I’ve noticed something about myself during the past few months. I’ve come to realize just how much of an impact social media has had on my life. It wasn’t just an occasional way to pass time, it was pretty much an addiction to me. It was a dopamine rush, a sense of validation, and as depressing as it sounds, it almost felt like I was somewhat deriving some kind of meaning from it.
We all hear about how social media just shows highlight reels of our lives. Well I was a prime example. Out drinking with friends? I had to put it on an Instagram story. New personal record in distance when I was biking? It became a new post on my snapchat story. It felt like I was creating this narrative of how awesome life was at the moment, and the satisfaction from being out with friends or breaking personal records almost felt like it wasn’t being about the activities themselves, but from the validation I could get from these activities when I post them on social media.
It’s stupid, I know. But it almost became a habit. It was just the norm to me at that point. And continuously I found myself surfing through my social media and comparing my life to others. I kept having a feeling of FOMO, aka, the Fear Of Missing Out. If I was just hanging out at home on a Saturday night and opened up Instagram to see people out partying instead; I’d immediately feel like shit and think, “Wow, my life sucks.” I kept seeing all the achievements other people posted on Instagram, and it made me forget about my own personal achievements. I would also keep thinking about how I could one up these people and plan for completing a new personal goal just to post it on social media as well. And when I did things like make new posts that didn’t get as many likes as I wanted to, I felt dissatisfied and would get urges to delete those posts because I would think about how I could’ve done so much better.
After a while I started to realize just how toxic this was to my mental health. Yes, I’m in a better place than I was compared to years ago. But I still kept holding myself back to being in an even better place because of consistently letting my mind drift back to being in the fake reality of social media. Instead of enjoying the actual world in front of my own eyes, my eyes were just glued on my phone. So, after all these insights were made. I decided to delete most of my social media. To be specific, I deleted my Instagram and Snapchat account, then I deactivated Facebook. The only reason why I didn’t fully delete Facebook was that deactivating it still lets me use the Facebook messenger app on my phone, which is a much more effective way of messaging people in my opinion. However, deactivating Facebook still meant that I couldn’t use the rest of the app itself.
In a funny way, I felt “lighter” after doing this. Like I didn’t have this pressure to keep posting on social media for that validation. However, it’s still taking some time to get use to. Sometimes when I’m bored I find myself opening my phone just to remember that I can’t open my social media accounts anymore. It was a strange emptiness, but I realized that I can fill that emptiness with things that are much more productive. Such as getting more involved with reading books again and re-focusing on writing. In the short amount of time that my social media has been deleted, I’m already starting to feel a little better about myself. My goal in the long run is to really start fully being in the moment, and instead of filming that beautiful sunset for an Instagram story, I’m watching it with my own eyes and not through my phone.