Starting at approximately 8pm Thursday, January 5th, 2017 , I decided to go on a social media detox. I had already deleted my Twitter account a few days before; even though I never used it, just knowing that it was gone felt great. Then I read this post on Break the Twitch which linked to a really interesting study from the Happiness Research Institute that showed people who didn't use Facebook for a week reported a significantly higher level of life satisfaction.
There is actual research* showing that NOT using Facebook makes you happier?! WHAT!
*I am one of those people that doesn't question the source of "research" so I'm really just assuming/hoping that this is a legitimate study.
The terms of my self-imposed detox:
I decided that I was only allowed to check social media ONCE A DAY. I didn't set a time limit for it; only the number of times per day I could check. (Because I feel like that's my problem- I check social media 100x per day for a few minutes each time. It's not long stretches, it's a million short stretches)
Day 1 was rough, because I learned that I have an automatic reflex that brings me to social media. Anytime something is hard and requires a lot of brainpower, I will automatically go to a browser and start typing "facebook" or "instagram". ITS LITERALLY AUTOMATIC.
(Mike and I recently started watching Parks and Rec [very late to the party, I know] so every time I use the word "literally" [which is very often] I picture it like this)
I ended up completely surprising myself by not wanting to check social media at ALL during Day 1. I fully expected to get home from work and want to sit down with my laptop to catch up on everything I missed… but when I got home, that’s exactly what I didn’t want to do. I just wanted to live my life without seeing what everyone else was doing. I really liked feeling... free? It's hard to explain, but I just felt completely content without hearing about anyone else's life updates. This feeling continued on Day 2 - no social media checking at all!!
In fact, it wasn't until Day 3 that I did go on social media! I checked Snapchats from my friends because we had been at a party the night before and I wanted to relive the evening through their snaps. However, once I was on there, I didn’t feel like checking anyone else’s snaps, which I would usually do. So that was a win.
An interesting fact that I learned around Day 3 or 4 is that Facebook is completely creepy and stalker-ish: They sent me EMAILS to let me know what my FB friends were posting about!! And I don't mean the emails where Facebook tells you that someone tagged you in a picture... No, they will actually send you an email to say "Jane Smith just posted a status update!" So even though that status update has nothing to do with ME- I wasn't mentioned in it or anything - Facebook just thinks that I’ve forgotten to check your feed and REALLY wanted to pull me back in.
Let me tell you - I turned those email notifications off SO fast it wasn't even funny. And yes, while I was in Facebook turning off the email settings, I did check my notifications to see what directly involved me. But that was IT! I didn’t scroll through my newsfeed at all. MAJOR win.
Also on Day 4, I had the sudden realization that I did not need Instagram in my life at all. I hadn't checked since Thursday night, and I missed out on exactly NOTHING. So I decided to delete it. I had Mike do it, because I still didn’t feel like I had enough willpower to open Instagram and NOT scroll through the feed one last time.
By the end of the week, I was down to just having my Facebook and Snapchat (technically I also have Pinterest, but I’ve never gotten addicted to that like I have any other social media, so I don’t count that) and only checked those a total of three times each for the whole week.
My overall feelings about this detox:
I do feel like I havemore time in my life by spending less time scrolling through social media. It wasn't a huge change, and I don't feel like, completely different, but I do think I feel a little happier with my life. I really think most of that is from just not having so many other people's voices in my head... gosh that is exhausting always scrolling through other people's thoughts!! I plan to keep this going as long as it keeps feeling good, checking in when I really want to, but staying away most of the time.
I have checked facebook a few times since the end of the detox, but usually I scroll through for a few seconds then close the window. Now that I detoxed from it, it just feels weird to be on Facebook for too long.
What did I learn?
I think the moral of the story is that I am absolutely, 100% addicted to social media, and the best way to break that habit for myself was to detox for a week and also to completely remove myself from certain channels that are detrimental to my life. This extreme of a method probably isn't necessary for everyone, but it worked for me!