Day 1 Sunday 9/26/19
The second I deleted the social media apps off my phone, I felt a moment of panic.
“What did I just get myself into?” I shook my head and deeply sighed…but there was no going back. It’s hard to back out after a public declaration, precisely why I made it so in the first place.
All day, I caught myself reaching for my phone in order to try to check social or to post to my Instagram story but realizing I couldn’t. I felt a little lost about what to do in my spare time. It was the first time I objectively understood how much I relied on social media for something to do in my spare time or to “unwind.”
Day 2 Friday 9/27/19
I worked the entire weekend, Friday to Sunday. Not having Instagram as a distraction at work was a downer, especially when the clinic was slow going. Instead, I started reading Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave and caught up on evidence-based nursing articles.
Day 5 Monday 9/30/19
I had a day off! I woke up bright and early at 6am. My mom came over shortly after to hang out with Zoya. My grand plan was to clean out my closet, go through all the containers in my basement and get out my winter clothes…as well as finally get rid of all the clothes I had been hoarding for years in bins in preparation for that garage sale I would have one day. Without the constant interruption of notifications on my phone, I was able to get everything in my closet perfectly hung and folded by 9am. I spent the next hour and a half going through all the bins in the basement, separating what I could possibly consign and what needed to go straight to Goodwill. Zoya was napping by then, so my mom helped me carry giant packed garbage bags of clothes to my car. I drive a sedan…but that thing was packed to the brim! Seeing how much stuff I had been holding on to was equal parts shocking and shameful. I could only imagine how much money and time it all amounted to…not to mention the sheer excess.
At 11am I drove to Crossroads Trading Company in Evanston and consigned what I could. Afterwards, I took the rest straight to Goodwill and broke a sweat loading it into their blue plastic wheelie bins…but it felt so good to say goodbye. Kind of like breaking off a bad relationship. I rewarded myself with an iced tea and pastry from Collectivo Coffee (sustenance is vital, after all!).
Without losing momentum, I also cleaned out our office and recycled a bunch of old paperwork that I had been saving from the era of nursing school. Another giant box of stuff gone.
My legs were buzzing by the end of the day but I felt so accomplished. I know for a fact that if I had been allowing myself to take “breaks” to watch Instagram stories, I would have never been as productive.
Day 8 Thursday 10/3/19
I made it one week! My withdrawal from social media was officially gone and I decided to keep going for a bit longer.
Thursday was date night, planned by Vlad. We had his mom come out and stay in the house with Zoya while we went out to Found Kitchen and Social House. It’s a really cute small plates and cocktail restaurant with eclectic and bohemian decor. We cozied up on a loveseat and ate lamb meatballs and truffle fries and talked. No phones in sight, no documenting on social media…just quality time.
Day 9 Friday 10/4/19
I was reflecting on my social media break while taking a much deserved shower after an intense workout. Aren’t long, hot showers some of the best places to ponder life? Not having social media accounts to check and post to every day, multiple times a day was truly liberating. My productivity level skyrocketed in these days. I was more intentional and mentally present while spending time with family and friends. I also wasn’t sharing my life moments on my Insta feed, which made me realize how accustomed I had grown to doing that…and to seeking validation through my sharing. When I needed someone to celebrate a life win with, or someone to comiserate with about a rough morning, the easiest solution was to post about it to my story. I knew my post would generate several responses in my inbox. I could get the instant gratification of just about anything in my life being publicly affirmed with just one snap of the camera.
It’s less vulnerable than prayer or talking. It’s also cingey and hard to admit, even in the solitude of the shower.
There were also good parts of social media that I really missed, like being able to keep up with my friends in other parts of the world. And seeing everyone’s silly, sarcastic Instagram story posts.
I began to see clearly that it’s not the social media that’s the problem, it’s the misuse that becomes unhealthy. The mindless scrolling, the low-key affirmation fishing, the comparisons – those are the issues.
That’s a lot of deep thought for one shower!
As my social media fast comes to an end, I am grateful for the desire I had to do it in the first place. Giving something up is never easy, even if it’s outwardly superficial. Removing myself from social media gave me clarity on how easy it is to become dependent on it, and the faulty tendencies within me. Hindsight is always truly 20/20.
Going forward, I hope that this experience will serve as a gauge for me. I want to maintain a healthy boundary with social and seek to connect with people in an organic fashion.
I want to be comfortable with my choices simply because I made them, not because my Insta friends sent me a clapping hands emoji.
Certainly, I won’t be perfect. Figuring out how to balance technology with in life is a challenge everyone faces in the world today. For every amazing advance and incredible new platform, there are so many possible pitfalls.
I’m no exception. I’m just happy to be learning.