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I took a break from social media and here’s what happened.

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Courtesy of Blogtrepenuer/FLICKR

Tarlon Khoubyari
    Web Content Manager/ Online Exclusive Editor 

 

As a technologist, writer, and advocate for mental health I ask myself: Is life just a compilation of Instagrammable moments and if so, just what is that doing to us?

It’s not news that social media can contribute to the rise of depression and anxiety within our generation, however, it seems to be getting much worse due to the mass of content people are able to access every single day. It has become very easy to get into the trap of feeling bad about our seemingly monotone life when our Instagram/Facebook feeds are filled with happy faces and great memories.

In my personal experience, I had to take a step back from social media for a little while to gain some clarity on the truth behind these singular moments people share with the world. I, myself, am extremely active on social media not only for my job but also in my personal life. I want to connect with as many of my friends, family and new professionals as much as I can. But I noticed that it had become distracting and had been doing more harm than good.

Whenever I had a bad day or was upset I would go on social media to distract myself but then I saw all these happy faces. This left me feeling more isolated: I felt alone in a world of billions of users. For the sake of my mental health:  I took a break from social media unless it had to do with my job. I became aware to see how much effort goes into putting together a good instagrammable picture.

There’s editing, lighting, posing; the perfect caption. It became a production. I didn’t want to live my life that way and the beauty of technology is that there’s a choice. The user can decide whether or not he or she wants to use whatever tool there is. Over this time of my social media cleanse, I became so self aware of my behaviors and habits.

What I learned is that social media is addicting; whenever I woke up the first thing I did was check Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and then thumb through my emails. When I went to bed it was the last thing I checked too.

It was insane, I was always on my phone. Without those notifications coming in, the urge to check my phone became less. Going through my social media feed became a large part of my morning and evening. It became exhausting.

I was surprised I didn’t really miss it. I thought this was going to be hard, but I was pleasantly surprised. I was so ready to do this and finally pull the plug. I wasn’t surrounded by the excess noise and content.

I was shocked by how much I enjoyed not having things to check, people to keep Snapchat streaks with, and be bombarded by content. As The Carolinian’s web content manager, this is my job. You’d think I would miss it. Not even in the slightest because I kept up with my professional obligations.

It brought me closer to my friends. My friends were supportive of me going on this social media hiatus and respected my decision. Whenever we would hang out they were aware that I wasn’t on social media so they would reframe on going on it themselves. This led to some really amazing moments that the rest of the world didn’t need to see.

I will say that when I was hanging out with my friends and we were going out to eat or having a girls night I felt an urge to share. I easily could’ve re-downloaded those apps but I chose not to because what’s the point? It was funny to me to see the texts of people reaching out to me saying: “Did you die? Where’d you go?” It made me aware of the people in my life who were close to me deeper than on social media.

Social Media has a lot to do with perspective. People will share what they want you to see. It’s easy to forget that at the end of the day the people you see online and in reality shows are people at the end of the day. They share the same insecurities you may feel. Overall, this experience made me realize how much of our time we spend on our phones. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I think depending on your personality and usage of social networking a cleanse may be helpful.

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