At the beginning of 2017, I had finally convinced myself that it was time for me to permanently delete my social media accounts. I had first created my Facebook account eight years before hand, when I was just 10 years old, and using it everyday to either check my feed or message someone had become a routine that was so thoroughly ingrained in my day-to-day life. I would check Facebook and other social media sites like Snapchat on the bus home from school, whilst eating dinner , before I went to sleep , or generally anytime I was bored……
I guess the reason I had deleted it, was essentially to have a ‘fresh start’, I had just completed high school, and I wanted to let go of all the people in my social circle that I no longer felt I wanted in my life. In the weeks before hand , I had spent time lurking forums and blogs where individuals documented their own personal experiences with deleting social media. The one thing I noticed was that most people did this as a short-term ‘challenge’ or ‘experiment’. However, for me I wanted this to be something permanent and when I deleted all my social media profiles, I had no intention of ever making a new account.
Eventually, after approximately a year off social media, I recreated all my SM profiles and now frequently use these sites again. But during my time off social media, there were many things I learnt which I hope to share in this post. Here are some of them.
1. My productivity levels increased:
One of the most positive aspects I found with deleting SM, was that I felt like I could do a lot more with my day than I could previously imagine. My concentration and energy levels would improve dramatically, as I would not be distracted checking my phone every 20 minutes waiting to see whether I had a notification that someone had messaged me or liked a post.
Deleting SM did not only allow me to study and exercise for much longer periods, it also allowed me to develop new interests and hobbies. I would develop a strong passion for reading both fiction and non fiction genres. I would constantly browse websites and apps such as Quora, Medium, Khan Academy, Duo Lingo. Whenever I was bored, rather than browsing my Facebook feed, or snapchatting my new sneakers to my friends, I was learning new random facts about ancient history or about the different roles of neurotransmitters in our brain; knowledge I never knew would even fascinate me! Whenever, I would study, exercise , or read , I would jokingly pretend to feel like Eddie Morra from the movie limitless. In the sense that I felt that I was accumulating great amounts of knowledge.
2. Without SM my mood was a lot more constant and my anxiety levels were generally low!
Perhaps one of the most significant things, I have learned from deleting SM and re-activating it again is just how distinguishable and different my mood has been when I have had SM in comparison to when I had deleted it. Without SM, my mood would be a lot more calm and constant, and the highs and lows which I’d experience would be based on a lot more genuine experiences and factors. For instance, the highs which I’d experience would come from going to the beach, hanging out with friends , enjoying nice food etc… Whilst the lows which I’d expereince would come from having a family member in hospital or witnessing poverty whilst travelling in a third world country.
With SM, I feel that my mood constantly fluctuates; changing over a period of seconds and that my highs and lows are centered around quasi and irrational ideas. I can feel terrific from the sole act of a like on a photo or a reply to a text message. Yet concurrently, my mood could severely drop from merely seeing a photo of an event my friends didn’t invite me to, or having a message ignored.
Through my day-to-day use of social media, I constantly get anxious over petty things which probably could not even constitute being ‘first world problems’. I regularly worry about my self-image online and what people think of my posts / pictures / message etc … Additionally, I could stress about minor things such as whether or not I should have done X, or shouldn’t have done Y.
I guess without SM, my mood was a lot more constant. It wasn’t centered around petty and irrational concepts such as replies or notifications. I was generally less stressed , and grateful for the things I had in life.
3. Just how hard it was to keep in contact with people without SM
I think loneliness was the biggest factor in me reactivating my SM accounts. When I deleted my SM, I didn’t completely cut myself off from communicating with people, I would still talk with my friends through SMS / Phone Calls. However, I found this difficult because communication via SMS is usually direct and brief, and thus it was hard to have a proper conversation with people. This was particularly the case, with keeping in contact with new people I would meet, as I felt it was more ‘awkward’ to talk to and get to know people better via sending SMS’s and emails, than it would be by communicating with them on a SM site.
That is why I think one of the benefits of using SM for me, is that its easier to keep in contact with new and existing people. As I have found it more simpler to find people in my contacts, communicate to people in groups and be invited to more social outings and events.
That is not to say that reactivating SM has completely eradicated the feeling of loneliness I have encountered. I could still feel lonely seeing photos of an event/ party I wasn’t invited to, or watching videos of my friends travelling. However, I think the benefits of having the opportunity to keep in contact and communicate with people more frequently , strongly outweighs these ‘difficulties’.
4. Just how needy and attention seeking my behaviour can be with SM.
I thing from the time I’ve spent using and not using SM there’s been some important lessons I have learned. Without sounding too generic, looking back at some of the messages, snaps , post I’ve made on SM, they haven’t always been reflective of the person I wanted to be, but have rather illustrated my personality to be attention seeking and obnoxious.
I’ve noticed this to be the case, not so much with Facebook, but particularly with Snapchat. During my time off SM, whenever I would go to a restaurant, a beach, or a natural park, the first thing I would think to myself would be something along the lines of ‘ wow this food looks good, can’t wait to eat it !’ or ‘ the waves look good, can’t wait to go into the water’. In contrast, with SM I have almost become addicted to thinking to myself ‘I need to snapchat this, to let all my friends know what I’m doing and hopefully for someone to reply’. Thus, instead of being interested in the ‘moment’ itself (whether it’d be the food , the scenery etc…), I am more concerned about the 5 second reaction my friends will have to the moment.
So to conclude, I think social media is neither a good nor a bad thing to use. Like almost everything in life, it has its pro’s and con’s and people will have good and bad experiences with it. Deleting social media did allow me to become more productive , however concurrently it also led to occasional feelings of loneliness and isolation. I think for me, it’s about finding the right balance between how much time I spent online and how much time I spent offline. So whilst I probably won’t delete SM again, I have tried limiting my use ;through turning off instant notifications and occasionally deleting SM apps (not my account) from my phone, which have helped me in managing my time a bit more efficiently.
As always, thank you for reading. I would love to know the experiences which anyone has had in deleting their social media, and whether you have the found the impact to be positive or negative.