people traveling the world, making money, learning new languages, learning to play instruments, and doing so many more things that I wanted to do myself. Yet I could never bring myself to stop scrolling. I slowly began to realize social media was somewhat of an addiction. I would trade in things, such as face-to-face human interaction, just to stay in my comfort zone.

I didn’t realize that harsh fact until I started this experiment. My breaking point was when I became aware of how I felt without my phone in general. I broke my phone a week earlier before I decided to start with this experiment. My phone was badly broken, so I had to wait a few days for it to be repaired; those few days without my phone felt like hell. I had to hold conversations with my classmates. I had to acknowledge my family's existence. I couldn't see the latest trends on Tiktok, and I couldn't see what my friends were posting on Snapchat or Instagram. During these days, I reached for my phone, well aware of the fact that it was broken and being repaired. This week, I reach inside myself and to others in the real world.



January 22, 2020

My grades have been improving, and I've been more focused on my school work. English is usually my worst subject because it involves reading articles or books that I don’t find interesting. Which resulted in me never understanding the tests. I was determined on improving my grades so I made sure to at least watch crash courses to understand the plot. It was a huge help. I was pretty social all this week but towards the end, I felt really drained. I am an introvert so that makes sense. To recharge my social battery, instead of going to the basketball game at the end of this week, I went home and slept. Over this weekend I had a volleyball tournament. It didn't start off very well, but over time we did improve, and I know what I need to work on in practice to make sure I don’t make those mistakes again. Over these few weeks, I've noticed that I don't beat myself up as often as I used to over small mistakes. I actually focused on how I could improve and not just on why I’m not the best. This mindset has transferred to other parts of my life, not just sports. I had a Spanish test this week but didn't do as well on it as I wanted, earning a 49/55. I remember briefly looking over my test and realizing my mistakes were not from a deep lack of understanding of Spanish, but small errors. While looking through the test, I didn't beat myself over the head like I usually would. I found myself asking questions like ‘how can I improve?’ ‘What do I need to do to get better?’. I can definitely work on those trouble areas this weekend. After the volleyball tournament, I went to my sister’s fashion show at U of M, and I was beyond tired. But I did get to see my sister walk down a runway, which was really awesome. Overall, I had a really good time. I had a math test this week as well, and I got the help that I needed and made sure I studied hard, earning me a good grade. I’m a lot more productive than I used to be and I work harder to get good grades. All in all, this week has been really great.



The continual positive effects of this experiment are somewhat of a shock because I felt like a different person after such a short amount of time. Yet the only thing that changed about my daily routine was the absence of social media.

After that everything fell into place, not to say that my life felt perfect after this experiment. But I saw a lot of positive changes that I didn't get to see while I had social media. Here are some of the positive changes I see in my life near the end of these thirty days: Instead of procrastinating, I’ll finish my homework as soon as I get home. I’m more focused on my goals, and I identify the steps I need to take to reach them, instead of focusing on what people online are doing with their lives and how I’m not like them. I’ve noticed I’m more outgoing and social since I can't interact with everyone on social media the way that I used to. I now talk to my friends either at school or on the phone. Overall, I’m more focused on what actually matters to me and makes life more enjoyable.

The cons of this experiment were almost insignificant because they could be solved quickly. Feeling left out at times because I didn't hear from my friends could be fixed with a text or calling them more often. I communicated with my closest friends through social media about 80% of the time so we didn't text or call each other that often. Once I made the decision to text, call, or hang out with my friends, I didn't feel left out. I started this experiment feeling extremely bored since I had not developed any hobbies. I didn't know what to do in my free time. An easy solution to this problem was to simply look up “Things to do when you're bored”, and I was all set. I deprived myself of being me by holding onto social media.. I’ve lost years of making new friends, spending quality time with my friends and family, finding new hobbies, reading good books, finding good TV shows, or something as simple as waking up early to watch the sunrise.



February 3, 2020

I finally moved into my new house and it’s really nice. Although it’s smaller, I like the interior design of the new house more than my old one. It’s more open and a lot of sunlight comes in during the day. I prefer natural light over artificial light. I’m not as homesick as I thought I would be though. I feel safer in the new house than I did in the old house. My new house is in a more secluded area, and there’s less noise from the other neighbors. Today is February third so the experiment is finally over. I logged onto social media and posted a link to a funny video I saw on Youtube to my Snapchat story, but then I logged out because I felt like that was already enough for today.



I would recommend a break from social media to anyone: whether you take a break out of pure curiosity of what life would be like or if you’re overwhelmed with everything that social media brings and demands. The break doesn't have to be a full 30 days. It can be as small as a couple of hours or even just a week. What’s important is to do what you think is best for yourself and your well-being. Everyone's experience away from social media will have a different effect on them because everyone's living situation is unique. If you decide to step out of your comfort zone and take a break from social media I hope that you will have an even more positive experience than I did.



Now I'm going to do the same thing this month that I did last month. Stay off of social media.

The quality of my life improved greatly as did my relationship with myself. I would recommend a break from social media to anyone who is addicted to it, has procrastination issues, or is just really overwhelmed by being plugged into what everyone else is doing and thinks. I watched Ferris Buller’s Day Off with my family this weekend, and, even though he’s skipping school, he’s a really smart kid. Street smart that is. One of the most memorable quotes from the entire movie would be “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.”

From now on I’m going to make sure I look around because it would truly be a shame if I missed out on the gift of life for the transitory “gifts” of knowing all the photos my thousands of “friends” posted.


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