When I was younger my mom used to make me take TV breaks. She’d come into the living room and shut off the TV and make me do something else for a few days. In fact, when I was really little, she would just unplug the TV and tell me it wasn’t working, which technically was not a lie. Of course, I’d be devastated because why would my mother (who said she loved me) take away my precious Dragon Tales and Clifford The Big Red Dog? How could I possibly live? She would then explain to me that my mind is precious and that I had to protect it at all costs. At first I would pout and be so mad about it, but after a day or two, I’d notice that I felt a lot better without it. I’d play with my dolls and play with friends outside, read, whatever! But I always had a good time.
This idea of keeping my mind clear and open has taken me into adulthood and I’m so glad that my mother did what she did. Now, any time that I feel overwhelmed and anxious, I know I have to make changes in my life. This time, it meant leaving Instagram for a while.
One morning a couple of weeks ago I woke up and thought to myself “I should delete Instagram.” Then of course I rolled over and grabbed my phone to open up Instagram. As soon as I did, I became aware of how I instantly was sucked into the craziness of it all and that made me realize why I had the thought to delete it. So I closed down the app and deleted it right then. And maaaaan, can I just say that those few weeks without it were ~*~*mAgICAL*~*~. Seriously though, I felt great. I should have done that ages ago.
I realized that Instagram had become a mostly negative experience for me. Along with many unhealthy social media habits, I’d use it to compare myself to others and judge myself harshly. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to that. Basically, I just got tired of being constantly anxious for no good reason. I don’t know a better way to explain this, but for some reason when I deleted the app I felt like I had more room to think. Instagram had become a kind of constant buzzing in my ear if you will. With that buzzing finally gone, I had a chance to actually hear myself think.
Once I got over my initial withdrawals, I started remembering all of my old hobbies which I had completely forgotten about. Things like playing chess, skateboarding, and drawing. I used to enjoy all of this so much and it’s been such a joy picking them back up again. Plus, the days seem longer now in a good way and I’m happier doing things that I once felt I didn’t have time for. That alone made the time away so rewarding.
I have since gone back on social media, but my attitude and habits towards it have changed significantly. I don’t actually care about it anymore. I enjoyed my time away from it so much and honestly, the only reason that I went back was so that I could keep up with the blog account. In the time I had away from it, I was reminded that my quality of life is not negatively impacted if I can’t show my friends my every move. In fact, the exact opposite is true. I felt better about myself when I wasn’t constantly thinking about whether or not I wanted to post something, what others were thinking about what I had posted, or what I thought about what others had posted.
I’d be willing to bet that for many of us social media feels like an absolute need. If you’re around my age, you probably grew up right around the time when social media really started to pick up speed. Now that we are adults, we really don’t remember our lives without it so the thought of letting it go even for a moment may be a bit scary.
What this experience has taught me is that life really does exist beyond your phone screen. Which might sound really dumb, because of course life exists outside of our phones.Think of it this way though, how many times have you heard or maybe even said yourself “Did it really happen if you didn’t post about it?”. Obviously, that’s a joke, but I think that a lot of us actually believe that subliminally. I know I did. I realize now that you have to be able to manage social media, not let it manage you. Nothing should have the power to make or break your self-esteem that quickly.
The amount of followers that you have do not equate to the amount of people who love and respect you, nor do the amount of likes, comments, subscribers, whatever. We are so much more complex than that and so are our lives. So please, take it easy on yourself and remember that using any kind of social media should be fun and informative above all else. So, the next time you’re feeling a little lost, consider unplugging for a while and see where it takes you. I guarantee that it won’t hurt!