Updated: Apr 19
I had been spending an unhealthy amount of time on social media. This was only confirmed to me once Apple bought in the Screen Time statistics on the phone settings. I did not realise the extent of my phone addiction - I was hitting 5-6 hours on my phone each day, with up to 100 pickups per day! Horrifying!
This led me to start thinking about the consequences of this phone and social media time. If I was spending 36 or more hours on my phone each week (as many people noted, that’s the same amount of time as a typical full time job) then there was bound to be some repercussions.
I decided to drastically reduce my time on the phone and quit instagram (facebook and twitter have not had as big a pull on me, and time spent there was pretty insignificant so they were saved from the cull).
Here are some of my thoughts on the reasons why a social media detox - a life without as much time on social media and much less time on the phone, could be so beneficial;
Simply Less Stress
Could it be that I was in a state of stress when being a slave to the phone. After all, every-time you log onto Instagram you are bombarded with images of insta-famous ‘influencers’ who seem to have it all. Solid 6 packs, villas on the beach in LA, perfect teeth and happy smiling faces. Though on one level we know that this is not their reality, there’s always a part of us that feels like maybe it is – that maybe we are lacking, not as successful, not as good. No-one needs to see people they don’t know, leading supposedly perfect lives whilst they try to flaunt the next product they are sponsored to shift.
In the Present Moment
I could be on holiday in the most beautiful setting, but before I really had a chance to catch the scene, I would be catching it on my iPhone for Instagram. This was a really unhealthy way to be and was really creating a feeling with disconnection to the moment and the people I was with. The number of times I’d go on holiday and lay on the bed in the evening to catch up with Instagram, and looking at what other people were doing on their holidays. Such a waste of time! The present is all we have, so enjoy the moment, not everyone else’s moments. I feel like this reduction in social media time will do great things for my mental health.
My first phone pick up would be within a few minutes of opening my eyes. Looking at my phone would also be one of the last things I did before sleeping. Now that the distractions are gone with social media off my phone (and Instagram deleted) I have noticed the quality of my sleep is better. My energy levels are up and generally enjoying a feeling of well-being and calm.
My screen time is now about 14 hours per week, instead of 36, and I hope to get this down to 7 hours per week. So I have reclaimed approximately 20 hours so far from the lonely world of social media. At the same time it is important that I remain aware not to find other useless distractions. For example I noticed myself visiting the BBC News site a lot more, reading about Cyprus news and surfing the net. As long as I remain aware, this should not be too distracting. You may have noticed an upshot of my blogging, so that has been one postitive area I am investing my new found time in. I am also reading more, exercising more, spending more time with nature, family and friends, or simply being with my thoughts. Who knows where this new time may lead for me. Not a bad trade off.
Post instagram and post a life half spent on the phone, I have found a sense of peace. No longer does that Brexiteer 'friend' popup on your screen with an infuriating post, and no longer does someone comment 'mmm bacon' on your vegan post on instagram. No longer do you suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) because you have absolutely no idea that you're missing out.
Of course social media isn't all bad. I've made a couple of friends from it. I've made life-style choices by what I've found out from it, such as seeing the horrors of the meat and dairy industry which led me to a life of Veganism and i've even been contacted by a couple of clients regarding personal training via social media. It's all a balancing act. For me, balancing was not easy and i wanted out of my biggest foe - instagram and this has been great for me so far. Will I return? Never say never.
Check your phone (there should be a screen-time or similar) and find out how much time you are spending on your phone and on social media. Hopefully you’ve enacted much more discipline than I had done, but if there is room to free up your time and improve your mental health, productivity and well-being then you owe it to yourself to do so.
Now, put your phone down and go live real life.