As we approach May 1st and anxiously await the re-opening of the world, I’ve been reflecting over the last six weeks we’ve spent in quarantine. Some have used the last six weeks to recover from their rushed, busy schedule and hit the reset button. Others have used this time to buckle down and focus on hitting goals they’ve been neglecting. Regardless of how you’ve spent your weeks in quarantine, I think it’s safe to say that everyone will emerge from this time having changed in some way. While social distancing has been challenging, it has taught me so much. I feel like I’ve really gotten to know myself for perhaps the first time in my life because so many noises have quieted over the last six weeks, the most notable of which is social media. Today, I want to share with you how social (media) distancing has impacted my quarantine experience.
But first, a little back story…
My generation has grown up with technology and we have benefitted greatly from it. I have had a cell phone since I was 14 years old. That’s twelve years of AIM, online games, texting, emailing, and using social media. Like with many people my age, my reliance on my phone has grown with technology’s advancement. What began as texting has escalated to multiple group chats running at the same time on multiple channels, constant scrolling of Instagram and Facebook, and taking selfies, photos, or stories of every single tiny moment in my life and posting them online. There have been so many times that I wanted to ditch my social media and break the habits of scrolling and constantly checking my phone, but FOMO always won. What would I miss if I were to take my apps off of my phone? Would people get mad that I wasn’t contributing anymore? Would being out of the loop make me less interesting to people? The fear of the answers was enough to keep me glued to my phone year after year.
Then all of the sudden, the world shut down.
I had already been at my limit with social media and once all of the memes, posts, misinformation, and bored quarantine content hit the Internet, I knew it was time for me to take a hiatus. I started by deleting my social media apps off of my phone, but kept my accounts active. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I picked up my phone and opened my “Social” folder just to find it empty during that first week. It was so telling of how dependent I had been on my screen to pass my time. As the weeks passed, I stopped picking up my phone in bored moments and realized how much more at peace I was during the day. I didn’t have notifications popping up on my phone. I didn’t have FOMO because there wasn’t anything to miss out on and if there was, I didn’t know it was happening. All of the sudden, it was like I was fully aware of the real world (read: not the world existing within my phone.)
I started thinking about what social media really meant for me. Was it actually connecting me to people? Or was it simply validating my status as being “connected?” Were the photos that I took specifically for social media actually adding value to my experiences or to me personally? My eyes were opened to what my brain has always known: I am not who I am on social media. Social media is not a necessary part of my life. My experiences aren’t more meaningful to me because other people know I have them. To be honest, my moments seem even more precious now that I get to enjoy them for myself and with the people I love.
Now, a challenge for you.
I owe so much of the peace I’ve felt over these last six weeks to spending less time on my phone. I really recommend that you give it a try for yourself. Start small and just remove one app from your phone for one week. Take note of the feelings that arise from not having easy access to your social media platforms. Are you anxious? Do you feel lonely? Are you bored out of your mind? If so, that’s normal. I felt that way during the first week, too. But give it time. Give it one more week and see how you adapt to your new normal. You may realize that social media distancing isn’t for you. For many people, social media is encouraging and entertaining and it adds value to their daily experiences. And that is great! Every person is unique and while social media may not be for me, that doesn’t mean that it’s not for you. There is no “right” way of doing this thing.
On the other hand, you may surprise yourself like I did. Ditching your phone may end up feeling like the ultimate freedom. To be honest, I can’t see a time when I will add the apps back to my phone because of how much I’m enjoying my little experiment with social media distancing. If you do decide to spend some time off of your phone, here is a list of other activities you can do when you’re tempted to turn to your screens to kill time:
Social Media Distancing Activities
- Get outside
- Journal for 15-20 minutes
- Stretch. If you’re working out at home and working from home, chances are that you are in need of some stretching. Check out our favorite routine here if you need some ideas.
- Try a new recipe
- Play with your pet
- Pick up a new hobby
- Talk to a friend on the phone (yes, with your voice)
- Clean your home! My place has been spotless during quarantine because I’ve had lots of extra time to pick up!
- Take a nap. A 20 minute power nap has saved me more times than I can count. Give it a try for yourself!
There are so many fun, different ways to spend your time instead of scrolling or texting. If you have any other suggestions you’d like to share, drop a comment below! We love hearing from you!
Stay healthy and stay safe, friends! We’re in the final stretch!