Before you can even get a basic understanding to my latest endeavor, you must understand my backstory for this and understand my personality. A friend of mine went on a weekend trip to one of her favorite camp style religious gatherings out of state, a young life camp. She was fully expecting to be stripped of her phone for the weekend as are all campers that decide to spend their weekend there. Unfortunately, she was a staff member, and that doesn’t require the relinquishing of any personal devices including cell phones. Okay, not so bad. Why not just continue the fast on your own time while there, right? Nope, her and all her other friends that attended were incapable of completing their social fast for even a single weekend, which she considered to be an atrocity to their self-control. Anyways, she decided to delete all social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc.… from her phone indefinitely. Once she arrived back on campus at our school she informed me of her intent and I considered it to be a joke or some other far-fetched pledge to never be completed in a million years. I even laughed out loud as soon as the words flowed from her mouth. Random college aged kids can’t be stripped of our beloved social platforms, we will curl up and die of boredom in a corner, won’t we? Well, she challenged me saying that there was no way I could fast either. Initially I thought to myself, “You’re damn right I can’t, why would I want to? Literally no point.” But the challenge was overwhelming to me. If told I can’t accomplish something or if considered incapable of a task I will attempt it, no matter its magnitude. So, I promptly deleted all my accounts from my phone. At least until she redownloaded them declaring me the better of us. But, that pledge was well over two weeks ago, and that sounds like a short time but that is undoubtedly my longest social fast since, well, before I made my “Myspace” account in like sixth grade. Given this prolonged period I suppose it is only fair to share with each of you my experience so far.
The Dreadful Beginning
Initially, moments after my release from my social prison of constant checking, I felt weak, uninformed and lost. I was considering this to be a foolish mistake and was literally waiting on the text saying, “Hey, maybe this isn’t a good idea. I have mine back. There’s no point of it.” However, after several grueling hours I realized that it was a text that would never come. After most of the day had passed and my nightly ritual of studying in the library had concluded, I was off to shower and sleep in my dorm. Showering was obviously a rather simple task that never involved Instagram scrolling anyways. No problems there. Sleeping was a much different ordeal that I had trouble with. Without thinking I had deleted my common pre-sleep ritual. My nights consisted of scrolling on all my accounts for at least half an hour, and that was on my most tired nights. Scrolling could last up to a couple hours on my restless nights and that was a normal thing for me. Another issue was I had been producing Twitter worthy quotes or captions without an outlet to post them on. I had the immense desire to tweet them or something, but had nowhere to post them. It was almost justifiable to download my accounts once again just to share with the world my brainy thoughts or to sound vague to receive retweets or possibly likes on Instagram. After the first three days, my life became much easier on several different general categories.
As mentioned earlier my sleep schedule had rituals involving social media. I realize now that prolonged scrolling and internet exposure before bed was a contributor to my past sleeping issues. Before, I was lucky to be asleep by 3:00 am, but now sleeping before then is almost too easy, except for finals week of course. I have noticed a crazy difference in my sleep quality, and I’m not retiring to bed any earlier. I’m still a horrible night owl, but an extra couple hours of sleep is amazing! Another thing my social disconnection allows is a more productive morning after waking up. Not only am I less tired but I am less tempted to scroll on the gram in the morning. This helps me get extra work done or just grab a quick workout if I know my evening is busy.
Oddly enough I have had a better social life since the decision to disconnect. Sure, I don’t converse via comments or DM’s, but I have more face-to-face conversations it seems. It could be the subconscious decision to engage in more conversations because I realize communication is now very limited. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed this spike in conversation and it will hopefully drive me to continue this fast.
This one is probably too obvious for some of you. My grades have always been well, but they could always improve. It has only been two weeks but I have a sharper focus in the classroom that I think must have some correlation to this newly formed fast. It is likely due to my improved quality of sleep, but nonetheless it exists and is noteworthy. My exam grades were consistent previously, but after performing the math I noticed a five-point increase from my previous exam average compared to my new exam grades received recently. Some of you all may be asking “well, what if he received took an L early in the semester?” Well, in order to have reasonable numbers I went ahead and excluded any grades that were poor in comparison to my average grades.
Social Media Fasting, is it worth it?
My answer to that is a huge yes! I personally challenge each and every one of you to attempt a fast from social media for a weekend, or maybe just a three-day period in the week. Just give your number out to specific people that need it, or just post it on your Twitter or Instagram explaining your personal challenge and include your cell phone number in the post. Believe me, people that want to talk to you will keep in contact with you. I decided not to attach my number to any farewell post and I had unsaved numbers texting me with names and saying they had not heard from me in a while and got my number from whoever. In all honesty, we post things for attention of approval. I used to post snapchat stories of me working out or going on a 6 am jog in a “Hey, look at me” manner. You don’t post stories of you working out, partying, studying or whatever it may be to inform, but to receive approval from your peers for your actions that are oh so cool and amazing. I assure when you post that bikini pic from last summer it may be a throwback, but it is for attention, likes and approval. Men do the same thing, when you post that “transformation” picture you are doing it for likes and praise. I did it, and you are too but you won’t admit it. It took me up until three days ago, to realize the motives for my prior social actions and posting habits. One thing you learn from a social media fast is that you still need approval. You need to feel good about yourself and to be told you are doing a good job, but you learn who needs to be telling you this. You don’t need hundreds of likes, twenty comments, forty-three retweets or any other numerical value to feel like a decent and productive human being and contributor to society. You just need to value yourself, value others that mean something to you and try to make them notice you. I would also argue that social media is the root to waisted time. Instead of all that pointless and counterproductive scrolling and observing you could be doing literally anything. Reading if you like to read, working out if you are into fitness, hunting if you hunt, or whatever it is you enjoy doing. Instead of scrolling through the gram you could be speaking to the person you are supposed to be hanging out with, whether it be a friend or significant other. After my farewell to social media I have a growing disdain for scrolling during conversation or constant “storying” of ones’ surroundings. I have also noticed a strength in my short-term memory. I suppose this is also of relation but I can’t guarantee it as a fact. All I can say is that I have an improved life since my disconnection and I can’t find a single complaint or regret from it.
Throughout this entire blog, I have expressed positives, pet peeves and random tangents as they appear in my mind. I would like to express that I have no disdain or hard feelings toward anybody that still uses social media. I realize fully that I am the minority in this case. The number of odd looks and redundant questions I receive upon my disconnection confession are almost as much a part of me as the blood in my veins at this point. Many can’t comprehend how I live without it and I would have thought the same thing before. I can’t cast any harsh judgements on my peers for their usage. It is not weakness expressed by them or even lack of self-control. Some don’t desire to disconnect and that I can see. Some may have no other means of communication and I can respect that as well. As I said before, I was literally praying for a text ending the madness that I bestowed on myself. I initially underestimated my challenger’s self-control because I fully lacked confidence in our ability to accomplish this insurmountable objective. As a progress report we are both still fully disconnected from our social media accounts and have yet to have any infractions. I can’t say with confidence that social media is going to be out of my life forever. I may one day return to its grip but with a far different approach to its use. As of right now my intentions are to stay away from it, even if my challenger decides to end our challenge. At this point I feel like my abrupt disconnection from social media has impacted my life so positively that I would be doing myself an unforgivable disservice if I were to download those time consuming apps once again. Our challenge has still been upheld to the fullest extent of its boundaries and for that I can say that I am proud. Not many college aged social media addicts can abruptly and fully disassociate from our accounts for any period longer than four hours not including sleep. In order to spread the unexplainable mental increase I have received from my fast I challenge you all to a three day fast. Do it with a partner if you must and maybe add an incentive between you all if that would yield success. Tell me how it goes and good luck to each of you that attempt it. The odds are not in your favor!