I deleted all my social media for one week. This is what happened

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock Photo: Supplied

OPINION: Day two was the hardest. 

That's when I knew it was a detox. The ticks were coming in thick and fast. They were all I could think about. I was isolated from friends and family. But I knew it was for the best, it had to be done.

Ever since my first taste, I had been addicted. 

It started back in 2007 with my first Bebo account, and the addiction to social media ballooned from there. 

Next it was Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram. I put in so many hours and so much dedication to stay up to date. 

It would be the first thing I'd look at in the morning; I'd get hits throughout the day at work, and evenings were wasted scrolling away. 

But for all the time spent on it, there was nothing in return. No joy, no value added to my life, and minimal inspiration. 

So that's it, I thought. I'm going to give it up a for one week to see what it does to my mental health and my productivity. 

My husband will be the first to tell you, without wasting my time glued to a screen, my mood improved. Significantly. 

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At work my inspiration, productivity, and engagement increased. 

And with all the extra time I was able to read more, spend more time with my husband, get more done around the house, and just be more present. 

I wasn't simply waiting for the next time I could pick my phone up. I could be in the moment. 

The week before giving up, my iPhone told me my screen time was 21 hours and 12 minutes, 10-and-a-half of that on social media. 

In that same week, I picked up my phone 683 times. 

The following week during my social media ban, I spent 15 hours and 37 minutes on my phone and picked it up 439 times. 

That's almost an entire work day I gained back in terms of time. 

Not looking at a blue screen every night before bed improved my sleeping dramatically. 

I had heavier and more consistent sleeps and felt more rested in the morning. 

When deleting all the apps on my phone on the Sunday night, I had this massive feeling of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). 

What if someone died, got engaged, had a birthday, or posted something really cool? 

But, surprisingly, come Monday morning I didn't miss it at all and actually felt kind of free. 

However, it did turn me into a bit of a judgmental cow concerning how much my husband was on his phone. Sorry, love. 

My thumb still darted to where Instagram and Facebook apps once sat, but there was nothing left in the Social folder on my phone. 

When I started deleting I went all-out, even deleting Facebook Messenger. 

This was the thing I missed the most because it was how I kept in touch with friends and family. 

Since deleting it, I realised it actually wasn't part of the social media problem. I wasn't spending hours scrolling Messenger. 

Part way through the week I ended up reinstalling Messenger on my phone. Well I had to, really.

I needed to send my brothers overseas a photo our photographer took of my dad out-and-about during a lockdown, when everyone on his street had been told to stay inside. Old fulla was just too nosy and couldn't help himself. 

And I think you'll agree, that's reason to get Messenger back, because gold like that needs to be shared with family to laugh at in the future.

The first part of the week without Messenger also saw me completely unaware of a birthday dinner invite I received and forced to hunt down people's actual phone numbers.

I imagine that's what it was like in the stone age. (A little millennial humour for you there.)  

As the end of my social media break loomed, I was hesitant and scared. 

I had spent a week literally living my best life and I was worried I would slip in to old habits if I let the beast back in. 

It wasn't an option to completely remove social media  from my life as I use Facebook and Instagram regularly for work. 

However, I can be more responsible with the way I use it. 

My first time getting back on the social media horse per se, I hated it. 

During my break Instagram announced they were going to stop showing likes on photos to try and help the wellbeing of their users. 

That's a start, but there's a much bigger problem with the way we consume social media.  

I found myself in a zombie-like trance scrolling Instagram the first time I went back on. I wasn't really paying attention or getting any joy from the snippets of people's lives I saw. 

It has also made me aware of the type of content I am consuming from the people I follow and do a stocktake. 

Many influencers were the first to go: I can't handle another outfit post which is actually an ad for some kind of vitamin. 

This detox was necessary and has changed the way I will use social media. Hopefully starting with far less time on it. 

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