Even though Instagram was one of the four apps I had on the bottom of my phone’s home screen, I still thought that I was not the kind of person that was “addicted” to social media. I’d check Facebook an average of 10 times a day (every day) but I still was never an avid Facebooker. The bulk of my time spent on social media was on Instagram.
I’m not sure what made me feel like doing a week-long fast from all social apps, but I reached a point where I felt like an autonomous zombie, checking my Instagram would be the first thing I do upon waking up and reaching for my phone -more times than I dare count- was how I passed my idle time.
I knew there was more to life than this, so I deleted all the social apps on my phone (Instagram and Facebook). Here it is, my life-changing week without contact with any source of social influence was like.
Day 1: Sunday
I woke up and reached for my phone out of habit and was pleasantly surprised at my lack of notifications (except for a few work emails). Later along the day, I fought several urges to go on the “Gram” for some light stalking of my favorite accounts that I follow for inspiration. The most surprising thing that happened was that I actually forgot my phone in my car and didn’t realize it till about 2 hours after I had got home! This was how unattached I was to my phone just because I was checking social media platforms.
Day 2: Monday
Although I needed to use Instagram for work-related purposes ( I did so on someone else’s phone) I found myself not missing it. At some point during the day, I noticed I was looking up more, like physically looking around me more and I was almost slightly more sociable, talking to people, like real people and whatnot. I also noticed how boring my phone was without the entertainment aspect social media provided, I started looking for other ways to entertain myself other than my phone.
Day 3: Tuesday
I was still reaching for my phone first thing in the morning. I was not yet quite grasping that I don’t have any reason to constantly check on my phone. It hit me how much I wanted to post about my life. I wanted to photograph my cute healthy breakfast and post about it, I wanted to post about everything from my morning playlist to how cute my cats were being that day. I also caught myself thinking about what other people (I mainly follow on social media) were doing in their lives.
Day 4: Wednesday
I believe the fourth day was the turning point for me. This was the first time I didn’t reach for my phone right as I opened my eyes and I actually hardly thought about Instagram or social media at all. I lived way more mindfully, ate lunch slower, played games on my phone occasionally, wrote a lot more, and was more focused and productive at work.
Day 5: Thursday
Today I woke up and the first thing I did was: NOTHING. I didn’t reach for my phone. I didn’t do anything except acknowledge my own body and become mindful of how it felt upon waking up. My mind was clear, crisp. I was peaceful and focused while getting ready for my day. Even though I had to re-install Instagram for work-related business I wasn’t even tempted to check it at all. But I did catch myself browsing non-work related accounts once along the day but quickly shut it down, it’s scary how fast social media sucks you in unconsciously
Day 6: Friday
During the weekend, I realized how my relationship with social media changes from weekday to weekend. I felt an overwhelming need to show the world where I was, how much fun I was having and how pretty the photographs I was taking were. It almost felt like if I didn’t Instagram about it didn’t really happen. It wasn’t about checking other people’s lives anymore as much as showing people what my life was like at the moment. I honestly didn’t know how I felt about this.
Day 7: Saturday
Today was the last day of my week-long fast from social media and I was honestly not happy it was ending. Today was especially difficult. I was having an off day and what I realized was how much I used to drown my feelings scrolling through my feed whenever I was feeling down. This came as somewhat of a shock because I would have never realized this about myself if I hadn’t taken this fast. I had to sit alone with my feelings bringing my awareness to my emotions and allowing them to wash over me because really that’s the best way to get over how you’re feeling, just letting things be. That night was the first time to pick up my guitar and play in God knows how long.
All in all, I would say this week of isolation from what’s happening in the world around me made me truly look inward. All the time I was spending checking up on what’s going on with other people’s lives I instead spent looking at what was really happening in my life. I was way more mindful during lunch because I wasn’t aimlessly scrolling on my phone while eating. I picked up my guitar again, started learning new music on the piano, noticed how beautifully the birds chirping outside my bedroom window was. And thanks to all the free time I had now that I wasn’t glued to my phone, I had a lot more meaningful connections throughout my days.
A month later
Now, my fast and Instagram is still buried somewhere in my phone (it’s not the first thing I see when I unlock it anymore) and I check it way less than I used to. I actually still haven’t re-installed Facebook, I hardly thought of it the entire time and even though my account is still active I don’t check any of my notifications. I was thinking of doing this week-long fast once a month but after doing it just once my addiction to Instagram just never came back. I am a much more productive person now who gets distracted way less often while working on a task. I enjoy photography more now that I take pictures to preserve memories rather than just taking pictures a certain way for them to be “Instagrammable”.
I never thought doing this would change so much of my day to day life, but it has. If you ever try it yourself I believe you’ll be surprised at all the different dimensions you’ll notice about yourself and how you live your life.
Featured Image: Viktor Hanacek