We know that social media and its harms are widely discussed, perhaps even to a borderline annoying extent. Everyone will tell you that too much social media is bad for you, that it can harm your physical, as well as your mental health. And, as annoying as it is to hear it, those things are pretty true. As young people, our lives revolve mainly around social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the likes. And we never really recognize the true harm it does to us until it is too late. Bit dramatic, yes. But also true.
Now what would follow here would be a chorus of “I can limit myself if I decide to”, “I don’t even spend that much time online anymore”, “I wouldn’t be so difficult to stop”. As much as you say those things, to others or yourself, the truth remain only one. We all spend a seriously large amount of time online. We cannot limit ourselves because there will always be something that catches our attention, or that we want to share, etc. It is difficult to stop, very much so. But it isn’t as difficult when acted upon by an outside force. And that doesn’t mean having someone take away your electronic devices every time you so much as look at them.
This might seem a bit preachy, and perhaps you are right to think so. However, really, as someone who has struggled with the “hold” social media had on me, I like to think I am slightly aware of what it is that I am about to say here.
As many have said before me, there are a number of reasons why we get attached to social media so much. Either because we crave the validation of others, which isn’t entirely wrong, depending on the severity of it. Or we simply do not wish to be alone with ourselves. Whenever you are sitting on your own and you get bored, what is the first thing you do? You reach for your phone, that’s right. You go through social media, you post things, like other things, etc. A way to remind yourself and others that you’re there and you will give your opinion.
Social media is an extremely big part of our lives, mine included. And then I decided to change it.
True, the change was slightly forced upon me, with a broken laptop, being repaired three countries away. And me, in a new city, surrounded by people, with a number of sights to see… and no phone. Well, I wouldn’t say no phone entirely. But, when you’re in a foreign city, walking around and sightseeing all day, with no data and really weak wifi… you find yourself detoxing on your own. Simply because you have no way of using your electronics. No way to bring your attention to people’s things, or look for their validation through their likes or responses on things you post, simply because you have no way to post anything.
A forced media detox, but one that opened my eyes to how much time I truly spend on the internet. Which is why I wrote this. To speak of my experience, to tell you how I spent almost a week with no connection to Facebook, or Instagram, or the likes. And to tell you how great I felt afterwards. How free, how clean and light. Away from all the information that is constantly thrown in my face all the time, good and bad. But mostly bad. Information which, however many times I tell myself to not take to heart, still weighed me down, despite what I thought. And then, I spent a week away from the negativity and I felt the levity that came with it. The pureness with which I looked at the world was restored. So, yes. I may sound preachy, but I do mean well.
So, I challenge you to try. I challenge you to challenge yourselves to try. To spend two hours with no technology around you, just you, being alone with yourself. It might open your eyes to the world around you. It might open your eyes to what’s hiding in the depths of you as well. Challenge yourself and open your eyes to the world once again, with a clean and pure point of view.
What you will see after that will take your breath away, I promise you.
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