A hiatus away from social media is worth it

Lavette Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Recently, I have made the decision to give up social media until further notice.

I am a creature of habit. So, like most, I had made social media a part of my daily routine.

Oftentimes, I would wake up to check my Instagram, to snap my Snapchat streaks, to scroll through Facebook before I would climb out of bed. I cannot tell you how many times I would look at my feed before I looked at myself in the mirror or how many times I would like a post before I decided that I liked my outfit of the day.

It became so much of my routine, so addicting that I felt myself becoming a zombie – oblivious to the rest of the world around me. It had got almost to a point where I was sleepwalking in life.  

But lately, I have been trying to wake up.

 I have been trying to push myself to break my usual patterns, to step outside my bubble, to invite discomfort, to live with eyes up instead of down at my phone. And for the first time in a long time, I stared up from the gadget in my hands and saw the horizon.

A new friend had inspired me to do so. At one of our weekly meet-ups, we found ourselves grabbing lunch at Rivertown and discussing coping mechanisms and ways to heal. They mentioned that a hiatus away from social media was helping them during this process.

At first, I was skeptical.  As a journalist, social media plays such a huge role in my career. It was how I networked, how I found stories and sometimes, it was how I gathered information about a source. There was also the millennial in me that did not know a day without a cellphone.

Then, there was a part of me that wondered: how did people before the invention of cellphones live?  

I genuinely wanted to know. I wanted to know what it was like to live without the need to share my experience with everyone I followed. I wanted to know what it was like to live in the moment, to live outside a camera. I wanted to know what it was like to exist without holding back, without trying to be what society deemed as perfection.

And so, I did it.

Minutes after an hour-long chat with my new friend, I deleted all of the social media apps – Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter – from my iPhone with shaky confidence. I had developed the mindset that if they could do it, so could I.

I will admit that it was hard, like giving up an unhealthy habit. I did not realize that social media had held such a significant power over me, and that in deleting it, I would feel withdrawals. There were little things that I did not realize I did, like reaching for my phone in a quiet room or to escape small talk with a stranger.

I remember being at an event on campus, watching my peers Snapchat their experience and feeling left out. I remember hanging out with friends and noticing how distracted they were by their phones. There were days when I wanted to cave in. I wanted to see what I had missed out on. I wanted to feel included.

Still, I persevered.

Now, it has been three weeks since I have been without social media. I know, I know. It does not sound like a very long time, but I believe that it is something to be proud of. It’s a start.

Already, I can see the benefits in detaching myself. I find myself more aware of my surroundings, more vigilant. I find myself more willing to try new things. I find myself more mentally and emotionally available.

It is the break that I did not realize that I needed.