Social Media Cleansing

I’ll be honest. I used to not understand the appeal of social media and Instagram. When Twitter and status bars came on the scene years ago, I mocked the idea of “updating” people on my every move. It seemed silly and pointless to me. Instant messenger away messages with a moody quote or song lyric seemed the most transparent I needed to ever be. But let’s back up for a minute. When I went off to college Facebook was still in the infant stages. Zuckerberg had just created the platform a year or so prior and it was such an odd and seemingly unnecessary tool to need. The only reason I ever had a profile was because a friend down the hall set one up for me. After awhile I saw the appeal in keeping up with friends who went elsewhere after graduation, as well as connecting with all of the new people I was meeting. Facebook quickly felt like IM’s older, more mature sibling, and I began to see some benefits to having it. Fast forward years later and many phases of various Facebook tools came and went. Stickers, poking people, embedded drawings, feeds, groups, etc., it seemed that it was constantly evolving and changing. However despite all of the cool features, it started to get cumbersome. The positive connecting with childhood friends started to get overshadowed and tainted. I witnessed many “discussions” quickly turn into streams of ugly comment and dig after ugly comment and dig. Divisions within groups of people quickly were noted and blatant even when you didn’t seek them out. The only redeeming qualities I saw in it was catalogs of my pictures from years past, as well as keeping up with birthdays. It just had begun to feel like a toxic space, and I wasn’t sure it was for me anymore.

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If it isn’t bringing me joy, substance, or perspective, it has got to go.

So, I made the decision to ditch Facebook a few years ago. When I first left Facebook, I thought it would only be for a week or so. Now it has been three years, and I’ve never looked back. Coming to the realization that if it isn’t bringing me joy, substance, or perspective, it has got to go – was a healthy decision and one I do not regret.

After the last year of being home and isolated from friends and normalcy, I felt as though I had developed a very bad, very unhealthy, scrolling habit that had filled the void of such social engagements and relationships. When we would wind down for the evening I found myself picking up phone, opening IG, and scrolling to see what I had “missed”. Did I miss anything monumental, ever? – nope. But it had became such a habit that I wasn’t even thinking about it when I did it.

Good riddance, and goodbye.

While I tried to focus less on my personal account and more on my public one for this space, it started to feel like a competition with major cases of FOMO that were truly unfounded on my part. I also realized I had picked up a wide variety of accounts that I did not get anything out of. I cringed at their “just wanted to hop on real quick,” or “have a great deal for you, but no this isn’t an ad…” spiels. It made me feel like I was never doing enough and when I did, it was never right. Again, the feeling of “what do I really get out of this?” began to creep in. So, my first step in my cleanse was unfollowing a great deal of those extraneous accounts. Good riddance, and goodbye. If they weren’t people I cared to keep in touch with or I felt gave me perspective in some way, they were out.

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“Scrolling is the new smoking.”

The real moment I decided this was a break that needed to happen, was when I saw a quote posted that simply said, “scrolling is the new smoking”. Bam. That hit me right in the face. I definitely don’t want to develop any habits that are toxic or unhealthy, so a cleanse felt necessary. As luck would have it, Lent was fast approaching when I came to this conclusion and because of that I made the decision to give it up. While I logged on for a few minutes here or there, I made a a point of really trying not to and refrained from posting anything.

Forty days later, and how did it feel? Was it hard? Tough? Or just what my soul needed? Well, the first day I had to remind myself several times that IG and I were taking a break until Easter. However after that first day, I barely thought twice about it. As a friend and I had discussed at the beginning of my cleanse, not using the app opened time and energy to foster those true, authentic, real life friendships and human connections. No longer would watching IG stories count as my keeping up with friends and family. Texts, emails, phone calls, virtual and outdoor hangouts, were the goal instead.

While this won’t be something I will probably give up forever, it was beneficial to have a reset in my social media habit. Honestly, I barely missed it, and am coming back with a new perspective and personal boundaries set in place. If you’re also feeling like the shine and sparkle has dulled, try taking a step back and reassess – I promise you won’t regret it.

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