Let’s be real. I’m only wishing you a happy birthday because Facebook told me to.
If the statement above makes you as disappointed in society as it does for me, I write this article for you—for those that recognize social media as a tool, not a lifestyle. I’ve grown to notice the time that has seemingly disappeared on account of mindless scrolling. And, as someone who is constantly striving to be productive, I challenged myself to the ultimate test: uninstalling social media on my smartphone.
No, this is not one of those articles that talks about how social media is completely destroying society. And, no, I’m not going to try to convince you to rid your life of electronics and find inner peace in a forest or something.
Rather, I’d like to emphasize on the benefits of stepping away from the phone for a bit. I’ve learned that by simply accessing social media on desktop, my habits have changed for the better. Before we get into that, though, I feel that it is important to understand why I ultimately made the decision to uninstall my social media.
Social media affects us in ways we don’t realize.
Our patience is majorly impacted by having so much available at our fingertips. From answers, to communication, to entertainment, to shopping—we have little reason to seek very much outside of our phones. And, for these reasons, I fear for what human interaction will look like in a not-so-distant future.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project sums up a recent study about people under the age of 35 and the dangers of their hyperconnected lives: “Negative effects include a need for instant gratification and loss of patience.”
For the past few years, I’ve noticed myself becoming increasingly less patient. When I’m bored, I look to my smartphone to pass the time. When I feel uncomfortable in a crowd, I look to my smartphone as a crutch. When I want to connect with someone, I look to my smartphone to communicate instead of face-to-face interaction.
And I have gotten absolutely nothing from any of that.
I soon began to realize this:
I was too busy scrolling Twitter to notice the hobbies that I was neglecting.
Facebook Messenger replaced spending genuine, face-to-face time with friends.
Instagram painted these unrealistic standards for myself; and, I spent the time still scrolling instead of striving to better myself.
I began to live in my thoughts. Because, in my head, I was an amazing illustrator, despite the fact I rarely drew. In my head, my friends and I were fine—even though the last time I saw them in person was over three weeks ago. In my head, I was okay because I thought so, and somehow that made it kind of true.
In reality, I was a fake. And when I took the time to ask myself the almighty question of why, the answer was so obvious. Social media was strongly affecting the way that I lived my day-to-day life, and it had too much of an influence on how I viewed myself.
And, so, the decision was made.
It has been a month since I have uninstalled social media from my phone, and this is what I’ve gained:
Social media is about how you use it. This past month has been one of the most productive months for me to date, all while still utilizing the desktop versions of social media.
This excludes instagram, as this is only available through mobile app. I didn’t like this, though. I know myself, and having a single distraction would prove to be too much. So, I made a “business” instagram. Here, I post only my art and follow only those who inspire me—which brings me to my first point:
1) I learned healthy ways to use social media.
Without the distraction of my phone, my efforts were placed in writing, drawing, and other hobbies. While I enjoyed this, I yearned for someone to talk to about it.
Thus, I began to look on social media for reliable, positive connections. Instead of scrolling Twitter mindlessly, I reached out to others that I strive to be like. I gained so much from this alone. Friendships were made, advice was given and received, and I began to feel more motivated.
By simply using social media for productivity purposes on desktop, I felt more in control. Scrolling into oblivion wasn’t an issue anymore because I was too busy being excited about what to work on next.
2) I became more positive.
We don’t often notice it, but we often subconsciously compare ourselves. To be on social media platforms where everything is retouched and edited felt like I was constantly striving for something unattainable.
By solely using social media on desktop, my time on these platforms became a fraction of what they once were. I gained the time to focus on myself instead of looking to others. No longer did I feel like I was trying to reach a certain standard. Taking the time to truly disconnect and step away worked wonders.
3) “I don’t have the time” became a phrase of the past.
Think about it. If you added up all of the time you spent scrolling on your phone in a day, how much time would you have?
I would scroll as soon as my morning alarm went off. While waiting for the trolley. While walking to work. In the elevator. During lunch. On and off at my desk when my creative juices began to run low (which, by the way, scrolling only made it worse.) On my way home from work. When I was bored at home. Before bed.
And then I would still have the audacity to say that I don’t have the time for something.
I saved hours a day. My focus improved drastically. My mood was better on average. And, I didn’t have to worry about tripping over my own feet or getting hit by a car as I walked to work because my phone didn’t serve as a distraction anymore.
Instead of using my phone as a social crutch, I would spark a conversation with someone. While small talk is dreaded by many, such fascinating conversations can ensue if you let them. The most valuable of friendships are made at random; embrace the opportunity to talk to others, even if there is no intent other than being kind.
Bonus: you’ll feel damn good after.
All in all…
Social media has changed our world entirely, and there’s no doubting how powerful it is. We can effortlessly talk to people across the world, access a vast amount of information, and share our lives and talents in a way that make ourselves (and others!) happy.
Though, if you’re similar to myself, it can be just as much bad as it is good.
What classifies a good thing? This is unique to everyone, as it is dependent on their career, personal life, and what makes them happy. So—what makes you happy? Staying connected with friends in a way that is effortless? Facebook is fantastic. Connecting with people across the world? Twitter can be so beneficial. Sharing your life and creations with the world? Instagram is one of the most motivating platforms i’ve been on.
I encourage you to use them. Though, use them well. Use them as tools; use them to better yourself; use them on desktop if it makes you feel more in control; use them to make you feel good. Ultimately, that’s what social media is for—right?