If someone asked me, do you have an addictive personality? I’d probably say not at all. I am very fortunate to be someone that doesn’t really get addicted to stuff, I could always give or take smoking, sweets… my slight downfall might be a love for a can of Coke but I’ve got that totally under control… Anyways, I thought I was pretty immune to addictions. However, I hadn’t considered how addicted I am to my phone. Most people “these days” (that is such an old person phrase sorry but it’s accurate) have a mobile phone. They also use it a lot. I find that sometimes not having access to my phone aka no internet or something can really put me in a bad mood. Phone addict. A recent update on my phone now informs me how much I have used my phone during the week. This includes a breakdown of my time spent on certain apps per week… scary.
After this update I began thinking about a time when I gave up social media for a month. This was on my year abroad and I was having a hard time escaping homesickness and fomo from things happening at home and uni. It got to a point where I decided I needed a break. I deleted all my social media apps; Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Cold turkey. I remember, I was sat in the gym (yeah, I work out) and I just decided that was it. Let’s see how this goes…
My immediate feelings were that it felt like a weight had been lifted. Like I was free from notifications and scrolling. My two thumbs must have been having a secret party. I didn’t have a responsibility to keep updating or refreshing.
But, by the time I was walking home from the gym (did I mention I gym?) I began to get the itch. I wanted to check my phone. I kept unlocking it to stare blankly at my home page with nothing to browse. I’d close it again, open it again, stare blankly… again.
I think this routine went on honestly for about a week. I didn’t cave though. After a week I found myself getting my phone out much less. I think I had kind of broken out of the addiction. Or, at least the repetitive action that I had repeated for so many days, years of my life so far.
Once I got over this phase, I honestly did not miss it at all. I began to appreciate seeing things – with my eyes! Rather than whipping out my phone to capture it for Snapchat.
I found I also slept a lot better because I was a guilty one for checking my phone a lot in bed.
I think it also really helped my brain, not feeling like I was missing out. Not feeling dependent on my phone.
Overall, I’d say it was an excellent experiment with myself and one I want to embark on again. Initially, when I got my social media apps back, I found that I used them a lot less too.
Why it’s addictive
The only thing is… obviously social media is how everyone – including all your friends – interact and keep up with each other. We live in quite a bizarre generation. Communication is SO easy. A weird side effect of this is that people can get pretty pissed off with you if you don’t respond or speak often. I know I don’t need to speak to my friends every day and they know I still love them. I guess this is also because social media enables you to still keep up with their lives without being in direct contact. A side effect of deleting all my accounts was, it meant I didn’t have any information about what my friends were up to. This meant I obviously had to keep in more direct contact. It was actually quite weird though because people would say in conversation “oh did you see my story?” and I’d say no obviously I didn’t have the apps at that point. It was really interesting seeing how much we depend on our social media in this sense.
My advice is, if you do want to release yourself from social media for a bit, let people know. Make sure they have your phone number so you can call and text. Stay close to each other.
You may feel like you are going to miss out on so much, but you are really not. Social media is really not that special. It can also make you actually make less effort with people because you already know what they’ve been up to and so on. I’d say everyone should give it a go at some point. It really is liberating. I think more than I expected too. As a guilty phone addict, I just want to make sure I’m not missing out on my actual life by staring at other people’s on a screen all day. It is fun and I do enjoy it, but when I gave up social media for a month, I just really felt like I’d taken some social pressure off of myself that maybe I hadn’t recognised before.