What would happen if one day you just disconnected, if you pulled the plug on your social media?
What would I miss if I wasn’t on social media? What would change?
This is something I had to ask myself before I made the sudden choice to just not exist online.
By sudden, I meant that I had already spent a few months thinking about taking some time offline.
I had tried some half-assed attempts previously, but without fail, by the end of the day I would always find myself scrolling in this zombie like state.
It’s safe to say at this point, I have a social media addiction.
In absolute truth, I was worried that if I left social media, I was also leaving a huge part of my life behind, and I didn’t know if I was ready (or willing).
Facebook went first. I think the whole website just gives me false hope that one day, it will be the hub of friendship that it once was a decade ago.
I have fond memories of going on Facebook after school as a pre-teen, but that was when people actually used social media to communicate and build their relationships.
I’ve watched social media evolve from something beautiful to something incredibly poisonous.
It just seems like a constant reminder that my friends aren’t really my friends and that I am detached from the life that I thought I had.
The online world is drowning in this giant pissing contest where everyone wants to prove what a great life they have, even if they are struggling in real life.
While it can provide a solace of sorts, it is damaging the way that we view ourselves, our lives and the people around us.
It seems that humans are even taking ten steps back in humanity as ‘pitchfork’ culture is growing and more people are being hurt mentally and physically because of misconstrued information online.
It’s almost like the gift of mass communication and free speech that social media has given us, has been taken way too far.
Next went Instagram, for the second time. I wanted so bad to fall in love with it, I wanted it to reignite my love of photography (that I studied for about a term in high school, a career path that ended too soon).
I’m literally zooming in on every angel and checking every pixel.
Thanks to low self esteem, I’m archiving and un-archiving photos every day, or outright deleting them.
It’s like I am in a love hate relationship with my Instagram theme and the face I see in the photos. I can’t relate to it.
It needed to go, through it all, Instagram made me feel the most insecure.
It seems that Instagram boasts how great a person is by the volume of likes they get on each post, much like all the other platforms, however, it feels more personal when it comes to photos and this particular community.
In a way, it seems that rather than social media being used to create friendships and a larger sense of community, it has become a way to get famous fast.
It doesn’t seem like social media is about being social anymore.
It feels like it’s business interaction, where everyone is fighting for that promotion at any means possible. It’s lacks genuine human emotion.
Lastly went Twitter. This one hurt (#BestPlatform).
Twitter has become a community for me. I’ve made so many friends. I’ve had strangers help me out of dark times and I hope, I’ve helped them too.
Personally, I feel like Twitter has been this huge gift to me and in my last three years of recovery, it’s been one of the biggest aids in keeping me strong and hopeful.
Even while taking time offline, there have been a handful of people from Twitter checking in on me and it really has made the world of difference.
Just someone asking if you are okay, that alone is enough sometimes.
Social media still has that ability to connect you to real human interaction that you may not have in the real world, which is something I wish wasn’t taken advantage of.
I’ve had opportunities that I never would have dreamed of getting as the average Joe, but Twitter made it possible.
Letting go of Twitter, that made me feel like I was giving up friends, my ability to help others, and possible cool shit I could be doing (The FOMO is real in this one).
But for me, social media has been toxic to my mental health.
I’ve written completely clear and really not interesting Tweets before..and low and behold, some random stranger has decided to read it wrong, or twist it.
You may notice that I tend to delete tweets quickly, because from the moment I write a Tweet, I am thinking of every way it may be seen negatively.
I want to be proud of who I am, yet, I feel forced to filter myself because of someone I do not know, deciding that I am terrible person based on a single and indirect interaction.
Some people are determined to hate me without knowing me, others just feel like they must take out their repressed feelings onto my unsuspecting Tweets.
It’s really not personal at all, but social media makes everything feel personal.
Theoretically, we should be free to post what we want to post. We should be free to follow who we want to follow. We should be under no obligation, because it’s our own account – but if you spend a moment online, you’ll realise this is far from reality.
Being human is suddenly about being on show, while becoming less and less about the organic person underneath it all.
It’s really upset me at points, when I have been trying my best to be a better person, and help others while doing so, and I still get criticised for having feelings, making a spelling mistake, or not being able to cater for every single living being in limited characters.
It makes it so hard to be your genuine self online.
For someone you’ve never met, to judge you on 280 characters and try to tell you who you are, why you feel that way and everything wrong with your life. It’s so backwards.
No one should have to endure bullying, online or offline.
Social media has created this world where its so normal to spread hate, that people don’t even realise they are doing it.
Alas, after over ten years of being online, it was time to go offline.
I have to admit, I was stressed at first. What will I do? I spend 80% of my waking hours on social media.
How do I go back to before. What was that like? And how… How did I keep myself from being bored?
How do we live offline, in an online world? Society is pretty much all on computers and phones now.
What’s my identity when I don’t have a profile? Will people know I exist? Will they get in contact with me?
Here’s what happened when I stayed offline for two weeks.
Day one was weird, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
I did find myself sort of lying in bed and staring at the ceiling. I wasn’t sure how to spend this been found time.
Something I did realise though, is that I could now sit through a video, where as in the past, I would either not pay attention at all, or pause every second to check my social media.
As we already mentioned, I have a serious social media addiction, I get it.
As the first few days came and went, I found myself more deflated.
I had all this time and I didn’t know how to spend it.
It was a good thing for me really, because I was learning to live again but I can’t deny that it was bloody boring adjusting.
And then came the case of the twitching fingers, begging me to get back into social media. I felt seriously left out, like I was no longer even relevant.
It hurt a little, to know that there were opportunities that I was missing out on.
However, I was prompted to learn French, edit some old blogs and work on other ways to network.
For the first time in years, I was actually getting things done.
I was fixing old clothes that I swore I’d see before Christmas.
I was organising the house that hasn’t been touched since circa 2017.
I even did some touching up and cleaning to feel as much at home as I could in a rented place.
I’ve done more in 2 weeks offline, than I have done in a year online.
The most important change I noticed was that I had time to think.
I started to remember to do things, I relied less on my phone.
Which meant that I could sit down on my values and morals.
I realised that social media can make me a different person.
It can make me force a lifestyle that isn’t me, because I’m desperate to be seen and accepted by those around me.
Having time away from social media found me closer to the person I am.
There is no pressure. It’s quiet. It feels safe.
There is comfort in being able to be unapologetically yourself.
Remember that no human needs to be some sort of ‘trophy’ or ‘hero’ to matter.
No one should ever have to prove their worth or value by the number of followers they have, or even the harmless mistakes that they make publicly.
I think I could quite happily live without social media if it wasn’t for the community I have on Twitter.
I think I’ll be keeping my Facebook and Instagram closed and I’ll try to live offline as much as possible.
You can expect this mental health warrior to be spending much more time on her self-care and well-being in the current months.
Because the online world is not and has never been reality.
And I don’t want to miss out on living, like, really living.