Why We Signed Off Social Media For A Week
Last week was brutal in the best and worst ways. Full social schedule. Impossible workweek. Devastating global news—every single day.
Something had to give. And as I scrolled through my Facebook Feed, with a million other things on my plate, passing aimlessly through the usual engagement announcements, baby goat videos, and the Five Best Fat Burning Foods That I Need to Try Right Now, I thought: This. This is what has to give.
Since November 9th, I have been glued to my phone, desperately seeking a Wi-Fi connection at every turn. Twitter is my last sight before sleep, and Facebook is the first focus of a new day. And throughout the night, as I toss and turn, I’ll wake up my phone, too, to check for CNN breaking news updates… you know, just to make sure we didn’t start World War III while I was sleeping.
It’s a simple equation: The anxiety of an unstable political climate and growing global tensions + the expectation of constant connectivity to numerous social media accounts - frequent self care = hard and swift burnout. So, I took one week. One week away from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And, after seven days, I can say that I highly recommend it. There were, admittedly, things that I missed desperately, but more importantly, there were things that I didn’t miss and a lot of benefits—both expected and unexpected.
WHAT I DIDN'T MISS:
- The News. When I told my sister-in-law that I missed her Instagram story because I was off social media for the week, she responded, “That’s great! Although, it’s awfully privileged of you.” I snapped back, maybe too defensively, insisting, “it’s not privilege, it’s self-preservation!” No doubt, it’d be an exercise of privilege to ignore the headlines for a week. But, social media is not the news. It’s a great platform to discuss news and social movements, but it’s not the news. Period.
I didn’t miss anything newsworthy while I was signed off. Quite the opposite, actually—during a particularly devastating week of news, I felt focused. Instead of pulling up Facebook and sifting through a lot of noise for relevant articles, I went straight to the sources, reading the full New York Times homepage each morning, listening to entire NPR segments, and actually watching the evening news. I also spent more time verbally speaking to other people in real life about the week’s events rather than absorbing headlines and “liking” articles.
- Resistance Updates and Calls to Action. While I rely heavily on social media for Resistance updates, I wasn’t entirely uninformed during my time off. Instead of instantly deleting the mass e-mails that land in my inbox everyday, I actually read them! We are inundated by information from all angles; thus, I didn’t miss a beat.
THE EXPECTED BENEFITS:
- More Time. Not only did I have more time to read the pressing news and discuss the same with the people in my life, I had more time to do other things, too. I got way more done at work. Like, a lot more. It was really eye opening. I also spent ample time decompressing with friends and family, with my phone tucked away. I also took a relaxing bath and actually…. relaxed. I took a few long walks. Read a book. Plus, I completed the NYT crossword puzzle every single day. Sometimes, it’s the little things.
- Feeling Refreshed. For all the reasons stated above, I feel relatively “reset” and ready to take on another week.
THE UNEXPECTED BENEFITS:
- Better Battery Life. I went to bed each night with at least 40% battery life. Beat that.
- Fewer Headaches. Since the election, I have spent so much time staring at a screen that I literally had to get glasses for my tension headaches. That’s crazy.
- (More) Peaceful Sleep. Taking in media vomit right before bed has led to some pretty crazy and disturbing dreams lately. It’s enough that we are literally living a waking nightmare under the Trump Regime, but my increased consumption of social media meant that there was no solace even during sleep. While Trump still haunts my dreamscape, maybe it was slightly less so this past week?
- Unlearning Automatic Thumb Movements. For the first four days, every time I unnecessarily and habitually unlocked my phone, my thumb immediately and automatically launched Instagram. I’d catch myself and quickly shut it down, but before I realized it, I was opening the freaking app again. My body was literally rejecting my mind. By Day 5, I had unlearned the muscle memory and I was feeling better about myself.
WHAT I DID MISS:
- The Entire Kendal-Jenner-Pepsi-Ad Internet Throwdown. I could only imagine all the epic Tweets and memes. And it’s really not the same reading a journalist’s one-sided talking-to about the moment. I really wanted to be engaged in a dynamic discussion with diverse perspectives. Because that is was makes social media so beautiful, and so, so important.
- My “Friends”-er, My Favorite Social Media Accounts. Namely, Rogue POTUS Staff, Teen Vogue, Women’s March, and Linda Sarsour. I missed each of them like that old college friend that I don’t call often enough. But, seven days later, I finally called, and we spent some quality time catching up.
The moral of the story? Try it. You don't have to part ways forever, but a little break is always healthy. Sign off for a second. Take care of yourself.