Editorial, Opinion

Do a social media detox, your mental health is at stake

I’ve been on a social media detox. What started as a fun bet with a friend turned into a life-changing experience.

This has been a really big change and pretty eye-opening. It’s calmed my mind and helped relieve anxiety, and since I started this a few weeks ago, I haven’t had a single suicidal thought cross my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m alright and I never acted upon any of those thoughts. They were just there, looming in the back of my mind.

But now, being on this social media detox, I haven’t had any of those reoccurring thoughts. Sure, I still feel stress here and there due to homework and school, but it’s been significantly better over the course of this detox. I feel less depressed, less anxious, I don’t feel inadequate and my mind is more clear.

My addiction to social media happened completely by mistake and slowly over time. I had been dealing with a phenomenon known as “Facebook depression.” Phys.org’s article, “The secret history of Facebook Depression,” states connecting with every single person you know can make you feel inadequate. People’s lives on social media are often only the good parts, creating a fabricated reality for comparison. I think that caused me to conjure up suicidal feelings, because “Facebook Depression” had me believe my life was not worth living.

Every time I looked on social media, Facebook or Instagram especially, I always felt that my life was basically worthless – even though I know that’s not true. To feel better, I’d go on social media again, creating a perpetual cycle. It felt like I was sinking into a black hole of social media. It took me a long time to climb out, but a voice deep inside me trying to escape got me out.

The main issue for me was that anytime I felt a negative emotion, I’d rely on social media instead of actually figuring out how to fix my problems. Social media was like my crappy therapist who didn’t know how to talk to people at all or help anybody but I thought was helping me.

The myths of millennials and younger generations being addicted to social media have been increasing over the past two decades. Older generations say we are wasting time, aren’t productive, are anti-social, or that we can’t live without it.

I know that by writing this, I’m falling under my own stereotype but for me there was some truth to it, I did actually have a problem that needed to be fixed.

I don’t think younger generations have an issue with social media – I think we all do – every generation now has a growing problem. These days, children and older age groups are getting an unhealthy addiction, too. Haven’t you noticed that your parents and grandparents are on Facebook even more than you?

Being in my generation, I did always grow up with technology. I’ve had social media since I was 12, back when MySpace was popular. I got Facebook at 13; a Tumblr at 15; then Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Reddit soon followed. I can barely remember a peaceful time without the weight of what the rest of the world was doing on my shoulders.

Doing this detox has made me feel a bit like that innocent 11-year-old girl who just drew pictures and played Barbies all day. I would go on the family computer and play games, but I didn’t have a phone to distract myself with and take away my creativity.

After doing some research, I’m not surprised that I got an addiction that affected my mental health. Social media is being designed to be more addictive. An article published by The Guardian called “Never get high on your own supply—why social media bosses don’t use social media,” explains that executives don’t even use their sites because they understand the harms that come with obsessive social media use.

They know not to get caught in their own trap. That would be as stupid as a spider falling and being tangled in their own web; but spiders are clever and know where to step to not get stuck.

I didn’t quite realize I had gotten stuck until I found myself reading a headline for an article on Facebook titled, “You won’t spend your deathbed wishing you were on Facebook more.” Oh, the irony. I had already spent at least 45 minutes on Facebook at that point.

After I saw that article, I closed out of the app and threw my phone down and thought, “Yes. They are absolutely right. It’s time for a break.”

There are many differences that I’ve noticed in myself while being on this detox, and I’m going to share them with you:

I have more time: Social media was always there looming, waiting to be used. It sneaks up on me, then all of a sudden three hours go by and I’m on YouTube watching the tenth Vine  compilation in a row.

I deal with less drama: There’s always unnecessary drama on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook. Now I don’t have to be stressed over it because I don’t see it at all. Out of sight, out of mind.

I experience less depression: Like I mentioned before, my mind has been cleared and I feel less anxious without having to rely on social media. I strongly believe social media was a huge factor in making me feel like crap. I didn’t think it was solely because of social media, though. I thought it was just because I was dealing with a lot in college and being under a lot of stress. I never realized how much social media had an impact on those thoughts and feelings until detoxing.

I’m doing more meaningful things: Since this detox, I have time for my hobbies and more meaningful reading. I think social media can preoccupy people from doing what they love or what they need to do. Overall, I really feel more productive.

I feel more like a human: I know this sounds weird, but I no longer feel like a person trapped in a prison of social media. There is no escape unless you do it for yourself. I dug my way out with a plastic spoon and saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

I really suggest everyone try and break away from social media just for one week. Delete all of the apps off your phone and all of the bookmarks on your laptop. Just try it for a week, honestly it wasn’t as hard as I expected. I really think it could benefit everyone in many different ways.

For me, I’m doing this social media detox for three months to fully experience the effects and get my mind back in good health. After that, I want to limit my social media time in my life and still focus on the real world.

For more information about my personal experience, visit my social media detox blog: https://kaitlinrocks13.wixsite.com/mysite/home/

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