Social media is very much part of my daily life, both personally and professionally. As a social media amplifier, I literally need to use it every day for my work and my client projects. So why did I set myself a challenge to go 5 days without it? Especially given how ingrained it is in my world….
I remember a time without social media. When you didn’t post then wait to see how many people liked it. When we didn’t check our Instagram feed first thing after we woke up. When the only way to communicate with friends when going out was to organise it all before you left the house as there was no other way to communicate once you left. Remember the simplicity of those days? How you just lived your life away from prying eyes and you didn’t care how many likes it got…
We live in a voyeuristic world now. Social media created that. A world where we can watch what goes on in someone’s life by what they share on their social media feeds. We live vicariously through others.
And just like it has connected us, it has also disconnected us in the same way as we live our life through screens and not IRL (in real life).
So why did I set myself this challenge? Firstly, to see if I could go 5 days without any sort of social media. (I don’t want to count the number of times I pick up my phone each day to scroll through my various social feeds).
Secondly to see what impact it would have on my behaviour, my moods, my pysche. Would I feel anxious, like I’m missing out, disconnected to the world.
And finally, I wanted to get back to a world that wasn’t dictated by checking in on my phone. Would this change my habits after the detox and would it change me in any way?
I had to choose the timing carefully so as to not conflict with work or projects so the Xmas break seemed like a perfect time to do it. So, the day before Xmas Eve it was. I prepared a message for my friends and followers telling them what I was doing, and I would check in, in 5 days time.
Breathe, I could do this……
When I hit post that morning, I immediately felt anxious. What would I miss? What if someone messaged me? I wanted to know my friends thought of me doing this detox. Did they doubt that I would get to the end of 5 days or would they support me and eagerly await the results?
Straight away I wanted to check my phone ☎️ I knew the first 24 hours would be the hardest. I know how many times a day I pick up my phone and scroll through my social channels. I kept reminding myself that I survived 40 years without social media, I can manage a few days so get a grip girl!
I stayed busy all morning, occupying myself with tasks on my To Do list. It wasn’t until lunch when I sat down to watch a movie that I felt the need to look at my Facebook page. But I didn’t. I could see the notifications multiplying, those little red numbers growing and growing and telling me the world wanted to interact with me.
At this stage I mentioned it to hubby, who immediately reacted with “you won’t do it”. So much for having faith in his stubborn and determined wife!
The fact he didn’t think I could do was something I immediately wanted to jump onto Facebook and share too then remembered I wasn’t allowed. It felt oddly strange to have gone a full day without checking in, posting an update or seeing what my friends were doing. But I got through perfectly fine with minimal anxiety. Yeh I survived!
Xmas Eve – Day 2
Awaking on Day 2 I immediately pick up my phone to see those little red numbers had grown higher. Teasing me as if to say “I dare you to look”
By the end of Day 2, I’m feeling detached and disconnected with the world. I know my friends are celebrating Xmas and I want to see what they are doing and where they are. Social is how I get my news and how I stay connected with the world. I hate watching the depressing news. With social I can filter my world view. I really miss that today.
I feel disconnected to the world. I feel like I am missing out on all sorts of news that I am used to seeing.
Xmas Day – Day 3
Santa had come and whilst we clicked away taking photos on my phone, I realised I couldn’t post them with the world. I could however stay connected with my closest friends and family by simply sending them a text message. Easy! And although I wanted to see what everyone was doing to celebrate Xmas with their loved ones, I knew I could easily catch up with that when I ended my self-imposed challenge.
I also realised that what was driving my social media obsession was driven mainly by habit. That habitual clicking of the screen, scrolling through my feed and check in with the world… it as all habit. Just like smoking, it was habit to pick up the phone and click onto Facebook and it wasn’t a habit I realised I needed to have so many times in my day.
After all, if I want to instill real change, I need to break bad habits and this could be one of them. How much time am I spending on social each day (that isn’t work related)?
Boxing Day – Day 4
As I am starting to write this blog and think about how I am feeling about the experience to date, I realise that I enjoy being part of a community on social media. One thing I miss is being able to interact with a community of like-minded people, having conversations, sharing opinions, letting people into our world.
I talk in key notes and presentations about the importance of people in digital and one of the things I have missed so far is the connection to people. Social media allows that to happen. It allows me to connect with friends and family all over the world. It allows me to reach people in new groups and communities. It allows me to stay in touch and filter what I see and who I interact with. Nothing else can do that.
27th Dec – Day 5 (final day)
Although I miss my social interactions online, surprisingly, I have not craved them. I thought I would’ve struggled through this challenge with that old FOMO thing. But I am surprisingly calm and feeling really good about the fact I can survive without it for a short period of time. Mainly I am just looking forward to hearing about what is been going on in my friends worlds.
My world wont end. I might feel somewhat disconnected from my online family and I wondered if they missed me in any way, but my world didn’t end, nor would it.
I did it
I did it – I went 5 days without being on any sort of social media. So, what did learn?
Social media will always be part of my world partly due to it being a big part of my professional world, and partly because I like being connected to the world. But I also learnt that I don’t need to check it 20 times a day. I don’t need to check in and share everything I am doing, just because I can. I need to maintain balance and although it keeps me connected with people, I’d prefer to do that as much as I can in real life.
My 5 day detox actually made my appreciate my social media world and my interactions even more. This world gives me a voice to share my thoughts, my experience, my world. It allows me to connect with people I might not otherwise know. It allows me to find people, build new relationships, keep connected with friends new and old. And although people want to talk about social media in a negative way too often, I can see both the good and bad with it. But that is like anything in life – good and bad comes with all things and we need to understand and appreciate how to get the most out of it. We need to understand how to combine people and digital to create positive interactions as well as balance in a world where people and digital are as vitally important to each other.