Now I know the whole, ‘stop using social media challenge’ has been around for a while but personally, I have never tried it. The simple reason for this being that I didn’t want to. I was aware of how much time I was spending on social media but I honestly didn’t care because it was a lot more interesting than my actual life.
Over the last few years, I’ve had a pretty steady relationship with social media. While I was studying at university I started this blog and took a major in social media management. So being on social media seemed to be a pretty positive thing. It was practically homework. After I graduated from university, I wanted to go on to be a social media manager, so I kept up my constant scrolling. It wasn’t until around July last year that I started seeing the negative impacts. To put it bluntly, I crashed.
I hated my day job, it wasn’t what I spent 3 years studying to do and it wasn’t worth putting the massive student debt over my head. I would scroll through social media seeing all these people with their perfect lives and then I would see people I went to high school with. Some of them were married, had kids, owned their own house. And here I was, stuck in a job I hated, living with my parents with a forgotten notion of one day writing for a living. I crashed. What was the point? I stopped blogging, stopped writing altogether but the social media addiction remained, dragging me deeper and deeper into a dark void of self-pity. Why couldn’t my life be more picture perfect?
I don’t know what exactly clicked, but something in my head switched after my night of hell coming down of an antidepressant rollercoaster. (See post here). I had a new job, a new look on life and I wanted to go into the new year with a goal of improving myself and my life. I looked at all my social media accounts, the apps I scroll through religiously every day. What did I gain from these? I started by going through each of my accounts, deleting people or influencers I no longer connected with or wanted to see. There were a lot. By clearing my space I had cleaned my phone of some of the negativity. But it wasn’t enough.
Ironically, it was Brexit that made my final decision for me. For those of you not in the know, Brexit is the UK’s version of Donald Trump. Some people want it, most don’t but it’s happening and it is tearing the country apart while the world looks on, saying ‘what the hell were they thinking?’ I was so tired of people fighting over Brexit (and so many other things) on Facebook, I was tired of all the political drama. So I deleted the app.
For a few moments after clicking delete I sat there thinking…what have I done? The app had been active so long I wasn’t even sure if I still remembered my password. Maybe if I reinstall it quickly, it won’t lock me out. But I didn’t. Do I really need it, I asked myself. I listed all the things I used Facebook for and for each one I had a response.
I talk to my friends – No you send them memes, you’ll live. Call them.
I keep up with old school friends – No you stalk them to compare yourself to them.
I follow influencers – No you don’t, you watch their videos and Instagrams.
Articles – Clickbait
Family members – You live with the ones you care about.
Finally, I ran out of excuses. Fine. No more Facebook.
I wouldn’t say the first week was hard, per se…it was eye-opening. Without Facebook to mindlessly scroll through I literally found myself at a loss for things to do. Since purging my Instagram, I was following a lot fewer people which meant after about 5 minutes I had caught up on all their recent pictures. The thing with Facebook is that it really is endless and you can (and people do) spend hours scrolling. So I actually started writing during my lunch break, whether it be a random poem, planning a blog post or a chapter for my novel or editing pages. I suddenly found a spare half hour in my workday to do something I enjoyed and it also gave my eyes a break from looking at a screen.
By the second week I had started reading again! When I came home from work I was no longer able to ‘quickly check my phone’ to suddenly find hours had passed. Instead, I started making myself a cup of tea and sitting down with a book. Something I hadn’t really done since my Uni days because I didn’t feel I had the time or energy! I have read nearly three books this month!
In week three, people started to notice that I wasn’t on Facebook. My blog posts were being published on there, but I wasn’t responding to comments or tagging people in memes. When they asked me about it and I told them I had deleted the app, I actually felt a little rush of pride. It was interesting to see how angry some people got with me when I explained my reasoning. As though, my not wanting to view what they were posting was a personal insult to them. And it actually felt pretty good in those moments, I felt like I had escaped from some sort of lair of the lotus. While they were sat with their heads down over their phone screens, I was getting myself back on track to chase my dreams. Throughout this month I’ve started writing again (obviously, you’re reading this). I won’t say that is entirely down to getting rid of Facebook, but this factor has certainly helped.
Now it is the end of week four and I can honestly say I do not miss using Facebook in the slightest. Even today, when I have been home sick with the flu, I have been listening to audio books, writing and just sitting and being mindful – all of which far more healing and soul-nurturing than reading Gary from my Year 9 English class’s opinion on how Brexit should be handled, or how much Brenda from down the road hates the fact the bins are collected on a Thursday now and not a Monday (names are changed, but both genuine posts I’ve seen in the past on my feed). I’ve realised that I don’t need it in my life.
I don’t think it’s possible to cut down on Facebook use. The app is too easy to use, too addictive. You get lost in the sheer quantity of meaningless content. The only way to break away from the hamster wheel of clickbait and trolls that make up the majority of the Facebook community is to cut yourself off cold turkey. Just get rid of it. Remove the temptation from your phone, after a few days you won’t even find your fingers reaching for it.
To conclude, it has been just over a month since I stopped using Facebook, I told myself if I missed it too much after a month I would reinstall the app but honestly, I don’t. So Facebook is going to stay off my phone. If you follow my page on Facebook you may be a little confused as my posts are published on there every week. But I have an automatic link from WordPress to Facebook, so it doesn’t require me to actually go on Facebook to share them, the same can be said for Twitter which I have also stopped using.
If you’re looking for a way to cleanse a bit of negativity from your life, I highly recommend giving this a go for yourself, even if it is just for a week. You never know what a difference it could make.