Think about what you did this morning. Maybe you woke up and ate breakfast? Stayed in bed for a few extra minutes? Watched a show on Netflix because it wasn't quite time to get out of bed yet?
How about the middle of the day? Went home from work for lunch? Went shopping with a friend? Took your dog to the park?
And of course, what will you do tonight? Eat dinner and watch a movie? Read a few pages of a book? Do some homework? Catch up with your mom on the phone?
Now I want you to think of all of the times in between those three segments of the day you will check social media.
Yeah, it's a lot, right?
About a year ago, I started to become depressed. I wasn't your typical candidate for depression. I'm a college student with awesome grades, a well-paying and low-stress job, a great group of friends and family, and a fantastic boyfriend. I couldn't exactly pinpoint why I started to randomly cry in the middle of my workday, or lacked the energy and motivation to get out of bed in the morning. I couldn't figure out why my head was filled with thoughts of negativity and sadness, hindering my social skills and willingness to get out of my apartment on a normal basis. I stopped going to dance class, started skipping school, started constantly bailing on my friends. A few times I even bailed on my boyfriend. I was so confused because I had no reason to feel this way, I just did.
Being an intelligent college student, I started logging my routines to see if there was a pattern or link between my depression and another occurrence in my life. And after two days of observation, the reason was very clear: I filled all that time that I should be in class, with friends, going out, staring at my phone.
The endless hours I had spent on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit were absolutely ridiculous. I would stare at people's Snapchat stories, watching them with all of their friends and their perfect lives filled with laughter and joy. I would scroll through my Instagram feed, with people that I barely knew living these flawless lives filled with yummy food and perfect bodies at the beach and stunning relationships where the couple kisses each other in front of a pretty view and posts about how much they love each other. The "fake Instagrams" more popularly known as "finstas" where people would passive aggressively talk shit about their friends, but they wouldn't use real names because their friends would see those posts and know it was about them. Twitter would provide me with laughter, reading about how incredibly stupid our president of the United States is and how Chrissy Teigen truly despised him. Facebook was filled with pictures of old friends from middle and high school, "living their best lives" and sharing videos of recipes to make at home. I was addicted to social media, and vicariously living my own sad, depressed life through these people that I barely knew.
After realizing what had happened to me, I made quick action. Cold turkey. I deleted Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, eliminating my greatest distractions and forcing me to go out into the real world, where people don't eat perfect looking food and relationships aren't based around pretty pictures of people kissing and Chrissy Teigen isn't hilariously talking about Donald Trump casually in the middle of the street you are walking down. Of course, I got a lot of shit for it. My friends would say,
"Why did you delete Snapchat? You ruined our streak!"
"I can't believe you deleted Instagram. Now you have no idea what's going on in my life."
or, my absolute favorite,
"How will you know if someone is mad at you if you don't see their subtweets about you?"
People. It is 2018. COMMUNICATE IN REAL LIFE.
Now, I'm not saying social media is a bad thing. Posting about our lives is a great outlet and an awesome way to share things with those you love. It's also a great platform for sharing new ideas and experiences (like I am doing right here, today). But when you are too afraid to tell someone you're mad at them so you passive aggressively post about it on social media, or you would rather Snapchat someone for four hours worth of a conversation instead of calling or hanging out with them, OR if you would rather lie in bed and browse Facebook instead of going out into the real world because it's "just too hard"... there's a problem.
Deleting social media not only enhanced my physical and mental health, it helped with my communication skills. When you go out to dinner with your friends and they're all sitting there on their phones to check Snapchat, but you don't have Snapchat so you can't join in on the fun... it kind of forces you to make conversation in real life. Instead of seeing about my sister's vacation on Facebook, I have to actually pick up my phone and call her to hear all about her experiences. And my absolute favorite part about no longer having social media—no one knows anything about my life anymore. It's all private! I no longer feel the urge to post on my finsta every time I have a strong opinion. If I'm annoyed or upset with someone, I confront them directly instead of "subtweeting" at them. I feel free and clear and luckily am on my way out of the depressed hole I was in.
So I challenge all my lovely readers to try it—just for a week—delete your social media. See what happens.