For many modern day teens, five days without Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr or dating apps might be described as a type of hell. However, I undertook the challenge to see whether I could beat the stereotype often ascribed to young people. This being that we are addicted to our phones and unable to operate without constantly checking the many forms of social media. My success in this challenge shows that it is possible to disconnect from social media, even while having notifications turned on!
For me, social media is not a hugely important aspect of my life and so while the task was difficult, it was far from impossible. The urge to check social media was the greatest during the periods of time when I was waiting for something, such as waiting for a friend or waiting for a lecture to start. It was at these moments of boredom or awkwardness that I was most tempted to go on social media.
To fight the urge to do so, I read instead, or introduced myself to the person next to me, or even just concentrated on my own thoughts. This was an aspect of the challenge I really enjoyed and was a welcomed relief, instead of wasting my time scrolling through people’s pictures on Instagram.
I soon realised that when it came to using Facebook Messenger, I was going to have to make an exception when it came to sticking to the challenge.
I still had to use it to keep up with plans organised on group chats. In the modern age, and especially at university, it is difficult to avoid social media when it comes to socialising as all social events are advertised and often organised on Facebook. Even when you meet new people, phone numbers are rarely exchanged anymore – you add someone on Facebook instead.
To put it bluntly, if you don’t have social media, your ability to make friends is unfortunately restricted. This was made only clearer to me when I realised that disconnecting from Messenger was something that I was unable to do.
As the week progressed, I had become accustomed to staying off my phone in order to avoid the temptation of my thumb pressing on the Instagram app and this had led me to forget I even had dating apps. This was a nice reminder that when I wasn’t on them, I didn’t miss going on these dating apps and did not feel an absence in my daily life.
I noticed myself becoming happier not looking at what other people were doing all the time, being less jealous and more content with my own day-to-day happenings.
I started getting more notifications from the social media apps I wasn’t using. This was certainly a test of my self-control as the notifications were a great temptation. The notifications included events happening near me on Facebook or tweets that I may be be interested in.
Using these constant notifications, alongside favourable imagery such as bright colours, social media apps make it difficult for people not to get hooked on the apps and that was made clearer to me by how tough it was to resist checking in when the notifications did come flooding in.
Social media can bring positivity into people’s lives. Facebook helps people from all over the world come into and remain in contact and Instagram can show you the different experiences of your friends and is a great form of expression. Twitter can help people express emotions and thoughts and democratise the voices that can be heard in the public sphere.
However, the advent of social media in our daily lives can often lead to people underestimating how easy it is to forget to appreciate the little and real things in life that can go forgotten if you’re glued to your phone. If we’re all stuck staring at our phones, we may miss the person in the corner at a party we could instead be talking to. It may also take us longer to realise the detrimental effect constantly checking social media may be having on us.
Many people in our generation are not aware of how much they are addicted to social media and this challenge of five days of no social media is a great way of realising if and by how much social media is a part of our life and how that reliance can be shifted for more productive aims.
Image Credit: John Jones via toolstotal.com