I deleted social media from my life from Feb. 18 through April 5, 2015. I chose to give up social networking for the purpose of Lent, the time in which Christians choose to make a sacrifice in preparation for Easter.
Before I went on my hiatus, social media consumed my life, and I knew it was time to do something about it. That meant no Instagram, no Facebook, no Twitter and no Snapchat. I kept texting for communication purposes, but the rest was off limits. Here’s what I learned in those 40 days:
- There is always another way to procrastinate. I thought that ceasing to spend all my time scrolling through Instagram and Tumblr would give me more time to study, read and be a more productive person. However, once I got rid of social media, it was Netflix. Once I got rid of Netflix, it was Buzzfeed quizzes. I put away my phone altogether and found myself playing Solitaire with real cards.
- I didn’t miss anything. Despite missing a few Snapchats, I kept up with the people I am close with. There are some acquaintances with whom I stopped communicating during those 40 days, but that doesn’t bother me. I stayed updated with my close friends and learned who was in my life and who was just in my newsfeed.
- I had little desire to go on social media, but the impulse to log on was always there. I never once thought to myself, “I really wish I was on Twitter right now.” Yet somehow, every time I took out my phone, my instinct was to click on the first social media I saw. It’s become second nature to scroll through newsfeeds, and retraining my brain was the most difficult part of this time.
- Your Instagram “likes” don’t matter. After spending 40 days with 0 notifications or likes, I’ve realized that I can post a selfie on Instagram without spending the next day stressing over the number of likes. If I feel confident with my #SelfieSunday, then it doesn’t matter how many Instagram likes or Snapchat views it gets.
During Lent of 2016, I gave up Netflix. I also participated in an “iFast,” a 24-hour period without technology. This taught me not only how much I relied on my devices, but how much of a necessity it is in our culture. Without my computer, I had no access to schoolwork; without my phone, I could not make plans to see any of my friends.
Social media can be a curse or a blessing. For many years, it distracted me from being a social and productive person. Now I can enjoy the benefits of social networking without feeling controlled by it.