I Quit Social Media for 30 Days (As an Addict)
What comes to your mind about abandoning your social media account? Fear of missing out? Can’t catch some updates? Here I will write about all my experiences when I was abandoning my social media accounts for the entire month.
What did I do when I’m bored? I subconsciously grab my phone and started to scroll the social media. When I feel like I’m doing nothing, I unintentionally open social media. When I hang out with my friends, I am keen to scroll through social media instead of having a nice conversation. Something is wrong and I knew it. I thought my life is all on the internet life and that made me think that my real life somewhat doesn’t matter.
I am only good on the internet, I am not worthy when I am not on the Internet, but I am an important individual on the internet, I fail when I am not on the Internet, Nobody likes me when I am not on the Internet, the Internet is my only friend, People are treating me badly except the internet environment
As an internet addict who impulsively uses social media, the above quote depicts me quite accurate. I was really bad at managing my thoughts. Every time I have a thought that is trivial enough to be neglected, I posted it on Instagram, Facebook, and tweet it on Twitter. Just like an attention seeker who needs positive responses to give me artificial pleasure and feels uneasy when there’s a negative comment towards myself. The more I post on social media, the more I check social media to see the comments, and the more likely I am to scroll social media indefinitely, that is what people called doomscrolling.
And when I was trying to manage my time better, seeking what could be improved with my time management, I realize that I open Facebook more than 40 times, open Instagram 20 times a day, Twitter, Reddit, and even more than that. I thought I was managing my time better, although I have scheduled everything from waking up to my bedtime. I thought I was being productive, focused, and social, but I lamentably wasn’t.
From that point on, I know something wrong with myself and I need to fix it as soon as possible to get perfect focus and productivity. But some of my friends told me that I will miss every benefit. For instance, they said I can get a job easily, I can build connections, I can actually learn new things, and I will miss out on the latest news. But gradually, I perceived that it doesn’t matter at all.
And a friend told me to read a book called “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport. The book said that if I want to declutter my mind from digital addiction, I need to step away from optional digital online activities for thirty days. And yeah, actually it’s not only social media that actually made me become an addict. It’s the internet. At the end of the thirty days, I can then add back a small number of carefully chosen online activities that I believe will provide massive benefits.
Here are what I did before the digital decluttering started:
- Make a thread/post to tell my friend that I’ll be away. If anything urgent they can text me or call my phone number.
- Logged out my accounts from all my browsers.
- Uninstalled all the social media apps.
What I did to keep myself from thinking to open my social media account
In order to keep my productivity and my focus remain longer, I did these things:
- I put away my phone far from my desk where I’m working on my assignments and coding stuff.
- Turn off any notification except call notification.
- During my break time, instead of checking my phone every minute, I check my phone once and I will read a book or perhaps go out to get fresh air.
- If I have any thoughts that come up in my mind, instead of tweet them, I will just write that down in my notebook.
- When I’m burning out, I will take a walk, help strangers you bump into who need your help, have a nice conversation with my friends, and unsurprisingly there are a lot of positive things I can do without my phone!
I’m trying to get my mind accustomed to the world without social media. I uninstalled all my social media apps on my phone and logged out from all my accounts in the browser. That made my mind feel empty. Usually, when you do nothing, you open social media. When you waiting, you open social media. When you feel saturated and bored, you open social media. What if I entirely remove social media from my life? Yeah, extremely bored. But I knew that was something that could change my habit.
The bad habit of my hand is still there, which is always unconsciously opening social media in the browser because I simply couldn’t resist it at all though it was diminished a bit. I was thinking about my friends on social media, I guess there will be a lot of people who texted me or tagged me but unfortunately, I won’t respond to them for a month.
I was thinking about the people who aren’t using social media at all. “What the heck? doesn’t he think that he’s so old-fashioned? What about”
That two days were full of anxiety. I could feel the high surge of opening my social media accounts. Because when I checked my email, there was a notification that likely something had happened when I’m away. When I asked my friend about what happened, it was just something unimportant. So I tried to overcome that by blocking all emails that come from social media providers.
I recognize the pattern. The pattern is how I subconsciously grab my phone every 5 minutes and check for notifications, although there’s nothing to see. What I did is to put away my phone as far as my hand and my eye couldn’t reach it. If I really want to use my phone, it requires a large amount of motivation and effort to just pick up the phone.
Nevertheless, gradually I feel like I came back to live in the world. I feel more social than before. I’m trying to get back to nature, to how actually humans are supposed to live. I took a walk, talk to friends in person, engage with the community, read books, stare at the clouds, and did many more things.
Finally, I can reach my peak in productivity! I can keep my focus so much longer than before I quit social media. The sensation of desiring to not waste even a minute was actually coming back to me. Because of that, I always seeking something that I could do, something productive. After I finish one task, I look for another task that I can do, like some assignments, programming, writing, and if I feel like there’s nothing to do, a book is always within my reach.
On the 8th day, I successfully made my mental habit stronger. Every time I came back to my room, usually I check my phone immediately without even thinking. But now, every time I came back to my room, I’d immediately grab my book and read at least a few pages. Why book? Because reading a book is a good start to trigger my focus before I continue with any activity.
Since day 11 and forth, it doesn’t require me to give a heavy mental effort to resist the desire to open my social media accounts. My confidence that I never felt for the last few years started to shine again. But sometimes I got dreams about opening my social media account and laughing at a meme, and that recurred like five to six times since the first day. I think it’s normal to happen for an addict when he started to leave what he’s addicted to.
I have decided, that if after these thirty days I come back to my account, I will use it carefully, with so much consciousness so I won’t get drowned deep down by scrolling indefinitely. Before I open the account, I need strong intention and mental readiness, because there will be a lot of distractions that can lead me to consume my time significantly. To do that, I won’t install any social media app on my smartphone, I will use it through the browser (which is quite arduous to do), do sign in to my account, and log out every time I finish using it.
I knew it. I knew that actually, social media is not as important as basic human needs like food. My life was so much better at this phase. I feel like I don’t need social media in my life, to get a happy life, and it’s even better without it.
As you can see the image above, indicates how much contribution to projects in GitHub repositories. This is hella impressive to look at how improved I am regarding productivity. Starting from April, when I discarded social media, the square is getting more green and green. The time that usually I use to scroll and debate in the comment section on social media, I change to think about what can I do for people, for the development of my projects, and maintain the projects that I have abandoned for a long time.
Here are the things that were changed in a better way:
|I feel like I need to grab my phone once every several minutes to check some notifications||I don’t give a damn about unimportant notifications.|
|Every time I feel bored, subconsciously I grab my phone.||Every time I feel bored, I grab a book and start reading.|
|I open social media and scroll for an indefinite time thoughtlessly.||I open social media only to do my only intention, not to get lost by scrolling.|
It’s terribly hard to get off social media for an extended amount of time, but it can be worth it. It helped me a lot by telling my mind that I should do something more valuable and meaningful things instead of doomscrolling. I know I make fewer memories by not recording every moment and posting it to Instagram, but I can enjoy the event to the fullest because by having the urge to post to social media, I inevitably feel like it would suck out the joy that I can actually have. The final conclusion is, I have much better happiness by decreasing social media online time.