Social media detox is deliberate elimination of social media from your life. Most people do it for 30 days, but I did it for complete 9 months straight. More than a brief stint, it was a complete transformation for me. This post throws light on the reason why I took this step, the experience and impact it made on my life.
I have always been an advocate of Digital wellbeing. However, little did I care about this topic until the pandemic hit the world. As our Honorable PM, Mr. Modi addressed the nation on 22nd March and dropped that our country is going under a total lockdown, most of us were left bewildered. While others consciously enforced some decisions on them for making the most of this time, I was with the majority this time. I decided to go with the flow. And very soon, I reached to a point where I was waking up, working for office, browsing social media and sleeping. I am not exaggerating here. That was my exact routine for first few days of lockdown until I realized that this is detrimental to my emotional and physical health. So what are the reasons I chose a path of Social media detox?
1. Fighting FOMO:
FOMO is real guys. I really wanted to fight the fear of missing out. With social gatherings coming to a total halt, I really missed my lunch conversations with my colleagues, hanging out with my friends in the evening etc. Therefore, I my social media usage, went out of control. Every other minute, I found myself skimming through stories on Instagram and Facebook. Surprisingly, I had never been much of a social media power user any way. Therefore, I wanted to pull the plug on these newly forming habits.
2. Increased Screen Time:
If I was awake for 16 hours, I would be in front of some kind of a screen for 15 hours out of it. I felt pain in my eyes when I tried to asleep. The worst part is that I didn’t realize initially that this could be due to screen abuse. Also, I felt so hollow for some reason. My brain always kept on looking for more. Every ‘swipe down to refresh’ was like a heroin shot for a junkie.
3. Time Wastage:
And of course with all this, I had no time left to do anything meaningful. I spent all the time on social media or Coronavirus news. Imagine having so much time at your disposal that you don’t even know where to use it. I was wasting the most valuable resource I had.
Initially I thought that this may be because of anxiety. All of us were in a difficult situation and Coronavirus news haunted us all day. What I didn’t realize was that I was getting no exercise and was glued to my screen the entire time. Therefore, I needed to take a leap of faith to streamline my sleep cycle.
The Nudge and Withdrawal:
Luckily, it just took me about a couple of weeks to realize the gravitas of the situation. One morning, I was checking out the social media in the washroom. (Guilty 🙋♂️) It was 5 AM in the morning and I had slept around 2PM the previous night. I had a severe headache and while rubbing my eyes (after sanitizing my hands of course), I suddenly looked into the mirror.
I was so shocked to see myself, that I went into introspection mode immediately. And before coming out of the washroom, I had deleted, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat.
I’ll be honest here, initially it was tough. Withdrawal symptoms kicked in pretty soon. I would just unlock my phone, in a hope of a notification, and repeated this for gazillion times a day. This went on for a week.
Week 2: The settle down. I tried to look out for newer avenues to spend my time. More on it in a while. In the beginning, my screen time didn’t come down. Although FOMO started bothering me lesser with each passing day, but exposure to the screen was still a concern. I browsed 9gag for hours. Later, I had to put time limit restrictions to that as well.
Week 3: I felt really better. I felt independent if you may. My spouse used to give me certain updates on our common social circle and I felt really proud in saying that “I don’t know, I don’t care.” I used my FOMO to my advantage and gave up on all unnecessary updates. In this situation as well, Memes were my best friends (but only for 1 hour a day).
Months passed and I realized what a time killer social media can be. Of course I couldn’t go in the past to fix the things but I had laid out a clear plan for the future.
Since I was NOT constantly fed by what others are wearing, eating, doing to beat the pandemic blues, I did not feel bad about myself and the situation. There was no benchmark that I could set for hating my life. As an example, the fact that I couldn’t be with my parents in these testing times bothered me a lot when I saw others on social media. However, I came to terms with it once I stopped getting those updates.
I felt that I had much more thought clarity and was more present in every situation. Earlier, I used to browse my phone while talking to my wife and she hated it. Now I know why. This clarity may be a placebo in effect but I am happy to live with it forever.
I had freed up almost 4-5 hours a day from my schedule. And I started to put all that time in learning.
I started learning Salesforce on Udemy. Despite being a Business Analyst, I can perform basic Salesforce Administrator tasks now. This helped me a lot at work.
A few days later, I picked up the habit of catching up on personal finance. I would spend hours reading articles on personal finance, learning about stock markets. I even completed a 1 month course on Varsity app for technical and fundamental analysis of stock markets.
I developed a new interest towards economics. Exploring that linkage between personal finance, stock markets and economics was an experience of a lifetime. The best part is that it won’t end any time soon. It is a process that I initiated and is likely to stay with me for long.
Of course I now had ample of time to pick up and pursue a hobby. The blog you are reading is an outcome of this entire exercise only. Apart from this, I now spent a lot more time talking to my friends and colleagues over a call. These knowledge exchange sessions helped me grow a lot during pandemic. So I was more social by being less social. Ironic right?
I have NEVER been a fan of exercising my entire life. However, what I realized is that I don’t get to walk any more. While I was in office, I did manage to complete 7000 steps a day. But at home, that is just not possible any more. Therefore, I started using cure.fit for my daily exercise. This sudden realization won’t have hit me hard if I had continued watching cat videos on Instagram.
By no means I want to portray social media as an evil, in this article. Rather, it is our lack of self regulation, that ruins the balance. I believe a lot of people leveraged the surge in social media during lockdown to pump their businesses. 9 months down the line, I do use social media, but primarily to manage the pages driving traffic to my blog. I still try to inflict an immediate check on my behavior as soon as I hit timeline of my personal social media accounts. It is a conscious call I have to make each time.
In a nutshell, did this experience make me into a saint who has renounced all wordily possessions? NO
But was it any less? NO either. It was truly transformational in it’s true sense.
Have you given a thought to the exercise of social media detox? Let me know in the comments section below or you can hit me up on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you find this article useful, please consider sharing it on social media using the links below.