Once upon a time there was a girl who spent her day scrolling her heart out. Twenty minutes scrolling on her phone before she got out of bed, scrolling while she made her coffee, scrolling again while she waited for the water in the shower to heat up. She scrolled at the grocery store waiting to check out, she’d scroll when she parked her car, she scrolled and scrolled until her little heart could scroll no more. One day she realized something needed to change, so she decided to begin a journey of a social detox, and her life dramatically changed for the better. Hi! I’m that girl! I’m the girl who spent whole days of her life aimlessly scrolling, and I’ve found a better way to live my life. I recently took a “social media break” or did a social media detox and have lived to tell about it.
When I mentioned to people that I was on a social detox, I usually got the same responses.
- I wish I could do that
- OMG I spend way too much time on my phone too.
How Much Screen Time?
People GUARD their screen time number like they do their weight. When I tell people the average person spends 3 hours and 27 minutes on their phone, they immediately reply with embarrassment, “Yeah, I spend wayyyyy more time than that.”
What I have learned is no one actually admits to the amount of screen time they spend. So I’m breaking the stigma, at the height of my scrolling addiction my iPhone told me I was spending roughly 6-7 HOURS on my phone a day. Go back re-read that, that’s bananas guys. What is your number?
Looking back, that number does make sense. My “job” heavily relies on my posting and interaction on social media (aside from Normal Life Mom stuff).
A normal day on social media looked like this…
Wake up, reply to any comments from instagram and Facebook that I got overnight, and then get stuck in some sort of feedback loop where next thing I know I am looking at an old neighbor’s cousins pictures of their brand new chicken coop. Boom, I’m an hour in.
Now I’m making breakfast and I realize I have new Facebook notifications, man I’m so popular, let’s check those bad boys out, twenty-minutes here, 10 minutes or so there while I stuff breakfast down the hatch.
Ok, put the phone down. How long has it been since I checked my phone? Let’s check, oh a new notification, what now?
I’d put the kids down for a nap, and then my guilty pleasure would be to aimlessly scroll through social media for about 20 minutes, except it was always much, much longer than that.
More afternoon scrolling, more scrolling while my kids ate snacks (guys they eat a LOT of snacks, which means thats a lot of screen time), and then finally after a long day of on and off scrolling, I’d post up in bed where I would do my most serious scrolling sesh. I usually lay down pretty early (around 8pm) but don’t typically fall asleep till 10-10:30. I could get a solid 2.5 hour scroll session in, before I finally dozed off to sleep, and woke up and did it all again. IT WAS EXHAUSTING.
Why I Left Social Media
One day I had a wake up call. My daughter was begging me to set things up so she could paint. Anybody who has ever set up a paint “studio” for their kid, knows that takes some serious effort. Paint, brushes, paper, and a constant eye so the paint doesn’t get everywhere. She was so deep into her painting, while I sat perched up in the corner chair. “Mom look at this?”- she’d gleefully cheer for acknowledgement of her painted mess.
“Uh huh, that’s great.” as I had one eye on her, and one eye on my phone. I wasn’t even working, just sitting there scrolling my little heart out. I finally came to someone I follow on Instagram who literally broadcasts her entire day out for the world to see. Here I was clicking, and flipping and scrolling and watching HER daughter paint on Instagram stories, while my perfect little kiddo was begging for my attention as I watched her paint.
Is this real life? Is this what the world has come to? I’m virtually watching someone else’s kid I don’t even know, paint on Instagram, while my own; is paining in front of me. I felt dirty and kind of gross, so I put my phone down for the rest of the day.
Social Media Habits
I started really paying attention to my social media habits. Everytime I picked up my phone I started asking myself, Why are you picking up your phone? What purpose or need is it serving right now? Could it wait? Did it matter?
Then I wanted to dig deeper, so I bought two books.
I read Digital Minimalism which I HIGHLY recommend. It dives deep to figure out how and why we as a society got here, endlessly scrolling and grossly obsessed with our digital devices.
The concepts and basic ideas of the book really resonated with me. He explains that our phones are like little slot machines. At some point in time we “won.” Maybe we posted a picture of ourselves or our kids and had tons of positive comments and an exorbitant amount of likes, and for some brief moment in time we felt REALLY good about ourselves, we “won digitally,” got a huge high from “winning.”
Then the addiction forms, from that point on we are forever trying to recreate that high we got from social media. So we pop on to our phones for a small “hit” but instead find something negative, maybe it’s a political post from Uncle Jim that makes us feel icky, or a harmless post from our best friend where we immediately start comparing our life to theirs. Now we feel “bad” so we refresh the feed, in search of the high we need, but instead we are stuck in a “feedback loop from hell” where we are constantly scrolling and searching for the high that we will never get.
How to Take A Social Media Detox
The first step in doing a social media detox for me, was decluttering my Facebook feed. I spent a long time going through and removing myself from groups that no longer served me, and unfollowed or removed people I was friends with that I didn’t know, or did not serve any real value in my life. The idea was when/if I came back to social media, I’d have a fresh slate to work with. Then I removed Facebook from my phone.
The next day, I posted that I was taking a break on Instagram and Facebook (Normal Life Mom Page). I gave myself one last day to scroll, and surf before I left. The next day, I logged out of my account(s), deleted the App from my phone and moved on.
What may be most shocking to some, is that Twitter was by far the hardest for me to delete. I have spent nearly a year curating a personal feed full of some of the brightest scientists, scholars, and bloggers. Twitter has become my main source of news gathering. I also knew I had become most addicted to the constant refreshing, so I deleted it too.
The first few days after deleting these social media apps, I realized how addicted I was. I was constantly picking up my phone because my brain was trained to do so, but there was nothing there so I was constantly refreshing the weather app. Then obsessively checking the time. It took about three days for my brain to finally realize, I broke up with my phone, and eventually I finally stopped checking.
Benefits of Deleting Social Media
Forty-two minutes. That is how much time I was spending on my phone when social media was deleted. One day I left for the grocery store and forgot my phone at home, which pre-detox would have had me in a state of panic.
The snozberries tasted like snozberries….. When I removed social media from my life, for the first time my brain felt really full of my own thoughts, opinions, ideas and beliefs. I could see things clearly, and on my own.
I slept better
I actually FELT happier and healthier
I started connecting with my kids more
I felt less anxious
I started reading
I started focusing on working out and taking care of myself
I felt alive
When I left social media, I was not going to bed angry or upset about Uncle Jim’s political posts, or listening to people arguing about literally everything. I was not reading negative comments first thing in the morning setting my day off on the wrong foot. I started watching my own kids paint in real life as I sipped coffee on the sidelines.
Did I Miss Social Media?
Not REALLY. As you can see above I had so many positives. A few things I missed:
- I was invited to a birthday party on Facebook and didn’t RSVP. A friend seemed a little short with me and I couldn’t figure out why, UNTIL I realized she was mad about a birthday party I didn’t attend, because I did not know about it. When I explained I had gone off of social media she TOTALLY understood, but it was an awkward conversation.
- I am allergic to mustard which is extremely difficult to navigate. I am part of an allergy group where we do some MAJOR digging on ingredients of certain products to ensure they are safe to eat (because mustard does not need to be labeled on packaging as an ingredient). Sometimes when I am at the grocery store I cross reference the group on Facebook to see if a new product is safe or not, so that was hard not having that.
- I use Facebook to check to see the store hours or if they are running specials and it was hard to find out some BASIC info about businesses without using Facebook.
- I am part of a buy/sell/trade group- I find lots of amazing toys for my kids, or all sorts of different treasures, so I have no idea if anything I missed!
My Social Media Future
Ok, great I did it, I survived six weeks with out social media in my life, but I am a blogger and run a social media site and KIND of need it.
Facebook-I have made the decision to permanently delete Facebook from my phone, probably forever. Due to the nature of my job, I really can’t leave Facebook forever. I installed a browser extension into Chrome on my laptop, so my Facebook feed has been wiped away when I log in. That way I am not distracted by the noise. I intentionally have to know what I am looking for.
Twitter is absolutely my biggest time sucker, for the time being, this App too will be removed from my phone. I’ve decided that after the kids go to bed, I can log in through the browser, set a timer for thirty minutes, and scroll my heart out. Once the timer goes off, that’s it. I also made my password obnoxiously long and really and hard to remember, so I REALLY have to want to log in.
Instagram. Oh, Instagram I love and hate you. It’s the one platform that sucks the most life out of me, and I haven’t quite figured out how to navigate around it. While many things have changed and you can now access your feed, messages, and other stats directly from desktop, posting and uploading stories are limited to the App. Instagram is an important component to my blog, and my other jobs; so I recently re-downloaded the App and have decided to place a time limit directly on my phone so it alerts me when I have spent more than 45 minutes cumulative on the App. Once I get the notice, that’s it.
So now you know why I am not clicking and liking as much as I used to. I’ll follow up in a few months to see what’s changed with my social media habits.