Experiment: How Cutting off Social Media for a Week Affected Me

By Yasmine Dawood

I’ve been thinking about cutting off social media for a long time now and I have always had a hunch that it affects my mental health, thus, my mood on a daily basis. I was not sure whether this effect was a negative or a positive one. I mean, how bad could it be? I am not the kind of person who is addicted to checking her social media accounts that often.

Well, it was time for me to check my screen time on the phone and let it decide. I was honestly astonished by the results, I was using my phone 7 hours/day and it mostly consisted of checking social media apps. I went further, by checking my friends’ screen time too, and realized that I was slightly lower in my usage.

That was my wake up call, especially that as an NLP practitioner I subconsciously focus and evaluate so many habits of mine to be aware of their effect on my mind. That night, I was going to bed, then I grabbed my phone one last time before I sleep, to delete the apps and boom! Here’s what happened. 

Thursday/ first day:

I woke up, automatically held my phone, checked the missed calls and texts, then searched for Instagram to check the stories before replying or calling anyone back, as usual. I did not find it and I replaced it by playing a game for like ten minutes then got out of bed, and started my day.

That day, I had a personal event, and guess what? I chose an outfit to wear, that looks good on me, with no worries about how I would look like in the pictures that will go up on ‘ the gram ‘. It felt like I was just getting dressed up for myself, and not to show off in front of all the people I know, even the ones that did not see me in real life. When I reached there, all I cared about was having fun and taking pictures to capture the good moments. I smiled and laughed from the bottom of my heart in the photos. 

I realized that when there’s a lack of social media presence there are no fake poses, there are more real smiles, thus it changed the purpose of taking photos from showing off your pretty fun life to capturing valuable moments with meaningful smiles.

Friday/ second day: 

It’s getting real. Now I know that I was not only doing this for 24 hrs. Honestly, I woke up a little bit confused that I know nothing about the outer world, and a bit more curious to see the photos uploaded from last night. I needed some kind of distraction that morning, something other than my phone. I found myself cleaning up my room instead, and started working on that piece you’re reading. Actually, I was not planning to write about it, I was totally doing it for self-exploration, but I was being productive and coming up with new ideas to write about that I never thought of, without having to squeeze my mind to do that.

Today I realized that having no pauses in between the day to automatically hold your phone and check what’s going out there is a true blessing. It leveled up my productivity level in a remarkable way. Also, I realized that quitting the habit of holding the phone first thing in the morning is not that hard. 

Saturday/ third day: 

Today I slept well and woke up feeling energetic. I created a to-do list for the week, that was all about me and how do I want to invest my free time to develop myself and enhance my capabilities. Today was the first day to feel that I am completely disconnected from the outer world. It felt kind of weird. I mean, for the past 15 years I have always had a source for checking out what’s going around that does not require any effort from me. I found myself automatically talking to more people during my day, like truly communicating with them. I also spent so much more time with my family without using my phone.

Sunday/ fourth day:

I started off my day by reading the book I bought two months ago, which I completely forgot about. Today felt so peaceful, it felt like my life has just started to be more meaningful. It felt like I’m happily living my real life, with no expectations of how my day should look like, with no images of how my life should be. It was a good day until I knew that it was the memorial of a very close friend of mine’s mother, it left me speechless. I was so sad and disappointed at myself for not remembering that date. I realized that I was too dependent on social media, especially when it comes to people’s birthdays, or worse, the memorials of their loved ones

Monday / fifth day: 

Today I started a new diet. I did a detoxifying massage, which was something I had never tried before. It was such a new experience, that I am intending to add to my monthly routine. Today I was focusing on my body and what it is trying to say to me and I felt connected to my body, and disconnected from any negative vibes, like never before. Right before the day has come to an end, I heard about a bomb explosion at a hospital, and people have died and I have always been the kind of person who gets really affected and emotional when I hear such news. I thanked god that I wasn’t able to see any pictures on any social media platforms.

Tuesday / sixth day : 

Today I got stuck in a traffic jam, as always and I did not use my phone to entertain me like I used to, so I started reading in the car to keep myself busy. I don’t know how this idea came to my mind as I started to find myself doing things that I’ve only seen in movies, that looked so perfect and productive. I was feeling kind of sad that my week was getting close to an end.

Today I realized that I started being subconsciously productive. I’ve always thought that it requires more determination to be that active. I realized that social media keeps me lazy, without me even noticing, it drained my energy to the extent that I always felt tired and numb to do anything of my usual track. I was not aware of that before, and even if I heard someone say it, I would have never believed them unless I tried and I am glad I did.

Wednesday / last day : 

I am not sure how I’m feeling. Am I excited to know what’s going on out there? Am I sad because my energy now is going to get divided among myself and others too? I am now considering cutting off social media for good, but what about my blog? What about my published articles?  and what about my work?

This week was a turning point in my life, I am not detached from social media, and I am sure that I’ll know how to use it without letting it affect my mental health in any negative way. I would also like to add that social media, like any other thing, is something that has its pros and cons. Cutting it off made me realize how it subconsciously affects my life, but it has also taught me how to use it from now on.

You can also check out Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier. According to The Guardian, “every chapter there is a principle so elegant, so neat, sometimes even so beautiful, that what is billed as straight polemic becomes something much more profound.”

WE SAID THIS: Happy world mental health day!!

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