There’s nothing social about social media. After spending hours of my day scrolling through my Instagram, I decided to quit for a month. Now it’s been five months and counting.
American millennials spend more than three and a half hours on their phones every day — most of it on social media. But rather than bringing benefits into one’s life, it can create a myriad of mental health issues. Several studies have shown social media is responsible for aggravating mental health problems.
Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other apps are often used as a form of escapism that over time triggers anxiety, frustration, sadness, and lower self-esteem. When I became aware of the problems that daily use of Instagram brought to my life, I’ve decided to quit “cold turkey.”
Before quitting Instagram, I’ve done a few digital detoxes here and there but nothing longer than a week. At that time, I really wanted to spend at least a whole month without checking my Instagram, but I needed more motivation to do that.
The first one was a podcast episode, in which I was first introduced to the concept of digital minimalism. Cal Newport is a computer science professor and writer who never had a single social media account in his entire life.
So, that was it for me. I was done with this whole social media thing — then, a few months later, Netflix released a documentary called The Social Dilemma that examines the various ways networking companies have manipulated human psychology for their own benefits.
I didn’t think twice after knowing all of this, I made my decision. I quit social media for 30 days. It was quite hard in the first few days because I didn’t know how to fill in those moments that I was no longer scrolling through my timeline.
So I noticed myself spending more time on What’s App and YouTube. My goal wasn’t only to quit Instagram; it was to disconnect from my phone a bit, be more productive, and do things beneficial for me and my day. This means, if I’m still spending hours checking my phone, it doesn’t matter with each app, I’m still wasting my time.
I needed to stay away from my phone — for instance, if I’m in the bedroom, I’d leave it in the living room — and fill my time with other activities such as reading, listening to music, or working on a personal project.
After a week, I didn’t miss Instagram at all. A week became a month, then two, and now it’s been five months, and even though I still have my account active (because of work), I haven’t checked, posted, or downloaded the app on my phone since then.
Yeah, you might be thinking, “how can you do that?” or “you’re missing so many things” I’m actually not. I learned how to deal with my FOMO and to be honest, I don’t miss seeing my friends posting what they ate for lunch or getting lost in 10-morning quotes that motivate me only for the first 10 seconds. I’m happier reading my books, learning new recipes, and going for walks on the beachside.