For the past four Sundays, I’ve done a thing I’ve been calling “social media free Sundays.” It’s really Instagram-free Sundays as that is the only app I seem to have a problem with.
I am an addict. The actual posting and sharing part of Instagram is not the problem. It’s the checking in for validation part, and the consuming other people’s content that are the problem. I can sit down for “a minute” and suddenly thirty minutes have gone by in a blink as I watch other people’s stories. Checking in to see how many likes my photos have. Replying to comments. Replying to DMs. Seeing how many people have viewed my stories. ETC. ETC. It’s a real rabbit hole.
I have thought about taking days off for a while now, but as a person who makes a living from the Internet, that felt scary. (The funny thing is that truly, nobody even notices if you take a day or two off… it was all in my own head…) But I often feel tired and burnt out (and addicted), and none of those things are good feelings to have.
So at the beginning of the year I decided that one of my goals would be to take one full day away from the ‘gram, every week. Maybe I will make it two. Wild and crazy. Being an addict, I have to actually delete the app from my phone on Saturday night and reinstall it on Monday morning. I have to tell you, it’s been great! Every Saturday night, I (somewhat gleefully?) delete the app from my phone, and every Monday morning I (ready and needing my fix) re-install it. I wish I had the discipline to just not look at it vs totally deleting it, but I know myself.
Lessons from Social Media Free Sundays.
Here are some of the things I’ve noticed after four weeks.
The most jarring thing I noticed was the first Sunday, when I grabbed my phone as soon as I woke up, to do my usual scroll. When the app was not there, I felt a little sad!
I am much more mindful of how often I grab for my phone.
I have really thought about what else I could do INSTEAD of all that scrolling and mindless consumption. Write! Read more books! Listen to podcasts. Meditate. Exercise. Call my parents. I could go on, but my life is not that exciting.
I find my day is much more peaceful (for better or worse) without Instagram. It was positive for the most part but at times… I felt a little bit bored? I am never bored; there is always someone to reply to or something new to see. It was honestly a little refreshing to feel bored!
I started doing crossword puzzles. I have the NY Times app and love it. It’s still screentime, but… screentime for my brain?
I really like doing this. It feels like I am doing something really positive for both myself and the people in my life. Overall, I feel calmer, more present, and more mindful of my little Instagram problem. I’m going to keep doing this for the foreseeable future and maybe even add in another day off. I don’t hate Instagram, I’m not planning to “quit,” it’s the opposite: I feel really lucky to have Instagram be something that contributes to my livelihood. But like so many things, we appreciate them more when we take breaks.