This is Week 1 of Sophia Breene’s #socialmediafast experiment. Check out Week 0 to read about why she’s giving up social media, read Week 2 to learn why she deactivated Facebook, skim through Week 3 to see how socializing makes social media-free weeks fly by, and find out the final conclusions in Week 4.
Have I really been on my #socialmediafast for just one week? It feels like forever! Since giving up Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr, I’ve learned a lot about how much I depend on social media, both professionally and in my personal life. Seven days in, I’ve discovered that social media is extremely distracting, productivity-sucking, soul-ruining… and also kind of amazing. And the withdrawal might be tougher than I previously thought.
Read on for my thoughts after Week One of the #socialmediafast.
Are You There Internet? It’s Me, Sophie
Before starting the fast, I collected data about how often I checked my social media profiles every day. But somehow that didn’t accurately capture just how “plugged in” I really was. I usually don’t spend hours upon hours on social media each day (key word there being usually), but I’m definitely in the habit of checking in every hour or so. Without those small bursts of social media activity throughout the day, I feel like a pop culture-less island unto myself.
Before the fast, I used to joke with friends that “my job is the Internet.” Breaking news about Obamacare? I’ve already seen it on Twitter. Miley Cyrus’s latest clothes-optional music video? Saw it on someone’s Facebook wall.
But without access to popular social media sites, it’s nearly impossible to know what’s going viral on the Web. It’s liberating to be so cut off, but also a bit worrisome — part of my job is knowing what’s going on online, so being pretty far out of the loop means that I might miss professional opportunities.
The bright side is that holy heck, am I productive without social media. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how often Twitter would drag me away from a work project or Instagram would suck me down a rabbit hole of procrastination. I’ve never felt more “in the zone” at work. In the past, I experienced chunks of productivity and focus — but now I’ve got my game face on all day, every day.
The Space Between
Ditching the social media feeds has also made me a bit more content with my lot. Not checking Facebook makes me feel more accepting of my own choices: I literally can’t compare my apple-picking trip to a cousin’s similar excursion, or lust over a new pair of shoes spotted on someone’s wall — and so I don’t. After just seven days without Instagram, the itch to document my brunch meal or the glorious fall foliage is totally gone. I’m content leaving my phone in my pocket, taking a mental snapshot, and moving on with my day. It makes my previous existence seem a bit ridiculous, not unlike this parody video (*there are a few instances of explicit language).
I also feel much less pressure to participate in the endless cycle of retweeting, favoriting, and “liking.” On Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, especially, I often feel obligated to engage with friends’ updates — if I scratch their back, they’ll scratch mine, and we’ll all look glamorous and cool (right?). Taking a few steps away has made it pretty clear that all the social media hoopla is unnecessary, at least for my self-esteem. I don’t feel any more or less popular or trendy after a week without a post.
On the other hand, I miss knowing what my friends and family are up to. This week was very busy, and I didn’t have time to write letters, call many friends, or see buddies in person. I was able to invite some friends to Greatist’s weekly happy hour, and during our conversation they referenced a mutual buddy’s new relationship status and two event invitations that I was totally clueless about. The experience left me feeling very isolated (Can you say FOMO, anyone?).
Since the whole point of social media is to connect people, it makes sense that I feel a bit cut off without a constant stream of photos, 140-word musings, and status updates from my good friends and acquaintances. But I’m determined to push on with this fast and explore new and unexpected insights. Stay tuned to discover what revelations the next few weeks without social media will reveal!
I’d like to give a special shout-out to those who have decided to join the #socialmediafast! Good luck to all — if you’re participating in the fast (or an abbreviated version) don’t forget to tweet @Greatist and share your story (you know, whenever you sign back in).