Oftentimes, I find myself unable to shake off the noise buzzing in my head. I soon realized that a lot of it came from (surprise!) my passive consumption of social media. While I get so inspired and creative from looking at how people create their photos, videos and blog posts, I also find myself thirsty for more content to the point of spending mindless hours a day just consuming.
I decided to delete the Instagram and Facebook apps on my phone, giving myself the option to reinstall Instagram over the weekend to “catch-up.” I could also access both sites on my laptop if I really wanted to. After a week of doing that, I realized that not only did I get rid of that urge to check and mindlessly scroll through my phone, I was feeling calmer inside as well. Most surprisingly, I realized that I didn’t miss checking Instagram. I got a little FOMO, but after catching up with my favorite content creators over the weekend (within the span of half an hour or so), I felt like I had consumed enough. I thought back to when I deleted Snapchat from my phone a year ago, and how much more relieved I felt when I did that.
I always thought I’d have enough “willpower” to control how I consume and use things, but in a world where apps and devices are designed to constantly demand our attention, sometimes literally removing ourselves from it is all it takes to relieve us of that noise.
It’s been a few weeks since summer break started, and I’ve found myself reflecting about my usage of social media once again. I let myself reinstall Instagram on my phone for a few weeks, and I’m also consuming Tumblr and YouTube, and occasionally Twitter, on a regular basis.
But I’ve decided that if I want to maintain my sanity, I have to set some healthy boundaries. I’m going back to the weekend rule for Instagram, as I feel that doing so will make it a habit and thus break the loop of scrolling aesthetic feeds whenever I’m bored. I’ve also found my way back to books, as I always do when school isn’t kicking my ass. I take my precious Kindle Voyage pretty much everywhere I go, and read a few pages here and there instead of reaching for my phone.
I often think about finding that sweet balance between time spent alone and time spent with others. Though I claim to be an introvert, being alone makes me too well-aware of my self-consciousness, which often sends me down a spiral of self-doubt that ends up being counterproductive. In other words, spending too much time with myself can make me want to isolate myself to the extent of thinking that the world is conspiring against me. It’s very dramatic inside my head. I’ve now accepted that there’s no “sweet balance” in terms of my social life, and I don’t expect to find that with social media either.
Because social media is such a 24/7 accessible space, I do believe that limiting my usage can only have positive effects for myself and my social life. Social media may be an extension of social life, but it by no means can replace the quality of bonding with people in real life.