Social media cleanse offers changed perspective

You know those three-day social media cleanses professors give you extra credit for if you take them seriously? And then no one actually does them?

I defeated the challenge last weekend to give myself a “mental health” weekend.

Without a doubt, I became myself again.

I picked up a book, had hourslong conversations with family and cooked a four-course meal, all without the gratifying dings of social media or texts sucking me into the Internet’s vortex.

I was able to wake up without straining my eyes to see my friends’ famous “Texts From Last Night” or check the consistent pinging of who asked me to play Candy Crush on Facebook. Most of the time I spend on my phone is unnecessary, and I feel confident saying most of yours is, too.

As cheesy as it sounds, I felt free.

I understand, though, why handheld devices have become so popular. They are a direct connection to any person or place in the world, and have the ability to grace us with knowledge at the push of a button.

Emergencies arise, and cellphones are great assets to use in those situations, but I feel social media, texting, the Internet and other social platforms are being abused.

I visited Logan’s Roadhouse Sunday morning for lunch with my mother, and to my astonishment, every child in the vicinity had a cellphone or tablet in his or her hand. Parents willingly throw these devices at their children, I am sure, to quell their bad behavior and enjoy a nice, quiet meal.

What happened to the pinch and bathroom whipping I so readily received at that age?

I also attended a wedding shower where a lady brought her 13-month-old girl, who cried and pitched a fit whenever the cellphone was not handed her way.

These examples scared me.

As a soon-to-be media professional, my cellphone is a necessity. I will be required to tweet, upload content to Facebook and use other various social networks, if not run them entirely.

Believe me, I feel the instant gratification of 40 people liking my status about my new job or the “You’re so pretty!” comment that surfaces every now and then.

Do I need that to feel confident? No. But I fear others do.

Do what you want, but I challenge everyone to a social media cleanse. Post-cleanse, I made clearer choices, became more attentive and started focusing on myself instead of others for a change.

Social media in a world of social creatures is an innovative advancement. But to feel more like a person and less like a robot, drop the phone and pick up a real conversation for once.