During this lockdown, my screen time has been crazy, with it being somewhere around nine and a half hours for almost the entire time. Crazy, right?
In this day and age, it’s normal to see people always looking down at their phones: answering messages, checking notifications, scrolling through social media. It’s just part of our everyday lives now.
I saw on Jess Conte’s Instagram (a youtuber, if you weren’t familiar) that she was doing a social media-free day. I know this isn’t a new concept by any means, but I thought it was a good idea considering we spend so much time on social media. I always thought this, but I would have loved to live in a time where there was no social media and no mobile phones, and the only way to live life and communicate was face-to-face, or over a wired phone, and you made the effort to go out and see people and do things and experience the world fully without thinking about what a great Instagram story that would make (absolutely guilty of this). However now, having grown up in this, I can’t imagine life any other way, and there’s so many benefits to social media, like connecting to those farther away, seeing what everyone’s up too, getting inspiration from others and messaging quicker.
So I tried the social media-free day. I personally only use Instagram, Snapchat and occasionally Facebook (if Whatsapp counts, then Whatsapp too). For this particular day, I stuck to just using the apps in which I message people with, because the point of this challenge for me was to see how it would be to not be surrounded by viral pictures and videos, and the likes and comments that come with it. So, I only used Whatsapp and the messaging feature in Snapchat (I avoided Snapchat stories and the ‘discover’ feature). I turned all my other social media notifications off.
I found that although I kept myself occupied by going on a walk, doing assignments and watching TV, I would find myself going to my phone and naturally gravitating towards the apps. I even found myself sitting down, opening my phone and tapping Instagram, almost out of habit, and quickly closing it once I realised what I was doing. I found it extremely tempting trying not to just watch the discover videos on Snapchat, as again, when I’m bored, I find myself looking to viral content to occupy myself instead of looking around me and doing something productive. It’s crazy how much social media has become part of our lives: it becomes routine to use our phones just to scroll through these apps. It consumes our lives, as much as I wish it didn’t.
As much as I think it’s refreshing to have days off from social media, I don’t believe in not having it around for a long time, as it has become a part of our lives: for better or for worse, that’s up to you. Social media has allowed us to connect with family, friends, new people and new concepts. It has created jobs, and has sparked many different diverse communities on different platforms. It has brought people together in a way that might not have been possible otherwise. It brings us news of the world quicker than ever before, allows us to campaign and speak our truths. It has created content that brings joy, laughter and inspiration in our everyday lives. However the dark side to social media can be pretty damaging: it creates false expectations, showcasing people only in their best light, not showing any negatives. It can be the platform of the spreading of negative comments and bullying, which can impact on a person’s life massively if they don’t have the right support around them. It can be the platform for fake news, and there’s a lot of it. But most importantly, it can take away from us looking up and at the world around us. The whole purpose of this day off was to hopefully see what I was missing out on, taking extra care to take in every detail of what’s around me, engage in every conversation to the fullest and find ways to occupy myself.
Social media is important and probably necessary in this era, but it is not the be all or end all. Take some time out of every day to be away from it all, even if it’s an hour, and engage yourself to the world outside of it – I think we don’t realise how much we’re actually on it. Use this post as a message to be more present in everyday life, as we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Just see what taking time away from social media does to your day, and let me know how you get on.
Stay safe and well x