I hate to admit it, but I can spend hours throughout the day on my phone checking out my social media pages. I probably spend on average about 3 to 4 hours a day looking at Facebook and Instagram together — the likes on pictures of my kid are nice! But I've realized as my daughter grows older that these are not habits I want to impart to her, so I decided to quit social media for a week.
For me, being on my phone scrolling my feed and sharing pictures of our day is my idea of peace and quiet. A lot of people hate social media, but for me, it is my escape from daily struggles like bills, my daughter's homework, and my job. I am personally happy to share pieces of our lives online with friends and family (photos of my husband don't get as many likes, but that's OK!), but it is also true that before smartphones, we were all doing something else with our free time.
I'm aware that the reward system triggered when we see those likes can be addictive, and I know, of course, that living your life online is not the same as living it out loud. I am not going lie and say that I didn't spend a disgusting amount of time on social media before I started this experiment. I laid in bed and just spent hours refreshing my social media pages. It was blissful.
So what would a week look like without that distraction at the tip of my fingers? This Insta-mom decided to find out.
I planned to stay off all social media for one week and be more present with my friends and family. I would still be able to use my phone for calling, texting, checking my email, reading the news, and playing non-social media games, my favorite being Disney Emoji Blitz (I'm signed in as a guest so it is not connected to Facebook).
I was obviously not trying to win a Nobel Peace Prize, but my ultimate goal was to be able to show myself that I can do other things besides go on social media in order to enjoy myself. I wanted to spend more time with my daughter and play with her.
I was a little thrown off this morning. My routine consists of getting up early so I can browse through Facebook to see what is going on and what I missed while I slept.
I do have work to keep me occupied during my social hiatus, but given I work from home, my breaks typically consist of scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. Instead, I played a non-social media game on my phone and texted my husband.
I caught myself turning on my phone and almost instinctively pressing on the Facebook app. It made me realize it is truly a habit for me and needs to stopped or be cut down drastically.
I was feeling a little more detached from the world today. Generally, I have a pretty good idea of how my friends and family are doing from my previous day of browsing, just keeping tabs in a totally normal post-apocalyptic surveillance state kind of way. I was surprised by how easy it was for me to find something else to do in place of checking my social media accounts.
On Tuesdays, my daughter has hip hop class and I typically sit and scroll away on social media while she dances. The class is an hour and I did not want to stare at a white wall. Instead, I played games on my phone and chatted with the dance studio owner for a bit. After dance class, I ate dinner with my daughter without my phone. She had her tablet next to her (she didn't sign up for this!) but we were able to have a nice conversation about our day.
I told my friend I'm off social media and she asked how I am able to do it. I said I play a lot of Disney Emoji Blitz. I didn't swear off apps! My co-worker suggested some coloring apps to use — these are good for when I have me-time or am bored.
On Wednesday, my daughter has ballet class. Again, I usually rely on my cell phone to check out social media to eat up my spare time. I was content with using my color-by-numbers app.
I also ate dinner without my phone again. After dinner, my daughter and I listened to Disney songs. We sang along, and I feel like we truly enjoyed our time together.
I see social media usage as a form of enjoyment no different than a glass (or two or three) of wine.
I found that not being on social media was getting easier. I didn't click the apps on my phone (I kept them on to test myself), and felt more mindful of my cell phone usage and how much I relied on it.
Every other Thursday, my daughter has a Girl Scouts meeting. I spent the time in my car talking to my husband and then playing Disney Emoji Blitz. Usually, I would spend that whole time on Facebook. Progress!
The home stretch. As the days go by, I have felt better not relying on my phone for updates about what everyone is doing. I have been content with coloring, playing games, and reading the news when I have free time.
I went to dinner with my husband and had no desire to use my phone. We usually sit there and scroll through our phone while we wait for our food — just your usual romantic stuff. So, actually, it was nice enjoying our alone time.
The weekend is when I spend the most time on social media because usually we are doing laundry or just relaxing at home if we have no plans.
Luckily, the NFL playoffs were on so my husband, daughter, and I watched the games with our friends. The only thing I missed from social media was seeing people's reactions to the games. Womp.
The final day of the social media blackout. I am not going to lie, I was pretty excited to check out what I missed throughout the week after I fired up Facebook. But, I didn't feel as social media-deprived as I thought I would on the last day. I relaxed, just enjoyed time with my family, and watched TV.
This is truly a week I will remember. Boy, did I do a lot of coloring. It will be a week I rely on when I feel the need to take a break from it all and remember that I do not need to know what everyone is doing at all times.
This week off social media taught me to be more present and spend time with the people who I treasure the most. To take the time to be off my phone and enjoy a meal and actually speak with a person and look in their eyes instead of leaving an emotionless comment (😬).
My overall phone time went down by 22 percent (thanks Apple for the friendly usage reminders). I take that as a victory considering that 60 percent of social media use is on a mobile device. And I am proud of myself for sticking with it and not using social media at all for a week.
However, I noticed that I was replacing my bad habit — using social media — with another bad habit: playing a game on my phone. I needed something to constantly keep me occupied so I wasn't bored, much like a toddler. It's that anti-social part of me that I guess will always be there. I think I have been using social media for so long that I forgot to how to be engaged with others outside of a screen. It's going to take time for me to go back to how I used to be — calling up friends to hang out, reading more, and not worrying so much about what others may think of me based on a social media post.
I see social media usage as a form of enjoyment no different than a glass (or two or three) of wine or binge-watching a favorite TV show. These are all best in moderation. They are easily over-used and become unhealthy habits that take you away from reality. Going forward, I am going to start using social media as a form of enjoyment that should be used in moderation. I know it will still be hard, but color me an optimist, it might be the best month-late New Year's resolution I ever made.