The notion of giving up social media pre-pandemic would have been daunting enough. Deciding to delete social media as the UK entered its third lockdown is very daunting and it is exactly what I decided to do as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Very few people could understand why I decided to delete Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram. But, in all honesty, I was terrified at how digital our lives had become, with no end in sight. From studying through to socialising, everything was happening through a screen in our bedrooms. The thought of spending any more hours scrolling became unbearable.
Perhaps it seems as though I’m now opposed to social media. However, that is not the case. I think it is powerful and can be a force for good. However, at the same time, it’s an addiction and can be used in the wrong way. After almost six months without using it, I have a clear idea of what I’ve learnt and how I want to use social media from now on:
You’re not isolating yourself
Yes, it can feel as though you are cutting yourself off from communication. Yes, it may feel that no one will talk to you, but that is not the case, at all. Ultimately, friendship is not defined by how many hours you spend texting each other a day.
Also, I realised that constant communication is not healthy. You will still talk to your friends and your conversations may be even better than before when you give yourself some breathing room. Many of us began going for walks with friends during the lockdown, we don’t need to revert to always texting now restrictions are lifting.
Eventually, you won’t miss scrolling
As the old saying goes, it takes 21 days to break a habit and, in this case, this was correct. For at least two weeks after I deleted social media, I found myself going to click on Instagram, without even thinking about it. It was a habit, rather than something I wanted to do.
However, gradually I found myself not even factoring Instagram into my mind and I felt a lot better for it. Social media is a highlights reel and it is far too easy to get caught up with the idea that everyone is having more fun than you, is prettier than you and just an all-around better person, but that’s not true.
Finally, it is quite refreshing not to check what everyone is up to, all day long. You may even find time to do things yourself!
Our phones can be used in lots of other ways, apart from social media
As I gave up social media, I started reading the news and listening to podcasts, far more frequently than I had been before. Rather than mindlessly scrolling, I was engaging my brain and learning.
Some could say, that in itself is an act of scrolling. I guess it is but I would argue there is a fine line between mindless scrolling and consciously scrolling.
Moderation is key
As is so often said about everything in life, moderation is key. This infamous saying can most certainly be applied to social media. It’s not good to do anything too much and it’s what I kept in mind, as I decided to reintroduce social media.
As a rule, I use Instagram on the weekends. I use twitter to follow and engage with articles and journalists. I don’t think I will use snapchat again, which surprised me because it was my favourite.
It’s really not that daunting
It sounds as though I’m contradicting what I said at the start of this article because of course deleting social media is daunting. However, you will quickly realise it’s not as bad as you think and I can vouch from my experience, that you will feel much better for it.
It’s the same as doing anything out of your comfort zone; there’s a moment of fear and dread but then you reap the rewards.
I am so glad I made the decision to delete my social media at the beginning of January because I have learnt a lot and I have a very clear idea about how I’m going to use social media from now on.
Lots of people say they want to delete social media, but the fear is holding them back. So, let me reassure you again, you will feel so much better for it and you probably will never go back to using social media in the same way again.
Words by Maggie John
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