So, I’ve spent 3 whole weeks without social media. Yes, I know that isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things but on a personal level, it kinda was. I was on quite a few social media platforms and active on them a lot of the time.
This year I wanted to challenge myself for lent and having failed to give up chocolate for the past 3 years and deciding not to fail another time, I tried a different tact.
Just to be clear, I have deleted all the apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and LinkedIn) and got rid of the tabs from my internet browser. So far I haven’t broken my lent at all.
WhatsApp – some people would view this social media and the same kind of thing as Facebook Messenger. In my opinion it’s just an wifi/data version of texting that’s the best platform for group messaging so I’ve kept WhatsApp.
Here’s what I’ve learnt so far, split into the good and the bad.
Let’s get the negative points over and done with:
- I often wasn’t using social media because I wanted to enjoy it, it was just a habit. I found myself in the first few days picking up my phone and going to go straight on the apps, before realising they weren’t there anymore. Then I realised I wasn’t going on them for any reason, just as a habitual thing!
- Social Media gives you a glorified sense of popularity. That sounds incredibly harsh and also quite obvious but this is what I mean. I’ve had a lot less contact with people than I would have done, a lot of relationships are quietly held together by still seeing someone on social media, even if you haven’t seen or spoken to them in ages and it takes a few days to realise that just because someone makes an effort to comment on your stuff on social media, doesn’t mean they’ll make the effort to reach out to you when you’re not handing them your ‘life news’ for want of a better phrase to them on a plate. This is both a negative has a positive, more about the positive side of that later. To start with though, the lack of social media and the glorified popularity does make you feel a bit deflated.
- I’ve become reliant on it for finding out everything. I’ve realised that apart from listening to the news at work, all other news information was coming to me via social media where, as we’re all too aware, things aren’t always accurate. I’m not saying that any other media channels are accurate or unbiased, but checking the news app for info about the recent snow chaos first instead of Twitter is probably a better way to do things…
- It makes me lazy on keeping up your relationships. On the flip side to the glorified popularity, you also realise that you’re doing the same to other people and that you also need to make more effort to keep up the relationships too. Granted, if it’s not reciprocated then you can feel as miffed as you like, but at least the effort was there, right?!
- I miss the good parts like seeing people’s happy news and pretty photos. Although you don’t really speak with all the people you went to school with, it doesn’t mean you don’t wish them well and not seeing the happy things distant friends as announcing is sad. When you find out about them from your friends afterwards you do feel a little bit like it would have been nice to see it.
- There are some big events I missed not being able to join in conversations about. Such as the snowy weather this week and big tv/awards/sports events. I know it’s not the end of the world and I’ve chatted with people properly about them but it’s nice to be able to join in wider conversations about them and see what other peoples thoughts are.
- I’ve learnt who my friends are, and quickly. You realise who’s willing to reach out to you just for a chat, rather than because they need something. I guess that’s quite a hard-hearted way of looking at it, but it does make you realise and then grateful to the ones who made more effort to speak to you outside the world of social media.
- I have a lot more time to rediscover other things you like. My new fave way to relax? With Classical music and a good book. It’s been ages since I’ve read properly. I’d read a book from time to time, get hooked and then not pick another one up for weeks. I’ve pretty much been chain-reading books on my commute to and from work now which is a far more interesting way to spend my time than just scrolling through Instagram or Facebook.
- I realise what moments are truly worth sharing, I’ve thought to myself more than once ‘oh I’ll share this on [insert social media name here] in a minute, oh no wait…’ but it’s made me realise that most of the time you’re just talking rubbish for the moment and that it’s better just to share the really important stuff. I’ve missed this about photos most but even then, there are some photos that are important for a few minutes, but not that long.
- Time with friends and family has more quality to it because I’m properly catching up. Yes, I may well have been texting about things too because they’re not close by all the time but overall, I’m not telling people things only for them to have already seen it on social media, I’m having proper, quality catch ups.
- My phone battery lasts a lot longer each day… it was a really telling sign but it’s positive, probably mostly for the polar bears and penguins as I’m charing it less
- Within a day or so I realised that there’s a lot more to life and that I will be able to spend less time on there going forwards too. I like having the time and the quality of sharing stuff with my true friends and family in person back, I’m not going to lose that again.
So I’ve learnt a lot, some good, some bad but I think the break has done me a lot of good. It’s made me less reliant on social media for handing everything to me and made me realise what I’ve truly missed such as reading and quality conversation. We’ll see whether I manage to make the whole of lent but right now I’m pretty confident that I will be fine. I will come back to social media but I’ll hopefully appreciate it more and remember that less is most definitely more!
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