We wake up, we look at our phone. We shower, we look at our phone. We get dressed, we check the time on our phone. Then we look at our phone. When we think of a staple, we typically think of foods that constitute a dominant portion of our meals. By that measure, your cellphone and social media are staples. Technology plays a huge role in our lives; it is highly beneficial and necessary. However, we need to unplug ourselves every so often. Just as your electronics are constantly running, so is your mind. Sometimes we just need to detach those two things and snap back into reality.
Social media is awesome. We wouldn’t be where we are today without it – but is it controlling you, or are you controlling it?
Taking a break from social media is a great idea and something everyone should think of doing sooner rather than later. That’s why we’re featuring Stephany Flores (@balancingzero), who will share her experiences with you.
The comfort zone.
How many of you struggle with stepping out of your comfort zone?
I know I do.
I tend to stay where the view is nice, but the altitude is not so high. See, I’m afraid of heights, yet I love being in the mountains. I used to live in this little box where I often decided to step out and be me, but somehow society always made me feel like I just belonged in the box. I felt cast away and frowned upon for being different.
We’re all different.
I had realized that society did not shape the “me” that I am today. I now understand that I'm supposed to do that myself. The struggles I faced to be who I am started a long time ago, and yet I just recently realized who I am. I want you to know that it’s okay to not know who you are just yet.
As a human, I am allowed to make mistakes, to hurt, to question. When you’re 15 and lost, you tend to do that often. Then the search for yourself begins. My struggle with social media started as soon as I went from being a young innocent kid to a rebellious high school teenager. See, we were all introduced to Facebook as kids – at least, I was. I started with MySpace, copying and pasting codes to pimp out my profile, pretty much to the point where I learned most of the code by heart and copying was no longer necessary.
I spent most of my school nights trying to ‘fit in’. Trying to make friends online, or finding whatever was trending to share. I was already struggling to fit in at school because I was the new girl, the new girl with broken English. I was also extremely odd. My parents thought I was rebellious, but I was probably the sweetest girl in school. I had a limited amount of friends to begin with. I could never vent and share my personal experiences with friends, because I had so few friends. I felt lonely. Facebook was my friend. To fill this void, I began to write random posts online. Not too long, not too short, but to the point. These posts had a lot to do with my emotional state. Most of the time, I wanted everyone to know what I was doing; that way, they would be interested in me.
The first person to ever tell me my writing wasn’t any good — aside from the mean comments — was someone very, very close to me. This cut pretty deep, because this person meant a lot to me. I was able to speak my mind and it helped to fill that void that I was so desperate to fill. I stopped writing because the idea of doing something that actively turned off someone so close to me broke me. I was broken anyway. I had a horrible relationship with my parents at home; in fact, it was so bad that I used to get into physical fights with my dad. This was all because I lied to them about my high school boyfriend. As a result of my rebellious tendencies, I was never allowed to do anything with the few friends I had. I never had the chance to experience most of the things that children my age did. Sleepovers, going to the movies with friends, birthday parties. I was never allowed to do any of those. My parents didn’t even let me sleepover at my cousin’s place!
I was stuck in ‘screen relationships’, sending out about 100 snaps/messages a day. Posting on my story at least 300 seconds a day – the original DJ Khaled! I was reading nonsense tweets and retweeting, hoping they would fill the void of loneliness. I felt nothing, I was empty. I spent about 6 hours of my day sleeping, 7 hours at school/work and 10 hours plugged in, on the screen. Homework was not necessary; filling the void of loneliness was. I was addicted. Even at school, I needed to always be posting, messaging, snapping something.
About two years ago, I started to notice that I wasn’t taking selfies anymore. It’s not because I thought they were silly. It was because I did not love myself enough. I was no longer in love with my face and body. Was I ever in love with myself? My self-esteem was low – so low that I was afraid of people staring at me. Aside from realizing I had low self-esteem, I had also come to the realization that I was not proud of my accomplishments. Why did I not love myself physically and mentally? I was numb to the things around me, so I began to question reality. There were times where I just sat alone in a room, wondering why I was still around. What was the point of all this? What was my purpose here?
This is where it all started for me. This is when I knew I had to do something to fix this plague of low self-esteem. I sat down and created a list, a list about myself. On one side, I listed the things I was proud of; on the other side, the things that I was not so proud of. To fix all of these problems, I had to get rid of all the crazy distractions in my life. I had to be honest with myself and find the core issue that was causing all the things that didn’t make me proud of myself. The use of social media and frequent partying topped the list.
This is how I started my 6-month social media cleanse.
If you're thinking about taking a break from social media, feel free to take any of my ideas and try them yourself. See what works for you.
Here are a couple examples of the apps I considered distracting:
In the first few days of my detox, I would listen to music as I went about my day. I slowly started to realize that I was getting more done. I was left with a lot of free time! However, I caught myself roaming through music apps. Literally, just randomly browsing music.
Since I had no other distractions, I was on the search for good music. This was not helping me put my phone down.
In my free time, I still wanted to consume new content. You should never stop learning.
I logged into a couple of other apps that had nothing to do with keeping up with others on the internet.
Here are the two apps I used frequently:
1. Medium - This app is full of great minds. Medium is considered a blog host. It is a platform where bloggers just like midfulmindet post their work. It’s easy to maneuver and you have a mixture of amateur and professional publications. The app itself is an example of social journalism. Although it’s super-distracting at times, the app does a great job of restricting how many posts you can read in a month. Unfortunately, if you really enjoy the app, there is a monthly membership you will have to sign up for.
I began subscribing to different users based on my interests. I was distracted. The distractions were not bad though; they kept me grounded, satisfied my thirst for knowledge and helped me focus on what was important.
A few days into this process, I started to notice a difference in how I approached my depression and social anxiety.
Study after study has shown that people who check their email frequently or use social media excessively experience greater levels of anxiety. Information overload! My own tendencies for anxiety are probably higher than average. By day 2, I noticed that my anxiety had gone down significantly. I felt calmer, happier, and because I wasn’t seeing things that everyone else was posting, I was comparing less and creating more.
I wasn’t documenting every moment – I was actually living each one, and fully engaged in it. My meals with friends and my school days were much more enjoyable because I was present and fully engaged in both.
Some people are extrinsically motivated; they post for others. They post for the likes to lift their self-esteem. I learned to be intrinsically motivated, to do anything and everything for myself, posting on social media only to motivate myself.
Large creative projects, like schoolwork or writing a blog post, require intense focus. By giving up social media, I found that my level of focus increased. I was able to maintain a deep focus for longer periods of time. It turns out that quitting social media for a few days at a time is a great way to build your deep work muscle and experience flow on a more consistent basis.
Deleting social media was the best decision that I have ever made. It’s allowed me to get closer to my family, become more disciplined in my studies, eat mindfully and healthier, work out more, and has given me plenty of free time to read as many books as I’d like. Life is great!
Like anything in life, moderation is key. When you’re taking your last breath on this earth, will you be thankful for all the Snapchats you’ve sent and regret the missed chances of actual relationship-building, or will you remember all the moments of joy you shared with family and friends?
You don't have to give up social media completely. Your FOMO shouldn't make you anxious, either. Every month, I choose to download at least one social media app at a time and introduce it slowly into my life.
I hope my tips can help you! Give them a try, and let me know how it goes.
Stephany is a person we have known for years. She holds a great deal of knowledge, and everything she offers is golden. She really is a great human being. It’s safe to say that we need more people like her in the world. Feel free to contact her with any questions or comments. We hope all of you appreciate her writing as much as we do.