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.

-Michelle

3 Comments

  1. I’m considering of doing the same thing to be honest. Just using social media on my computer.
    But the problem is that everything I love is in Asia. Especially about my favorite group. And I am afraid to miss something because if I don’t have this, I know nothing about their activities. I’m really torn.
    I think doing a restriction like using only social media for one use only (like following theme or person you like. Like my group for example, will be the only use of social media) could be a huge step already for decreasing the use of social media. Especially if you are interested in a lot of thing (like myself unfortunately).
    This post of you came in a great time, it increase my reflection about it. Thank you.

  2. Hi Michelle!

    This is the third post I am commenting on today. I have been reading your most recent ones and am amazed by your stories and solutions you have found. As a college student your experiences are in a way similar to mine (if I were American, I’d go to high school, there’s no English term for what we call it in Austria) and therefore I look forward reading about the solutions you have found and shared with us (your readers) on mistyprose.

    I have recently stumbled across my old diary and read through what I wrote in July 2017. Back then I claimed that social media would be unhealthy for me and that I, before writing that entry, had had a break (2 weeks) of it. I was surprised that I had done that already two years ago and also felt kind of proud. I was thirteen back then and especially young teenagers can be easily influenced by social media and develop unhealthy habits so I am glad I decided to take a break.

    So how am I doing now? During the school year which ended in June I used WhatsApp, if you don’t know it please use Google, I assume me trying to explain it would cause confusion, to communicate with classmates and to not miss any important information. During the break I have installed it twice for each half an hour so far to check if anyone’s texted me that I didn’t tell I would only answer my regular text messages. It’s not exactly social media, I think, but also putting pressure on me because I connect it with school. Sometimes I download Instagram, also for up to one hour only, to see what my close friends have posted. The only app that I’d label as a social media app I use everyday and have never deleted is YouTube. And I am so happy it’s the only one.

    Social media can put so much pressure on one’s back and I don’t want it to have such power on my health and mind. I want to be the one to decide what influences me (and regarding social media it is possible to decide, it’s up to you what you want to deal with) and what I don’t want or need. So to anyone that doesn’t need Instagram (when chatting on only Instagram with friends whose phone number you don’t have or something like that it’s maybe good to have it) and uses it only because they’re bored: Try to live without it. Try a weekend break Michelle shares her story about in this post and see if it has positive results on your mental (or even physical) health. 🙂

    • I used WhatsApp back in Peru (it’s like what you said it is – not really social media, but you may still feel the need to use it to connect with people). It’s great to see how you’ve recorded your own experience with using social media, and reflecting back on which ones you really want to keep. (YouTube is also the only app I’ve never deleted lol)

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