I am a self-admitted social media junkie.
As a 40-something woman, social media for me is limited to Facebook and Instagram (no TikTok for this girl), but what I lack in variety, I make up in dedication.
My typical morning started as I reached for my phone and checked for notifications—it was literally the first thing I did each morning. Through the day, the notification number on the app’s icon kept me in the know so that I didn’t miss anything.
While I’m waiting in line, I check my phone. When I’m a passenger in the car, I’m good for a few hours of scrolling. My brain likes stimulation, and social media provides it with a constant flow.
I’ve always been an advocate that my social media addiction was harmless—no different than watching TV—I just never really saw it having an impact on me.
Then COVID-19 happened. My once happy newsfeed of friends and families celebrating milestones and taking vacations turned into a minefield of opposing viewpoints and people getting angry and ugly online.
I got angrier the more I read, but couldn’t stop myself from reading. I found myself choosing to unfollow people because I struggled not to respond with my own equally strong opinions.
Social media became a source of stress rather than an outlet for it, and that’s when I knew it was time for a break.
I announced to my fiancé that I was taking a weeklong social media break—this was to coincide with a trip to tour the Rocky Mountains. He agreed and also committed to deleting his apps while we were away. He now admits that he never thought I’d be able to do it.
The first few days, I kept reaching for my phone. I deleted the app to help with temptation, but it was hard to resist. We were on vacation, and I couldn’t share any cool photos or check in cool places. I received no feedback or instant gratification from my shared moments because there weren’t any.
Then we headed to the mountains. Cell service was nonexistent, but that didn’t matter. With views like that, I couldn’t imagine not taking in each moment, but I knew that in the past I had missed out on other incredible views.
The days went on and the urge lessened. I stopped taking my phone to bed with me and reached out directly to friends and family to share my moments with them, rather than passively doing that over Facebook.
The craziest part was that I had always thought I couldn’t get off social media because I’d miss it too much. I still messaged the people closest to me, I got my news from actual news sites (not just what people shared), and I spent an entire week living in the moment and not concerned about what someone else would think or say about my life.
As we returned home, my seven-day social media blackout came to an end. I checked my notifications (they weren’t all that important), but I haven’t scrolled or shared any vacation photos. I’m not ready to share my moments quite yet because I no longer feel compelled to check it, and honestly, I’m not that interested anymore.
I still see social media as neither bad nor good, but our own habits can make it a good or bad influence on our lives.
My goal now is to seek balance because social media has a small part in my life and not my entire focus.
We did a lot of amazing things on that vacation. I have this photo as a great reminder of feeling stress-free in the mountains, and I’ll look at it the next time I find myself endlessly scrolling my newsfeed.
That photo will always be a reminder of what’s important and how I want to feel.