I quit social media for a week
I nearly went insane
After seeing Insta-famous model Essena O’Neill’s dramatic exit from social media this week, I felt inspired.
The teen quit social media after re-captioning her Instagram posts to show her followers all is not how it seems in the networking bubble. Her ultimate point was that, by posting pictures solely for likes and constantly checking our follower count, we’re letting social media define us.
Some might call me brilliant (I’m looking at you, Mum) and some might call me insane. Either way, I decided to follow in O’Neill’s footsteps and deleted all the apps from my iPhone which are about obtaining likes, gaining followers or posting for others’ approval. That meant no more Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter.
And, let me tell you, it was tough.
Anyone who knows me understands I’m slightly obsessed with social media, although I would never admit this to myself. In fact, my flatmates have even developed a running joke about my “addiction”.
On the morning of day one, I woke up in a cold sweat, teeth chattering and limbs flailing. How was I going to survive? I check my accounts every day, like a morning newspaper, when I wake up. Would I have to read an actual real-life newspaper? Do they even still exist?
What stressed me out the most was the fact I rely on Facebook to keep up with my plethora of uni societies, as well as events in Glasgow, and, ahem, to occasionally stalk people from my hometown I’ve not spoken to in a billion years.
I wrote a quick status, notifying my friends of my brave endeavour and providing them with my number (do people even text anymore?) in case the university should burn down, the Fraser building food prices decrease, Viper stop opening on Wednesday nights or any similar emergency.
After five minutes had passed, I found myself, to my horror, wondering how many likes my status received. Was it one of those posts which people aimlessly scroll past, thinking, “Oh, there’s Jenna showing off on Facebook again”? Or would I become a celebrity among my virtual friends, encouraging them to question their own use of social media? It was evidently going to be a tedious seven days.
During my second day, I noticed I was twiddling my fingers like an old person at a bus stop. I was sitting in my flat, numbed by boredom, clearly experiencing some kind of social media withdrawal symptom. The end was definitely near. Before I could ask them to plan my inevitable funeral, my flatmates seemed concerned and asked me to come out for coffee.
What, I inwardly cried, was the point if I couldn’t show anyone on Snapchat my Pumpkin Spiced Latte or Insta the new Christmas red cups? Isn’t that the philosophical meaning of life, to have a perfectly autumn-themed Instagram feed? No?
Day three presented me with a distraction: work. Ah, finally a place where I can happily scan vegetables and quaint patisserie and not be distracted by the lurking desire to break my ban. Oh, how wrong I was. Three, yes THREE, of my once-Facebook friends asked me how “the whole no social media thing” was going. Oh, so it was a “thing” now? I started to become paranoid: what if people had been writing about me on Twitter? Maybe I was trending? It was only day three and I was on the verge of seeking professional help.
On day four, I genuinely did question my time left on the planet when I contracted a bout of nasty tonsillitis and had to go home for the weekend (curse you, university germs). It was undoubtedly the worst thing which could happen during my ban: sitting at home, ill, with only my family for company and no social media. Would I have to watch PG-rated films, engage in discussions about “how university is going” and – the unspeakable – play dust-covered board games?
In fact, something amazing happened. During day five and six – also known as day two and three of being a disease-ridden, sofa-bound invalid – I found myself doing some university work without the distraction of Facey or Insta. And I actually kind of enjoyed it. I then realised that, during my time at home, I hadn’t even felt a burning desire to cheat. I had a bit of an epiphany: do I even really rely on social media that much?
Which brings me to day seven and my ultimate conclusion. After participating in this trial, and after nearly dying of the bubonic plague, I’ve realised life is too short to be so obsessed with social media. I’m a new, enlightened me: one who will nobly watch PG-rated films, enthusiastically engage in family discussions and play mind-numbing board games.
Of course, I will be re-downloading the apps, I’m not insane. But I feel as if my time spent on them from here on out will decrease and my need to post “just to see how many likes I get” will be nearly eradicated.
It will be refreshing to go to an event in Glasgow, or even Viper on a Wednesday, and not feel the need to Snapchat the whole night. Who wants to see selfies of “me ‘n’ the gals” or vids of me cutting shapes to “Ignition” anyway? I may even refrain from tweeting a picture of my cheese-and-chips with the hashtag “#heaveninastyrofoambox”. And, I will try my very best not to create a perfectly themed autumn Instagram feed.
As for Facebook? I’m sorry, I can’t quite give up Mr Cian Twomey’s videos or Grumpy Cat memes, yet.