My New Year diet: no social media.

No Facebook. No Twitter. No Snapchat. No Instagram.

It’s no secret that social media is to people born from 1994 onwards what the radio is to people born in the 30s. What TV is to people born in the 60s. A necessity, in other words. But is it really? My nosy self decided to find out.

Something I’ve always said to myself is oh god, I couldn’t go without Twitter, which is exactly why I made myself go without Twitter. I didn’t have Twitter when I was 8 and I’m fairly certain I was a much happier person aged 8. Of course, other variables come into the mix (a social conscience, to name one) but the invention and explosion of social media probably has something to do with my diminishing happiness too.

Midway through my week challenge I coincidentally came across this article about the connection between depression in young people and their usage of social media. I found it just scrolling down the Guardian app, as I can no longer scroll down my twitter feed or instagram. Was this meant to happen? (No, probably not. I imagine there’s articles like this all the time, but you just have to be off social media to see them).

Anyway, what’s the point of an (anti-)social experiment without discussing the finds? Here are mine:

  • I had time to read Lord of the Rings – which definitely says something about time management. Okay. This is kind of fake news. I had already started it but I completely stalled when it got to Return of the King – the final two ‘books’ in the series. But I did it.
  • I became Stevie Wonder – no, not blind. I got back into learning the keyboard. Piano is something I’ve always wanted to master and I got a new keyboard for Christmas (wow, already last year…). I’d often find myself feeling like I have to record myself once I learned a new piece, but with no Snapchat to distract me and send me down a Buzzfeed quizzes spiral, I couldn’t do this. Thank God.
  • I actually did my uni coursework – in one library session I wrote just over 800 words for an essay. I know that if I had twitter on my phone to just quickly check, that 800 word count would have taken about 2 more hours to reach. I’m definitely going to avoid social media in the future when I have important things coming up.
  • I finished top of the weekly leaderboard in my Duolingo club – again, as it’s one of the only apps to distract me now. I’d been putting off German revision for a while because my English essays are due before my German exam takes place, so I’d prioritised. But now, in my essay breaks, I can turn to Duolingo because it is actually fun to beat a load of strangers at getting the most XP to practise a language you enjoy. 15 minutes with Duo, I wouldn’t say no (Morrissey, 1983)
  • I put myself under the microscope less – by this I mean I have looked in the mirror and judged random parts of my appearance less. We’ve all been there – seen a photo of someone on social media, usually a complete stranger, and it’s made us look down at our own body and think ???????????? Why put yourself through that? If you find yourself doing that remove the source from your life. Unfollow that account, remove that favourited tag. Look at the world instead. Put down the microscope and pick up the telescope.
  • Living in the here and now is the only way to be – last year I had a similar revelation about how important it is to be in the present. Deleting social media temporarily, or just edging away from it, is the best way to make yourself be in the here and now. No more caring about what someone is doing all the way in Dubai (if you’re reading this in Dubai, no more caring about what someone is doing in the U.K.), no more comparing your life to that of a random privileged American teen, no more anything. The phrase ignorance is bliss was coined for the social media ignorants.

After this week, I can happily say that social media is no longer a vital part of my life. Although I’ll be back on it, I now know not only that I can trust myself to take breaks from it, but that it’ll help improve my mood and productivity too.


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