Why I Left Social Media

Why I Left Social Media

Alexandra Docken, Membership Coordinator, Staff Writer

It was 5 pm on a Thursday night. I was casually scrolling through my Instagram feed (specifically my “finsta”) when my eyes locked. I saw a caption on a post that seemed to paralyze me on the spot. I sat there frozen while my mind seemed to swirl faster and faster uncontrollably. It was one single word, and yet it created in me such a feeling of peril and desperation. I soon realized that this was, by no means, the only occurrence of such an episode. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I have seen a comment, post, or part of a story that I immediately wished I hadn’t seen. The posts that paralyzed me were never hurtful or callous, but instead were casual chatter that seemed to instill such strong emotions in me. Things that reminded me of recent events or emotions that I preferred to not be brought back at the moment.

Social media has such a grasp on my life, that a single comment or post has the ability to radically transform my entire mindset in a split second. The feeling could last all night, or continue to plague my next day. It affected the way I lived my life. I’m not sure when social media began to have such a colossal clutch on my life, but I knew I needed to finally address it. Leaving social media wouldn’t fix everything, but if I could cut out even one aspect of my life that was negatively affecting me, it would be worth it.

That night, I decided to archive all of the posts on my account and leave a single post explaining what I was doing. I needed to find my smile again. After that, I closed out of Instagram and concentrated on research for my essay due the next Monday.

Flash forward to now. I’ve been off of all social media for a month, with the exception of Snapchat, which I use to view news outlets. Plus, I don’t keep streaks or snap very much, so it’s not a stressor for me. Overall, I can tell a difference in my demeanor. There isn’t a looming comment stuck in my head while I’m trying to hold a conversation. Nothing from social media is eating away at me through the day. Moreover, I’m not wasting hours scrolling through the depths of my feed, unconsciously letting time slip by. I’ve had more time to better complete my assignments, watch The Office for the eighth time, and accomplish other minor tasks.

However, I have encountered some obstacles during my hiatus. My phone notifies me whenever I’m tagged in a photo, mentioned, or sent a DM. Of course, my habit is to drop everything and check my phone. It’s like an unhealthy desire to need to see right then and there what’s going on. Most of the time, it’s harmless. For example, my friend sent me a screenshot of a story from Thanksgiving where another friend had tagged all of her friends for whom she was thankful. Or maybe it’s a picture from that recent party, and you want to be the first to like and comment and see what others are saying about the picture. I’ve wanted to open those notifications so many times, but have slowly found it easier and easier to understand that in the long run, they are not what is most important in my life. Consequently, I’ve found myself having more genuine conversations both over text or in person, due to my major communication platform no longer being an option.

As for now, I don’t know how much longer I will continue to not use social media. I assume I’ll return at some point, but I don’t know when that may be. It could be tomorrow, maybe a week from now. I never actually planned to be offline for this long. To be honest, I assumed it would last all of three days. However, what I ended up finding was a stronger sense of resilience, self-confidence, and happiness; and that’s good enough for me.