This week I tried deleting social media off my phone. I know some of you might think this is the easiest challenge, but I had a really hard time with it. When I originally started this article, I was sure this was exactly what I needed — a break from social media, a break from my phone, and time to recharge myself. And now I’m realizing that I’m addicted to my phone.
I want to say that social media can be used for good. I’ve spent the last few months making sure that all of my social media platforms are as healthy and positive as they can be. While scrolling through people’s highlight reels for hours will never be the healthiest activity, it’s not necessarily bad for me. But here I am, addicted to my phone.
The first day of this challenge was a harsh wakeup call. I would find myself grabbing for my phone as a reflex the second I sat down, or ate, or even when I was working out. I have grown so accustomed to a constant flow of media and entertainment. As the days went on, I grabbed it less and less and when I did, I had purpose. There have been too many times when I grabbed my phone for a reason, opened an app, and then forgot about the reason altogether. Deleting social media helped me stay on track.
When this challenge started, the only social media apps I used on my phone were Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. You would think that because I only had a few apps, deleting social media would be relatively easy, but I think that made it harder. I’ve gotten so used to those three apps constantly feeding me and giving me those dopamine rushes. Once I didn’t have them, I started to feel like my phone was slightly useless without them.
I had all of my apps on my iPad, but I didn’t check them as often as I thought I would. One of the reasons people get so addicted to social media is because it’s constantly there. I would open my phone and before I did anything, I would quickly check Instagram. It’s so easy and yet so consuming. So the first step was eliminating the access.
On the first day, I grabbed my phone constantly. I would open it up and click on where TikTok or Instagram should be. It’s simply not good that I’m so used to getting ‘fed’ by this media and now it’s almost an unconscious decision. The second and third days I didn’t grab it as often, but I still would a few times. It takes 21 days to break or make a habit and I certainly wasn’t about to delete social media for 21 days.
While I have my apps on my iPad, there were many times when I tried to open social media on my phone, realized that it was on my iPad, and decided not to walk 5 steps and pick it up. I don’t know if that’s a comment on how lazy I am or that I might be less interested in seeing other people’s lives all of a sudden.
I realized that even when I checked Instagram or TikTok, I didn’t scroll through all the way. I used to relentlessly check it and try to know everything and see everything, but now it’s just not worth my time.
Yes, this was a much shorter challenge than I usually do. I find it funny that I’ll take on seven Olympians’ workout routines, but I can’t take on seven days without checking Instagram. I’m happy to get my apps back but I honestly don’t think I’ll put them back on my home screen. One trick I’ve learned is to keep them in your app library (available to iPhone users), so they’re there but you don’t see them the second you open your phone.
I didn’t measure my productivity over the past few days, but I know it went up. I also know that I was more present when my partner came over. We always watch TV at night and I often find myself scrolling on Instagram while we watch things together, but I kept my phone away for the past few nights.
I often end these challenges by saying whether I’d continue them, and I would continue this. I don’t think people need social media half as much as they use it. I know there is no reason for me to scroll endlessly through other people’s pictures in order for me to have a good day, and I know that social media can be a pretty serious addiction.
This challenge showed me how often I rely on other people’s content to give me joy and a break when I should be the one providing that for myself.
Have you deleted social media from your phone? What app has the most of your attention? Comment below!
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