On the 4th January 2016 I decided to quit Facebook until the end of the month. Here´s what I noticed and how I feel now having logged back on…

I got a hella lot done

This was something I had predicted would happen, but thought it would pan out in a different way. I imagined that quitting one Social Media outlet would lead to more usage of the others as I kept my Instagram and Twitter accounts active. Surprisingly (apart from the first day or so) I didn’t use them much more at all. As the two serve a more uniform purpose (Instagram displays mostly visual information, Twitter very concise updates), there was no way to justify spending hours one afternoon browsing their feeds.

So instead of aimlessly scrolling down a news feed all afternoon, I  quit procrastinating and started DOING things. I spent much more time making dinner, organising my schedule, planning private classes, reading, etc. Ideas that I had put off for months (such as illustrating post cards for my hostel) I finally got up and did. If only I'd done this during my university finals...

I spoke to my friends more

Before I deactivated, I made whatsapp groups with some of my closest friends. Although we´ve had a group going for years on FB messenger, we could go months without talking as – let´s face it – the messenger app is super annoying. Through whatsapp we´d talk consistently every day just like we would if we were at home. More over, as I could no longer see what they were up to via status updates and photo uploads, I started engaging in conversation more regularly because if I wanted to know how they were doing, I had to ask them directly instead of making assumptions based on their activity.

I had a wake-up call 

I noted in my last post that I was a bit bothered when only one friend stepped forward to ask for my contact details after I posted a status to say I´d be offline for the following month. It was a strange feeling not having the means to talk to friends back home, but what was interesting to me was who was remained on my mind without the daily social media bombardment. There were certain people who stuck out more than others, and I interpreted that as there were certain people who mattered to me more, and I should be making more of an effort to keep in touch with them, regardless of whether or not they had been trying to do so with me.

I felt at peace with myself

The Happiness institute found that people felt happier after giving up Facebook for a week, something they believed to be because people have a tendency to negatively compare themselves to others whilst browsing the positivity filled news feed. Everything was out of sight, and out of mind, and I didn´t have anyone else to think about except myself and the people I came in contact with on a day to day basis.

I don´t think this was the only factor, however, that lead to me feeling better. I love being busy, and crossing so many things off my to-do list was certainly therapeutic too. It should also be noted that I was working 4 jobs, had joined the gym, and moved into a much better suited apartment. Deactivating Facebook can´t have been the magic wand that solved all my problems at once, but it did solve all the those that I had hoped it would. I kicked my nosey habits and let go of parts of my past that were still bothering me as a result. I also learnt that I really didn´t need it, and any craving to keep updated on what my peers were doing was an empty gesture that wasn´t benefiting me in any way.

Reluctantly, I signed back in

By the time February came around, I had mixed feelings about whether I wanted to reactivate at all. I was leaning heavily towards not doing so, but figured if I were to go offline permanently I would have to make to get in touch with friends and family and exchange other means of contact.

And as soon as did, I immediately wanted to log back off. The sudden bombardment of information made me feel anxious, so much so I signed out immediately and didn’t peek back on for 2 days. My desire to see what people were up to had diminished and I was very pleased about it. I also noticed how full of rubbish my news feed was which, for someone who loved to contribute to that mess, was a real eye-opener…

In the end

I have decided to keep it for those ´just in case´moments. I felt at peace not being swamped by social media updates, and I am very pleased to being making gains in my free time instead of staring at my news feed and comparing my achievement to others.  I was able to realise how empty it was, whereas prior I was of the belief that it was a necessary accessory to socialising and networking for our generation.

But, just as I came to terms with the fact not all friendships are made to last, I also figured that just because we´re not close now, does not mean all my relationships must come to a dramatic end. I contacted a few individuals to ask for Whatsapp, and not all of those whom I did ask seemed bothered about keeping up the conversation, which was A-okay. I used to take how often a person would message me as a sign for how much they cared, but now I know that doesn’t mean eff all. The important thing is that people are there for you when you need them, and you are there for them, and that is what I didn’t want to put an end to.

For now, I have kept the App deleted off my phone and am making a conscious effort to ask for people’s numbers before their Facebook. I reactivated over 3 weeks ago and haven’t yet lapsed into old habits, and have only been checking my profile once a day. I’ve remained productive, and have also reconnected with some old faces I’d been missing. I think it’s ridiculous that I had to go to such lengths just to learn these simple lessons, but I’m really glad that I did and I’d highly recommend the experience.


Have you ever tried a Social Media Detox? Tell me about it in the comments below!

 

– MW

 

Published by Megan Wright