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I Deleted Social Media Off My Phone for 7 Months



 

Why I deleted Instagram and Facebook for so long and how I plan to use the apps moving forward.

 

I’ve been struggling with my relationship to social media for the last several years. When I say social media, I mainly mean Instagram and Facebook. On one hand, it’s brought me incredible opportunities. I’ve been able to use it as a platform to showcase my skills, like a public, virtual journal or resume, which has led me to connections, jobs, clients, and opportunities I wouldn’t have been able to have otherwise. I’ve made lasting friendships with people who have similar specific interests as me, something I hadn’t been able to find at such specificity as easily in my immediate community. It made entrepreneurship somewhat less of a lonely experience. It’s also opened my eyes to some subjects I wouldn’t have known existed otherwise.


Outside of the business realm, living 2,800 miles away from where I grew up, it’s allowed me to still have some sense of belonging with friends and family from home. I can see pictures of loved one’s little one’s, human and fur, but opening a button on my phone. It’s allowed me to find some sort of common ground with loved one’s who I don’t live near. And the joy — the internet really gives me a chuckle sometimes with its meme’s and videos.


But for me, there’s a dark side.


Addiction — there’s a level of addition to social media that I’m aware of. I notice I’ll grab my phone mindlessly throughout the day during those in-between moments. Each new day if I hold off on grabbing for my phone and scrolling, the temptation stays at bay. As soon as I pick my phone up and start the scroll, I’ll continually grab for my phone robotically, over and over. I’ve learned it can be a stimulus for needing a break when really what I need is something else — a walk away from my computer, a moment to write, a drink of water, a breath of fresh air, etc. I find my usage is higher when I’m more in my head and social media provides a way to dissociate, avoid, and pass the time when what I really need is to get clear on what’s going on in my head or self soothe in a healthier way. There’s a whole other conversation around these social media apps having psychologists on staff whose job it is to find more ways to get the user (you) addicted. For more information, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alder is a really interesting listen or read and The Social Dilemma on Netflix is an eye opening watch. When I’m consistently using social media apps, I find myself being drawn in to a level of addiction I’m not comfortable with.



Time — from the addiction, I’ve discovered an internal guilt complex on what a time suck it can become. When I only had the pleasure of checking social media on my computer browser verse my phone, I found I got a lot more done. I read more than I had in years, I caught up with friends and family in a genuine way quite a bit more instead of feeling like I “knew” what was going on in their life by their social media highlight reel, my connection to self grew deeper and deeper when I didn’t have the convenient distraction of social media -- I’ve had little excuse but to dive deep into my own shadow and have found a lot of joy in doing so.


Loss of focus - I find on the days I’m aimlessly scrolling a bit more my attention span is just awful. My mind can’t focus for more than a few minutes on something. My brain feels exhausted even before I’ve done any sort of mental or physical lift for the day. Quieting my mind is always a little difficult and the day’s I’m scrolling mindlessly it’s a heck of a lot more challenging. The months I truly stayed off social media in its entirety both phone and computer, my focus was a lot better and I tended to tap into JOY a lot easier.


Opinions + Intuition - Speaking of tapping into joy, probably the most important of reflections and a reason I kept social media off my phone for so long, especially through the last of the big US election in November was my intuition was starting to cloud. I would find myself logging into Instagram and one of the first things I’d see was a really intense opinion about [insert political candidate, shitty event, or policy here] and it would make me feel like I needed to believe that exact thing too before I even had done any sort of research myself. It really started to get confusing and I would walk out of the metaphorical Instagram door feeling depleted, defeated, more confused than ever and worse, pretty darn down not just about the state of the world but about myself. It wasn’t just political posts, either. I found myself feeling this way with business coaches I followed, psychology and self-healing posts, and new information around health and wellness. Like if I didn’t believe this one specific thing or do things a certain way, I was a “shit person” and shouldn’t have a voice. I’d read this before even knowing my own opinion on said subject. While social media is a wonderful platform for anyone to voice their opinions or a quick way to present bits of information and a great way to get word out quickly, I personally was in a place where I needed to reassess my own boundaries. I wanted to make sure I understood how I felt about a subject before being convinced by Sally Sue I needed to feel a certain way to exist in their bubble and I wanted to make sure I knew the whole story instead of just the informational headline, which most of the time Instagram and Facebook isn’t showing the whole story, just a snippet.

 

Over the last several years I’ve deleted Instagram and Facebook from my phone off and on but only for a few days at a time. I would do this if I noticed I was scrolling a bit too much and really just needed a reset. This time around I really didn’t intend for it to be for so long. I had deleted it as I was packing and getting ready to travel back east to stay with my family for 5 weeks during the last of my mom’s radiation treatment. I had a lot to do and wanted to limit distractions, so off I went deleting Instagram and Facebook. By the time I arrived at my parents' place, I decided to keep it going throughout my trip. When I got back to California, I really enjoyed all of the extra mental space and time and thought I’d keep it off a bit longer as I studied for the NBHWC exam, and then I just kept it going.


I wasn’t totally off Instagram and Facebook that entire time. I would check each of them on my browser on my laptop, at least through most of it. While studying for the NBHWC exam, I had to be on Facebook to access the study group I was a part of. I would check Facebook for that reason, and Instagram sometimes to make sure I wasn’t missing any super important messages. This is how both platforms slowly started to creep back into my life.


At first it was every few days on my browser. Then it was once a day. Then a few times a day. Then eventually I’d log in on the Safari on my phone. Both slowly creeped back in my life, and I finally gave back in to at least downloading the Instagram app. I have yet to download Facebook, but I don’t tend to use it as much in general.


I will say I never totally got rid of the scrolling habit. I simply switched to other apps: I reignited my love for Pinterest, I started interacting with LinkedIn a lot more which is great for my career anyways, and I checked my bank account A LOT (lol). One day I’d love to totally kick the scrolling habit, but this time around even with Instagram and Facebook being replaced by other apps, I wasn’t scrolling for nearly as long and the other apps I checked with a lot more intention. Overall, neither of those three apps left me with the same feelings I was really getting from Instagram and Facebook.


I’m happy I’m back! By back I mean, I haven’t posted much of anything on WholisticBelly, but I’ve been interacting with the app on my personal account. I’m in the process of spring cleaning followers, both on my personal and business accounts. I tend to follow people on both accounts and that right there is a bit of a time suck. My interests have changed over the years as well, so I see cleaning out what I’m following with fresh eyes as a good practice to make space for what I really value and want to intentionally consume moving forward.


 

I haven’t come up with specific boundaries to follow for myself yet. I am trying to be more intentional about what time of day I start the scroll and how long I’m on there for. If I notice it’s a bit too much, I’ll go back to deleting it to refresh for a few days.


As far as posting and how often you’ll hear from me on Wholistic Belly moving forward, that’s also something I haven’t figured out quite yet either. I know it won’t be like it was a few years ago where I was posting and storying all the time. I’d like to share only when I have something of substance to share, rather than posting just to stay relevant and at the top of your feed. I do see myself shifting back to more newsletter, blog writing, and videos and maybe not using Instagram as the primary platform I share on, but I don’t have all of the details worked out just yet. All I know is that I’d like to make sure my intuition is remaining unclouded and that living my life IRL remains more important than “doing it for the ‘gram” or posting just to keep up with the algorithm.


I’m curious -- how are you feeling about social media these days? What platforms are you using and how often are you on each? Where do you like you to interact with people and businesses most?

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