Disconnected: I deleted social media for a week – here’s what happened

%22Social+Media+is+a+dangerous+place+to+seek+affirmation%2C+acceptance%2C+identity%2C+and+security.%22+Cornelius+Lindsey

Chloe Houwman

"Social Media is a dangerous place to seek affirmation, acceptance, identity, and security." Cornelius Lindsey

Chloe Houwman, Entertainment Editor

Many teens and young adults struggle to go a day without social media. I know that my time spent on social media is time that I could be doing something else, something more productive. I also know that I end up feeling more lonely when I spend more time on social media because I usually end up seeing people doing all of the things I wish I could be doing or people who are hanging out without me. So, for the first week that school was canceled, I decided that I wanted to challenge myself and delete my social media apps (Snapchat, Instagram, VSCO and TikTok) from my phone for a week. 

I deleted the social media apps from my phone on Saturday, March 14 and I re-downloaded the apps on Saturday, March 21. The first few days were the hardest by far. I kept catching myself wanting to redownload the app to check up on what everyone was doing. I distracted myself with work to overcome these impulses. The longer I went without it, the more I realized that I didn’t need it. 

With social media becoming a large part of day to day life, professionals are examining the relationship between social media usage and emotional well being. In an article written by the Mayo Clinic Staff, readers are able to understand the dangers of increased time on social media.

“A 2016 study of more than 450 teens found that greater social media use, nighttime social media use and emotional investment in social media — such as feeling upset when prevented from logging on — were each linked with worse sleep quality and higher levels of anxiety and depression,” said the Mayo Clinic staff.

Time on these platforms can also be damaging to one’s self-confidence and self-satisfaction. With increased consciousness – about themselves and others – teenagers can grow uncomfortable in their own skin and begin to wish they were someone else. The more research I have done, the more I have realized that the lives that are portrayed on social media are not actually real. What I mean by this is the way we see the photos are not actually how they appear. Today, people are able to edit photos extensively. People can run thousands of different filters over their image, photoshop aspects of the photo and even cut out certain parts of the image. With such an altered photo, viewers are setting up false expectations for themselves. There is no way you can compete with a photoshopped person. 

I struggle most with this aspect when I am on Instagram. At least when using Snapchat I am communicating with people directly, but with Instagram usage it is more about looking at people’s posts. I have no way of knowing what is behind each image I come across. Sure, it is great to see what my friends are doing and explore influencers’ feeds, but there is no need to obsess over how great someone’s feed looks, and there is certainly no need to try and recreate it. I don’t want to spend my life posing for the perfect picture. I want to live these experiences fully without the pressure to present how perfect I am or how perfect my daily experiences are.

During my week off social media, I wasn’t pressured to be on my phone and my screen time decreased. I didn’t have to worry about responding with a blank screen to people I don’t really know. My mood increased and I was able to sleep better. I even read two books. But alas, my week came to an end. I had to go back to reality. Or did I? I knew that I enjoyed the freedom of not having to look at other people’s Instagram accounts to see all of the cool things they were doing, watch meaningless hours of TikTok or send blank pictures back and forth on Snapchat.  So, why not integrate limited time on these platforms? Instead of deleting all of my accounts permanently, I was able to put screen time limits on each of these apps and prevent notifications from them as well. I encourage you to go a week without your most-used apps. Take a break from them and prove to yourself that you can live without them. My time on social media and my phone has decreased dramatically, and I am happier because of it.