In the midst of a heavy work schedule, mountains of homework, and a few exams and quizzes to study for, I made the decision that a week of less distractions would be beneficial. So, at 7 p.m. last Thursday, I posted one last Snapchat story, and then proceeded to log out of my Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter accounts. Because some clubs that I’m involved in on campus use Facebook to post announcements, I limited myself to only check my feed twice a day. A week later, I’m here to share what I observed after seven days of being logged out:
1. People are on their phones ALL THE TIME. I cannot even tell you how many times I check my phone each day to answer texts, calls, read emails, check social media etc. Not using social media for a week caused me to glance at my phone a lot less during the day, and looking around campus, I was shocked to see how many people live their life staring at screens with their heads down.
2. I was made more aware of my surroundings. Adding to my first point, I was able to examine my environment a lot more. I really noticed this on my first full day without using social media. When in line at Starbucks, my first instinct was to unlock my phone to busy myself while waiting. Without my social media apps to click open, I locked my phone and instead, simply observed my surroundings: reading the menu with the new fall drink specials, students studying in large leather chairs, the soft jazz music playing overhead. What a concept!!! I never realized how many simple moments I miss each day, even if it’s just waiting in line for coffee.
3. I was less distracted. This was obviously my goal of hypothetically being “off the grid” for the week. While my to-do list didn’t automatically shorten after logging out of my social media accounts (it actually got longer…*sigh* life of a college student), I was able to take advantage of little moments in my day between classes and meetings to get simpler tasks done, instead of wasting that time checking my Instagram feed.
4. By the end of the week, I didn’t even want to use my phone at all. I’m going to be honest, after the first day without being on social media, I was so busy with class and life outside the digital world that I actually enjoyed not being preoccupied online. Now, a week later, even checking my email and texts can seem excessive and more of a distraction.
I firmly believe a social media cleanse was what I needed to make it through this busy week. While I was more productive academically, this decision has also allowed me to learn more about myself and fully embrace each day. Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are fun, and great for keeping in touch with people, but isn’t talking to friends and family in real life even better?