Truth: the only reason I created a Facebook account was because I enrolled in a culinary nutrition program and participating in their Facebook Group was a requirement. Today, I exclusively use Facebook (and Twitter) for work. I find both platforms to be too cluttered and annoying to navigate in any kind of meaningful way. Instagram though? That’s my time suck.
When Aaron and I got rid of cable a handful of years ago, I all but stopped watching bad reality TV, with the exception being when I’m using a cardio machine at the gym (then it’s a necessity, ha!). My life was certainly not any worse for it. Slowly though, I’ve noticed Instagram Stories has taken the place of reality TV and if I’m not mindful, I’m prone to mindlessly getting caught up in the often very mundane details of someone else’s day. A few minutes while I get ready for the day, 20 minutes while I eat lunch—it can easily become an impulse to check my phone every free moment, which takes me out of the present and simultaneously makes me feel inadequate when it comes to my own life (why isn’t my home cleaner and more curated? why doesn’t my skin look as glow-y? Answer to that last one: filters). Everything about Instagram (and Facebook) is designed to be addictive and difficult to self-moderate.
So, the last time I felt myself going down an unproductive social media rabbit hole, I decided to do a ten day digital detox. I deleted the apps from my phone, I stocked up on reading material to take their place (like, actual physical books!), and I made the most of airplane mode.
The first two days were rough. Not so much because I missed seeing what other people were up to, but more that it was a physical impulse to reach for my phone. Thankfully, that phase passed surprisingly quickly and by day three I was reading more, I felt calmer, and I even realized I could scale back on checking my email to a few times a day, with a hard stop at 6pm (instead of checking “one last time” before bed and then sabotaging my sleep quality). As the days progressed I started listening to more music, which made me even happier, and by day ten I honestly didn’t miss Instagram at all! For a medium that was taking up an hour plus of my time every single day, this was a revelation.
Of course, my reality is that I do have to be on social media for work, whether that’s promoting my own content or content I’ve created for a client. And I enjoy it…in small doses. At its best, it can be a powerful source of inspiration and a way to connect with people all over the world.
After my ten day detox, I implemented some very concrete boundaries for myself, like only checking social media 1-2 times per day, unfollowing certain accounts that weren’t doing my self-esteem any favors, and once a week checking in with a very select group of people who inspire me. It’s finally started to feel like a healthy balance to me.
How about you? Do you find it helpful to define social media boundaries or do the occasional digital detox?
Photo by Sandrachile.