Whether you love it or hate it, social media has become a focal point of our lives. The amount of hours we spend on it is quite extraordinary. Rock Out Stand Out’s Editor In Chief Lotty Whittingham tells you her account when she spent thirty days off it.
Note: This is neither criticising or praising use of social media, this is a reflection of my experiences of logging out of social media.
I had been meaning to do this for a long time now, especially after the events of 2020. I was sick of seeing constant negativity; the breaking news appearing every five minutes telling us how we are all doomed and who/what is causing the latest outrage comes to mind.
I also found myself slipping back into old habits. I was feeling jealous of what other people had despite not wanting it before, worrying about an innocent post being misinterpreted, becoming more cynical even angry and comparing myself to others. A huge life change and the acceptance of these feelings made me realise it was time to take a break.
My final thoughts on this detox are at the bottom of the article if you wish to skip to those. For those who want to know full details of what happened over the thirty days, read on.
Yesterday, I took the plunge and deleted any social media app on my phone. This way I wouldn’t be tempted to log in. The only communication apps I had were Messenger and WhatsApp. Today is the first real day without social media and I already feel free. It was weird this morning as first thing as normally I would be scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. I was surprised at how much more time I had. I used this time to tidy some more of my bedroom that desperately needed doing. It was also actually nice to sit in the lounge with a cup of tea without my phone and in complete silence.
A key technological thing I noticed was my phone battery. After diving in and out of social media for a couple of hours in the morning, I find my battery goes down to 80% during that time. It’s at 80% by the evening. A few times, I was tempted to re-download the apps and check what was going on. What if someone had sent me something that I needed to see? I also found I didn’t know what to do with my hands a lot of the time as they are usually typing something or scrolling through the feed. If I can get through these first few days, I can do this.
I turned my phone off earlier than usual last night. I turned it off at half nine rather than right before I go to sleep at half 10 – 11. It had been off for at least half an hour before I went to sleep and I drifted off quite easily. I had a headache last night and this morning, was this a withdrawal symptom?
That temptation of wanting to re-download the apps has returned, especially wanting to check if certain people were doing OK and seeing what they were up to. The anxiety is very strong and hard to ignore at this stage; heavy chest, shortness of breath and jumping to all sorts of conclusions that can be cleared with two minutes of communication. I am even starting to doubt whether I can make the thirty days.
However, during the day I am finding I am reaching for my phone less and not feeling the urge to log on to any social networking. I know I need to stay strong; it’s only been a couple of days.
This is the first day I am not worrying about what’s being posted on social media and it feels great. The thoughts come up but they simply pass through rather than take a hold on me. This is extremely refreshing. There is a phrase called the ‘three day hump’ that is often used to describe the first three days of quitting something addictive and harmful, these first three days are often the most difficult. I am on the last day of this and I am slowly feeling better. I am still unsure what to do with my hands when I hold my phone yet I am reaching for my phone less as the days go by. To create some distance, I am leaving my phone in a separate room. I have also been leaving it at home when I leave the house for my daily walk.
Only today, I realised I needed to schedule posts to appear for my upcoming podcast this Saturday and I don’t trust anyone with my log in details at the moment, so I logged in. Yes, the big red notifications bubble saying twenty plus in the corner caught my eye, but I didn’t click on it or scroll through the News Feed. I didn’t want to get sucked in. I went straight to the Business Suite and luckily you can schedule the Instagram posts through there too so one less website to log into. I logged out as soon as possible once this was completed.
Even though that was solely what I was doing on social media, it still feels like I cheated. Fortunately, my podcast is a monthly thing so my detox will be over by then and I can log in to post without feeling guilty. I also have plans in place if anything else relating to this website needs shared on social media.
I am noticing my productivity levels have increased and I am lot more focused on tasks at hand. I am also finding myself becoming a lot sharper in the mind.
I don’t know why but today kept thinking of that music video from my personal favourite band Nightwish. They released a song called Noise nearly a year ago and the music video is truly fascinating and very eye opening. As you can see, it shows us how we use social media to post what we want people to see. Someone called it posting their golden carrots and they’re right. It might look like someone has it all together and everything seems perfect but we never know that for sure, we don’t know what goes on behind the cameras and posts. It’s difficult to realise and it’s something we all keep forgetting, I know I can forget this at times but it’s extremely important to remember this.
These particular lyrics from the song Noise stuck out when talking about this sort of thing:
“Now you’re a star, Vain avatar, Feeding the beast, In your loud Egoland”
“You have become, Tool of a tool, Digital ghouls, Telling you to shut up and dance”
“By a carrion, Sad hologram, Lost in the maze, The real and human feel”
I am extremely apprehensive about the weekend as I won’t have my day job to keep me distracted from reaching for my phone. Let’s see though.
One of things most of us worry about when taking time off social media is whether it will effect our business in a negative way. Today, I had a notification to tell me that my website received the most visitors it has for a long time. This was after a few days off social media, this encouraged me to keep going.
I had a really strange dream last night, it involved seeing unanswered messages and ones that had me worried or scared. You know those dreams that are so vivid that they could almost be real? Well, it was something like that. I even thought I had installed the social media apps again, so imagine my relief when I woke up to find it was all in the mind. Was this an urge to download them again disguised as a dream? Maybe, but that temptation disappeared throughout the course of the day.
So far, it turns out I didn’t need to be worried about having more free time to check into social media. Today was a brilliant day. During the course of the pandemic, I have been helping my grandparents by taking my granddad’s guide dog Fergus for long walks and runs off the lead. I took him somewhere brand new today, I had learned from BBC’s 12 Puppies And Us that taking them to new places helps with stimulation so I decided to try it. I took him somewhere I used to cycle with my dad when I was a child so it was great to be back there again. Fergus also enjoyed himself running over the field and through the woods.
I was also able to complete some work for the website today which I know would have been prolonged if I was still logged into social media. Without this distraction, I was able to stay focused.
It’s been my first week off social media and I feel refreshed. It feels great not to be worrying about what people are posting. There’s something wonderful about not always having an online presence. With social media, it can feel like you need to put on a show all the time, it’s nice to have some time off. I definitely don’t want to go back to ‘being on’ all the time.
Day 8 – Day 16
Nothing really significant happened on these days. The only things I can think of are that I am more productive when working and writing for the website. I think it’s due to all the extra time I now appear to have. I am also slowly formulating a plan for when the detox is over, I certainly don’t want to slip back in those toxic habits. I have also found my mental health has improved immensely over the time I haven’t been on social media.
Just over the half way point now. I am starting to feel apprehensive about the end of the detox nearing. I am starting to form the finer details in my plan when I start to log back in. I know that after my detox, I will only use social media for Rock Out Stand Out business. Before the detox, Facebook was the app I used and spent the most time on. Therefore I know for sure that I won’t be re-downloading that.
Day 18 – Day 29
Nothing significant happened on these days. The thing that happened was that feeling of dread and worry. I am actually starting to feel nervous about going back onto social media. I haven’t missed it at all, I have loved the feelings of not being on it. I am so worried about slipping back into old habits that I don’t want to go back to.
The last day
Re-downloading the apps to my phone was a nerve wracking experience but I knew the longer I left it the harder it would be. So far, I have managed to stick to my plan but this is only the first day logging back in. Let’s hope I can stick to this.
It’s a few days since I have logged back into social media. I honestly thought that I was going to start slipping back into my old ways and feel the need to check my phone every five minutes to see if my post got any notifications. I am very happy to say that I have not felt this urge since logging back into social media and it feels great not to worry. I also don’t feel the need to take my phone everywhere with me and I also don’t feel the need to try to rush home to log into social media. That feels so great.
I don’t why I didn’t take a break from social media sooner. It was actually amazing to take this break and I recommend it. I didn’t miss it at all and it was great to not be on all the time. It’s also great to have more time in my day that was taken up by obsessively checking social media, I use this time to relax or do something productive. I feel the best I have ever felt. I have left some tips below if you wish to do this social media break.
Thinking of doing the same? Here’s what I learnt and I hope these tips help.
- Make a plan. Especially if you need to schedule certain posts for your business or that important client messages you on a social media platform.
- If you feel this is needed for a piece of mind, tell your close friends and/or followers about this detox and where you will be available to contact if necessary.
- Uninstall social media apps on your phone, tablet and any other devices. DON’T JUST HIDE THEM IN THE CORNER OF YOUR DEVICE.
- Log out of any social media websites on your PC/laptop.
- Place your devices on silent.
- Look for tips and/or challenges to help you detox. For me it was videos and different articles like this one here.
- Have a plan in place for after the detox. I know I don’t want to slip back into those old habits so I made the plan that I will only log in for website related work and that I wouldn’t download Facebook again.
Before ending this article, I want share a video with you I watched before taking the detox. It provides some useful tips and ones that I have used to help with the aftermath of the detox.
Words: Lotty Whittingham