My boyfriend and I decided to take a break, a break from social media. Inspired by hearing about others who did the unthinkable and quit social media ‘cold turkey’ for 30 days, we decided to give it a try.
Thirty days was a bit more than we thought we could handle to start, so we opted for a week. Seven days with no Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat. Which interestingly, rendered our phones quite useless after all of these apps were locked.
Our 1st challenge occurred three days into the week while at a Raptors game. I wanted to post a picture of us on Instagram. After a debate, we decided together that I could post it, but that I had to close the app right afterwards and not reopen it until the challenge was over. Five minutes later, we started to bicker about the caption on the picture. I could feel myself becoming agitated. I closed the app and while looking at one another we had the same realization. The first conflict we had since starting the challenge was when one of us started to engage with social media. Let that sit with you for a minute.
If I could describe the week in one word, it would be relief. It was a relief to learn that I could go into an experience without the pressure or expectation to share it with the world. I was relieved of the pressure to prove to someone else that I was having a good time. It was just the experience and I, and that was pretty great. We enjoyed the week so much that we continue to have time limits on our social media apps to this day and still hold each other accountable.
So many of us use these apps to express ourselves; to show the world what we love and to capture amazing memories. But ironically, the process and the pressure of capturing life’s special moments in order to share them with the world also distracts us from fully enjoying them. Moreover, our awareness of the “likes” we acquire along the way runs the risk of reinforcing a soul destroying premise: that our lives only matter if approved of by others. And then there is the automatic comparison to those who are always living a more fabulous life – a recipe for feeding the wide-spread belief most of us carry that whoever we are is not enough.
The week without social media was like finally taking a conscious deep breath and realizing just how much stress I had been carrying. We can certainly get by with shallow breathing throughout most of our days. But once we know what a deep breath feels like, well, we might decide to pay attention to the process we take for granted and consciously give ourselves more of what we really need. Which is not to live in the shallow, but to dive in, and really enjoy the deep.
I am a millennial and there is no denying that smartphones, technology, and specifically social media, have a huge influence on how I engage in the world. But I have redefined my relationship with it. Now I can see that the connections I want are all around me. For that, this was the best break I have ever had.
When was the last time you spent an extensive amount of time without social media? I invite you to try this same challenge and share your experience with us in the comments below. Or don’t comment and enjoy the experience for yourself.
Feeling grateful to have shared this with you,
Gabrielle Iwaskow, Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)
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