I challenge you while reading this not to look at your phone or, if reading this on your phone, put it on airplane mode, just for the 6 minutes it’s going to take you to read this article.
After having a very interesting conversation with my friend about his two months away from social media I started working on my strategy to do the same. I decided to do this in the last two weeks in December, probably the two hottest weeks for social media use, because of Christmas and New Year’s. A very tempting time of the year, finding out what everyone is up to and what they got for Christmas, but also the best time to switch off and spend it with family and friends.
However, my self-restraint isn’t good enough to just stop myself logging on to Facebook and Instagram (I even do it subconsciously sometimes), so these are the steps I took:
- Deleted the apps from my phone
- Blocked the websites so that I
wouldn’t search them on my phone
- Blocked the websites so that I
wouldn’t search them on my laptop
- Turned off any email notifications
- Put my phone on airplane mode until
after I finish my morning routine,
usually just before I start work
Two weeks later…
That. Was. Hard. Well, the first week was. I am pretty sure I was experiencing withdrawals. I kept thinking of all the ways I could cheat to check my accounts, such as using my brother’s accounts to searching myself, but I held back and I’m glad I did, because by the end of the first week I was feeling rather blissful.
I found myself feeling less bored, as I actively sought out to fill my time with other pastimes, such as reading and writing. I would no longer go to my phone first thing in the morning, but instead I might reach over for my book and read for half an hour, rather than scroll through my news feed.
I found myself wanting for less because I didn’t have filtered social media images to compare myself too, to make me think about the things I didn’t have, rather than all the things I do have. At the start I felt like I was missing out, but the FOMO (feeling of missing out) soon went away and when I opened my Instagram account after the two weeks and had a quick look through I was so happy to not have been on it on New Year’s Eve. Everyone posted what they were doing that night and I think I would have felt left out somehow, but seeing it in retrospect I just enjoyed seeing that everyone had had a good time and I had too, partly by not checking my social media to see what everyone else was doing.
One last thing, and something I noticed more at the end of the two weeks: when I was in social situations I would very rarely pick up my phone. I wasn’t scrolling through my Instagram under the table when the conversation got boring. The conversation never did get boring because I was fully engaged and my brain wasn’t thinking about how I could best frame the coffees and cake on the table to look good on my Instagram story.
I have decided to limit my social media use to weekends only and never in the presence of friends and family. Because I do still enjoy looking at the pictures of some of the more artistic Instagramers and I do sometimes get creative ideas from looking at their posts, but I don’t need to see them every day, because that just becomes a waste of my time, brain power and focus.
So how often did you get distracted while reading this article and feel the urge to browse one of your social media accounts? Enough to think to yourself ‘I need to give this detox a go?’. Well here you have all the tools you need. If you need a wakeup call first though, to show you just of how much you use your phone use the Moment app, it is eye opening!