Disconnect to reconnect

What I learned from staying off social media


*Disclaimer: I am currently active on Instagram for educational purposes, such as running the account for the school yearbook.

Before social media made its way into people’s everyday life, the world was a much simpler place. Children were not given a phone whenever they were bored, but instead went outdoors, teenagers became friends in person, adults did not feel the need to post about their lives to prove their success, and no one depended on the internet to determine their social status.

Nowadays, more times than we should, we take out our phone and snap a picture of something that we find amusing, frightening, beautiful, etc. What is it that makes reaching for our phone the moment something happens an instinct? When did sharing everything with others online become a habit? The thing is, most people don’t realize this is what they are doing, at least I know I didn’t.

It wasn’t until four months ago, after debating whether to take a break from social media or not, that I finally decided to temporarily disable my Instagram account and log out of my Snapchat. It was difficult to bring myself to do this is because I was afraid of cutting ties with many people and I didn’t want to feel left out from everything that happens online. Also, it is strange for a teenager to not be active on social media.

The first few weeks after I made this decision were difficult to adjust to. I had the habit of reaching for my phone and scrolling through my Instagram feed, but all of a sudden I had nothing to scroll through. I would end up playing a game, watching a movie, or listening to music as an alternative to using social media. This lasted for only a month, which truly surprised me because I thought I would still feel the same today, I actually thought I would be back online by now.

Having no reason to constantly check my phone, I began doing things that I never knew I enjoyed doing. I discovered so many new songs and artists, I bought a paint set and created paintings inspired by things and people I saw in real life, I learned how to cook new recipes, and I even found it fun to wrestle my brother, things that I wouldn’t have done because I would have spent all that time online instead.

The more I took part in these activities, the less I worried about what people were posting online. I wasn’t interested in seeing people’s plate of food, their relationships, trips that seem fun online but in reality weren’t so great, or anything for that matter. I came to the realization that living every moment for myself and not sharing it with the world brings so much meaning and happiness into my life. I now understand why it is said that the best moments in one’s life don’t make it to social media, it’s definitely true.

Most importantly, deleting social media improved my mental health and self-esteem. Having so much more time to focus on myself instead of taking time out of my day to focus on others’ life, gave me the chance to focus on schoolwork and on the person I want to become. These past four months opened my eyes to everything I was missing out on, from completing all my schoolwork on time to building friendships in real life. I was worried that I would cut ties with people, but that is not what happened at all. Sure, I haven’t spoken to a few acquaintances, but I am still close with my best friends and family, who are the people that don’t care whether I have a social media life or not. I learned that what matters most is seen through our eyes and not through a phone screen. It’s time for more social and less media.