Detaching From Social Media for One Month, by Mark Rick
On January 23, the start of the semester, I decided to delete social media for self-improvement. For me, this meant deleting Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. This decision came with some fears. I was most worried about Snapchat because that’s my primary way of keeping in touch with some of my friends. I was scared that I would lose contact with them. Despite these fears, I was excited to see where my “no social media” experiment takes me.
After a long winter break of relaxing, I wasn’t quite ready to be productive. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get back into the swing of things after a month of scrolling TikTok and playing Xbox. The break was needed after a busy fall semester, but it made me lazy. Toward the end of break, I needed to become more productive to be successful this semester. I started to reflect on where I spent my time and what I wanted. Through this, I realized I was spending more time on social media than I wanted to. All of this led to me deciding to delete social media once the semester started.
Once it hit January 23, I removed Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok from my phone. I was curious to see how it would impact me, but I was also scared to go through with it. The first week of no social media was a huge adjustment. It made me realize how much I used social media without even thinking about it. Every time I had a couple of minutes — waiting in line, while I was with friends, while I was walking and even in class — I was using social media.
Deleting social media forced me to be more present for the normal things in life, like just being with friends. I was missing out on life’s small moments because I was always on my phone. This was a bittersweet realization for me because I realized I might have missed out, but at the same time, I was excited to be engaged in real life again.
The second week of no social media was still weird, but it was somewhat normal at this point. I felt some loneliness without it, but I was able to keep in touch with most of my friends. At this point, I realized I had a lot of extra time and began picking up some new hobbies. For example, I got into chess, which was something I had always wanted to do but had never explored. With the extra time, I started learning about chess and began playing online with friends. It was also easier to get outside and exercise regularly. The best benefits of deleting social media were that I picked up new hobbies and devoted time to more important things.
By the third week, life without social media felt normal. I made the adjustment and began going about my day without the urge to scroll TikTok or check Snapchat. I didn’t feel disconnected from my friends. I wasn’t talking to them as much without social media, but the friends that I care about the most still kept in touch through texts or calls. I was also able to be more present and connect more with the people I was around at the time.
Finally, the fourth week hit, and things were still going smoothly. I decided to install TikTok to see if my relationship with it would be better now. In the days of it being reinstalled, I noticed the urge to endlessly scroll came back and affected my productivity. I felt less motivated and struggled to get out of bed in the morning. Although this could be for a variety of reasons and not necessarily just because of TikTok, it is still worth pointing out.
Through this experience, I’ve learned more about myself, and I feel I’ve grown from it. I learned more about my interests and what I’m drawn to. In the time without social media, I turned to music, puzzles, chess and biking in my free time. I also grew socially by letting go of social media. Without it, I had to be more intentional about seeing people and keeping in touch with family and friends.
Ultimately, the experience was great, and I value the growth from it. I feel more motivated and better in general. In the future, I plan on keeping social media off my phone or keeping it limited. I would recommend it to anyone, and I believe if you stick with it, you will notice the benefits.