The irony of you reading this article right now is that you are probably
reading it in between checking your Instagram and your Facebook, or coming back
to it after checking out a 10-second-Snap that you’ve just been sent. 

This brief interview is inspired by talking
to a friend who stopped using his social media accounts – Facebook, Instagram
and Snapchat, deleting them all from his phone and blocking this access from
his laptop for two months. I found the conversation very thought provoking and
I would like to share it with you. Enjoy.

My first question to him is the obvious one – why?

“It came about through my development of self-awareness
over the last year and consciously thinking about the things that I do that
make me happy or bring meaning to my life. Think about it, does Instagram bring
you joy when you go on it? No. I bet you’ve never thought ‘I’m going to go on
Instagram to get a happiness boost’. Especially Instagram, being so visual,
whatever is on Instagram is always going to be better than what you are doing
in the moment, which is scrolling through your phone”.

Did you feel more engaged with the present,
with what you were doing now, and did you get less distracted and focus better
on the task at hand?

“I definitely felt I was more engaged with
current political and social issues, especially being mainly an Instagram user.
That definitely got me out of touch with reality. In fact, it gave me a warped
reality, whereas without it, I felt I was living in the real world, not my made
up real”

Did you ever feel you were missing out, not
knowing what your friends were up to?

“No, I didn’t miss it. It made me realise how
little we share with individual people any more, it’s more about letting
everyone know. I’d much rather be told about it directly than being just one of
the hundreds of people that have looked at what that person had for breakfast
today. I much prefer sharing my experience with a select few. We use Facebook
and Instagram as platforms to show what material purchases or experiences
contribute to who we are, but by posting these identifiers, we are asking for
acknowledgment: “Likes” that confirm that the person we are is correct. It makes us question our identities based on
how many likes we get”.

How do you feel now that you have started
using these platforms again, have you gone back to your old habits yet?

“It’s been about a month since I unblocked
the websites and I still don’t keep the Facebook and Instagram apps on my phone,
so I think I can say that for now I haven’t gone back to old ways. I do still
use Snapchat occasionally, but I never post stories, only send direct messages,
just like I would on Messenger or WhatsApp. I also think that it has helped me
re-set my reality and my expectations for reality, and they may not be as
glamorous as the filtered and posed versions of reality you see on social
media, but they are realistic. Having this refreshed mind set I feel less
mentally and emotionally vulnerable to what I see online, a big positive for my
mental health!”

Having this conversation has motivated me to
give this detox a go. Find out how I went about it here.