Social media is not healthy, or at the very least the way I was using it was not. I became fed up with the amount of time I used it, as well as how I used it. I decided to leave my phone in my room at college for Thanksgiving break. No phone for five days. As I’m writing this, I’ve returned to college and decided to delete the following apps: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tinder, Bumble and Hinge. Before deciding to go on a complete phone detox, my mental health was suffering. Even though I was surrounding myself with quality people I started to feel stuck. I wished to take their best qualities and implement them in my life, however I was holding back for some reason. I couldn’t identify exactly what was “holding me back”.
I began to realize I had trouble getting through class without checking my phone at some point. My class was only an hour and fifteen minutes long. I wouldn’t just check once for the time, it was usually social media, more specifically Snapchat and Instagram.
It felt so overwhelming to constantly check and see who viewed my story and how quickly, or how many likes my post gets. I deleted an Instagram post because it didn’t get enough likes in the first 30 minutes. That’s how much value I put into my social media presence.
I stumbled across a TED Talk about social media and its impact on mental health. I got chills how scarily accurate the impacts were in relation to what I was experiencing. The way social media is designed is to be addictive and it clearly worked on me.
If you think about it when you post something on social media it’s usually for two reasons, either to show off or for attention. Every like, share, and view is a hit of dopamine. In other words, we are quantifying what others like and attributing that to our own self worth. That is TERRIBLE. It reinforces the idea of approval from others. I struggled with this mightily, I was a people pleaser and I didn’t know why. This is why. Of course, by nature we like to fit in, but you cannot base your entire personality off what others think. In fact, just five days deep into my phone detox I started to speak my mind. I put myself first rather than just go with the status quo. For example, my housemates were being loud and playing music in the living room shortly before I had a video chat with my therapist. I, unlike myself, went out and told them “I need you all to be quiet I’m gonna talk with my therapist.” It felt empowering to actually make a stand for myself even if it’s something small. Putting yourself first even if it means going against what others want from you is just one of several key lessons this detox taught me.
Another critical issue I had with social media is the short wired attention span you develop. I, and many of my peers, would constantly open Snapchat then Instagram, then Twitter then back to Snapchat. Sometimes I would close Instagram and open it right after! Well, it seems harmless right? Nope. When you constantly switch your focus on a particular subject it can have long term effects on your ability to stay present and concentrate. Think about it, if you always need something new stimulating you, your mind will adjust and therefore your attention span will be much much lower. Personally, I had trouble watching a movie without having an urge to check my phone. In fact it was nearly impossible for me to sit through a full movie.
Overall, social media is bad news. Right now I have no interest in re downloading any of those apps. I still text people but that’s it as far as communication via my phone, which is what I’ve wanted for awhile. Social media, ironically enough, makes us feel more isolated, depressed, anxious, and stressed the more you use it. I would urge everyone reading this to at least try a detox of some sort, either a complete phone detox or social media itself. I would venture to bet you will feel better sooner and the longer the detox the more mentally clear you’ll get.
Special Guest Post from Nourish Your Mind Client:
Sean Hughes – SUNY New Paltz Student
Interested in trying your own social media detox but need an accountability partner? Contact us today! (845) 547-0479 / NourishYourMind.com/Appointment