Lessons from two and a half years without social media

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Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

This post is for anyone who is considering quitting social media, curious about deleting their social media accounts, and/or is just intrigued about what life is like without social media in the 21st century.


Roughly two and a half years ago, sometime in June 2017, I deleted my last standing social media account, Twitter.

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It’s time for a digital detox

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Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

These past few weeks, I gave myself permission to cave into my digital addiction while going through many unpleasant life changes.

Practicing digital wellness requires mindfulness, discipline, and dedication, which I felt I didn’t have the energy for. So, I held on tightly to my phone and binged on the internet day after day to escape the discomfort of dealing with my reality.

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The internet provided an easy and fast escape from my emotions.

I unblocked Safari. I binged on articles, blogs, forums, and YouTube videos for hours. I stayed up all night on my phone until I fell asleep from exhaustion. I relapsed to being an information junkie.  

My phone became an emotional crutch, dutifully providing comfort and escape, one article (and another inspiring blog post!) at a time.

I wouldn’t have been inspired to write this post if it didn’t dawn on me yesterday that I’m experiencing physical effects from my excessive digital use. 

My eyes feel strained. I feel lethargic. I have constant minor headaches. I feel aimless if I’m not glued to a screen. I can’t fall asleep without my phone. Few of the many reasons I have been practising digital wellness for the past few years. 

I knew it was time for a digital detox.

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Three digital wellness apps I use to tame my digital addiction

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Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

Isn’t it ironic that there are apps designed to help us navigate our addiction to the digital world? Fight fire with fire, I guess.

Anyway, as mentioned in previous posts (here for instance), it is entirely impossible for me to use willpower or self-control to manage the time and energy I spend on mindless online activities.

The brain wants to avoid discomfort as much as possible so it will coax us back to the couch, our screens and comfort.  In comparison to digital distractions, everything else seems to require far too much effort.

It is simply too enticing to be idle and scroll through easy entertainment for instant gratification than to get up and do things that require effort, no matter how beneficial they may be.

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The joy of missing out

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Photo by Irina on Unsplash

A while back, I was at a nightclub slightly drunk and perfectly content to be in an establishment that encourages bad decisions when I experienced the joy of missing out.

My favorite songs blasted out of the speakers at deafening levels while bodies pushed against one another and drinks were spilled at an alarming rate.

At some point, between dancing and feeling good, I noticed some people on their phones scrolling through pictures and watching videos.

A thought occurred to me.

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I would hate to be bombarded with information about what other people, most of whom I have probably never even met, were doing with their Saturday night while I’m in the middle of enjoying my evening.

I imagined watching my Snapchat feed, or Instagram story, of people who might have been dressed better, surrounded by more people, or doing anything else that indicated they were having a better time than I was.

I was instantly grateful to not have access to that. I enjoyed my night as it was, without comparison or feeling I missed out on something better, something more, somewhere else.

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Setting boundaries with technology

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Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

This post is inspired by a post on the Human Tech community forum titled, how I went offline (mostly).

In the post, the person offers four stages for going internet-free in most areas of our lives. The first stage they propose is to “establish a place for the internet.”

Simply put, set boundaries between yourself and the online world.

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Although I have come to the realization that digital tools aren’t the problem, it’s still important to establish routines and structures that help us avoid compulsively reaching for our devices, mindless browsing the internet, and engaging in online activities that bring minimal value to our life.

Setting boundaries can help us use these tools for their practical purposes, and not for escapism or to avoid real life.

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Demonizing the tool(s) is scapegoating

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Photo by Mel Baylon on Unsplash

Addiction, for the most part, is escapism.

Most addictions are the result of individuals trying to escape the unappealing realities of life, be it pain, loss, emotional turmoil and suffering. Pretty much anything can become an addiction, including alcohol, drugs, sex, food, gambling, and video games, if used excessively as a coping mechanism.

Are you looking to take back control of your time and attention?  SIGN UP HERE to receive my FREE weekly newsletter with 5 ideas to bring digital wellness to your daily life.

Continue reading “Demonizing the tool(s) is scapegoating”