I recently embarked on a 2 week social media cleanse. This is not a new, revolutionary concept; more and more people are taking time away from social media as it becomes intrinsically linked with our generation. I began every morning with the same routine before I was even fully awake; Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Timehop and occasionally Twitter or Pinterest depending on how much time I had before I needed to get up. If I had nothing planned for the day I would then circle back and repeat, checking for any new updates and if none were available I would take to the Instagram explore page and just start scrolling. Sometimes I would look at my watch and realise an hour had just passed and I had achieved absolutely nothing – I couldn’t even check a TV show off my ever growing mental list.
Again, although the order of apps may differ, I know I am not alone in this. We have become dependent on a range of social media pages and apps – I have even been known to cite something I’ve seen on one of these pages as news. I have been aware of my dependency on it for a while but seemed unable to cut back. It wasn’t until I changed my profile photo on Facebook and found myself unnecessarily disappointed with the number of likes that I knew enough was enough. There was no way I would be able to delete my accounts as I use them to stay in contact with family and friends but I knew I needed a break. After discussing it with my friends on a Saturday evening, I woke on Sunday morning feeling that yet again I was going to let it pass and continue as normal. However after lunch something seemed to click and I started deleting apps off my phone and my iPad and blocking the main offending sites on my laptop. I decided to keep WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in order to stay in contact with close friends and my sister and after restoring chrome to its basic settings on my phone – so that it wouldn’t remember my login details – it had begun.
Over the two weeks I wasn’t able to stay off completely and after the first week I logged back in to each to check on notifications and upload photos before logging out again and deleting the apps. Towards the end of the next week I began periodically logging in for 5 minute stints before logging back out again which is when I finally began to realise that I no longer felt the need to scroll for hours on end. Since finishing the cleanse I’ve placed limits on myself –not checking in the morning when I am likely to scroll and forget to do anything else with my day and only having the apps on one device. I’ve also managed to use the time I would normally spend scrolling for more productive things such as checking the actual news and reading more books.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s something everyone should do as not everyone was as reliant as I was but it definitely helped to cut it out completely for a while and has definitely made me feel happier and less reliant since.