home Opinion What a Social Media Cleanse Has Taught Me

What a Social Media Cleanse Has Taught Me

| Lili Blum | lblum20@dtechhs.org | September 25, 2019 |

After staying up way too late scrolling through meaningless content almost every night and my eyes getting fried by the blue light, for longer than I care to admit, I realized I had an unhealthy relationship with social media. 

Inspired by a few of my favorite YouTubers (ironic, I know), I decided to do a four-day social media cleanse to see how it would impact my life. Before starting, I knew I couldn’t throw away my phone completely (I had to stay in contact with my parents,) but I did delete my most addictive apps: Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. After the great deletion of 2019, the detox had begun. 

Photo by Lili Blum

The first day of my cleanse was a busy Sunday so I didn’t quite miss my apps that much. I did notice that I didn’t want to show up to dance practice even a few minutes early because I wouldn’t be able to go on Snapchat instead of talking to people. This was interesting because I consider myself an outgoing person that normally doesn’t have issues socializing. I ended up just sitting amongst my teammates in silence, waiting for practice to start. 

When I got home, I noticed a really strong urge to go on my phone when I sat down to work, which is still something I struggle with. Instead of going on my phone, I ate a cookie to somehow treat myself. I don’t quite understand why I feel the need to do this — I even went on my phone before writing this very article. 

Over the next two days, I was mildly bored so I asked my friends to update me on what was happening in the world and looked at Met Gala outfits on my Chromebook. I didn’t miss specific apps I had deleted, I just missed the entertainment they provided. 

By Wednesday, I was eager to come back to the internet. To be fair, I did cheat by watching YouTube on my personal computer, but I didn’t really feel guilty about it because self-control is not my strong suit, so I expected to cheat a little bit. That said, I really missed Snapchat and Instagram at this point. 

Without the distractions posed by my social media apps, I noticed that I was a lot more productive and less stressed. The time freed up by deleting these apps made me feel more in control over my time, which was very freeing. I slept more, felt better about myself, and was more on top of my game than I had ever been. 

One happy side effect of this cleanse was feeling mental clarity; it turns out that when your head isn’t filled with Snapchat news and Instagram posts, you have the capacity to think about how you really feel. This new-found emotional awareness proved to be very useful, as stress levels tend to spike leading up to the May 24th academic deadline. 

Although I appreciated the positives of going off social media, I re-downloaded my apps as soon as the cleanse was up. 

A lot of people seem to think that a world without social media would be a much calmer one. I definitely felt this during my cleanse. Being back on social media all of a sudden makes my life feel much more hectic than it really is. My social media usage almost skews my perception of my own reality, making it seem like I have an uncontrollable number of obligations. 

Having both taken part in social media-free life and one filled with it, the question arises: why do I still take part in it? My main reason is to stay updated in the world. When I say that, it sounds like I use the internet to read international news and to be informed about the world’s issues, but that is not at all the case. The world in which I am immersed when I open a social media app is one concerned with unachievable beauty standards, scandals, and mindless entertainment. Is that really what I want for myself? Why would I add another layer of stress and anxiety to my life just to know what Kim Kardashian is going to name her new baby? 

For now, I am fully back on the internet, and I don’t currently have the willpower to control my usage. Because of this, I am a lot more stressed out, and I still don’t change my habits, even after having had such a good cleanse experience. The next time you mindlessly reach for your phone, be aware of why you choose to be part of social media, and what value it adds to your life. And then be prepared to do absolutely nothing about it.

2 thoughts on “What a Social Media Cleanse Has Taught Me

  1. I don’t see how Youtube could be considered “social media”. The exact definition on Wikipedia lists online video platforms as a type of social media, which Youtube is one of, but it’s not as shallow in any right. Youtube creators can get very in-depth into subjects such as history, popular culture, and even the youtube community itself. These aren’t very shallow at all, and some of the creators whom I like to watch will sometimes make full-on documentaries. Take EmpLemon, for example, a former youtube-pooper who now makes videos on subjects from the history of LeafyIsHere on Youtube to the entire life of Dale Earnhart. Meanwhile, sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc, can barely let you express a brief opinion, let alone explain it. I think if someone were to do this again, Youtube should definitely not be banned during a social media cleanse, or at least many video types and genres should be included.

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