The Effect of 30 Days Without Social Media

Over thirty days now since I decided to walk away from social media entirely; mainly disabling my Instagram (IG) account and locking up my Twitter account. Those were the only spaces I engaged on social media since I deactivated Facebook (FB) over five years ago, and after I deactivated my FB business page this summer.

The Theory

I expected the first several days to be uncomfortable, as most 30 day challenges begin with discomfort while you align with the change. I was correct in feeling disconnected, anxious about loss, and unsure if I wanted to keep going. I decided it was only for 30 days, and like most things, we can go through them if we know there is an end within reach.

Now that the month-long experiment has ended I’ve noticed some changes in my behavior and how I feel about myself compared to before this change. I’ve also made a surprising decision.

What Happened

Before this commitment, I felt compelled to photograph many moments in life, especially runs, to share later via IG. I took far more photos than I do today, in the hopes of finding that gem that might spark a few likes and comments. I needed to photograph my runs or a moment on the road to prove it had happened, otherwise, how would anyone know?

Now, I shoot things that look interesting to me or might be funny moments with my children. I find myself paying more attention to my surroundings looking for more striking images on my walks or runs; knowing I won’t share with anyone but a close friend, or here with you.

I no longer bring my iPod with me on all of my walks or runs anymore, as I don’t always need to listen to a podcast or need to take a photo. I do miss out on some amazing photographs, but I also live more presently on those walks or runs without a device. My mind can meditate and flow more freely in the experience.

Now I complete runs without much fanfare or accolades. Instead, I finish, cross it off on my printed paper training sheet, and head to get cleaned up. I do still use DailyMile to log my runs, mainly as a way to keep track of improvements in pace or distance though I don’t interact a much with others in that space.

Twitter was not as hard to walk away from, as my use of it waned over the past several years. I am no longer connected directly with many people there, as now I read their blogs and connect in that way with those who inspire me. I used it mainly to share links and promote content, and occasionally respond to a comment or two.

The Feelings

I was nervous leaving social media and wondering if you would stop visiting or reading what I had to say; as I wouldn’t be reminding you “I’m here!” on FB, IG, or Twitter. What I found was the opposite. You haven’t stopped visiting, and I’d like to thank you for returning.

I’ve stopped writing content to sprout regular visits and promotion, and instead have taken my time to write when I have an idea to share or something to help you. I’ve wanted to focus for an extended period on creating better content to help others.

I currently have about ten draft posts I’m working on, as opposed to a month ago where there were few but mostly concerned myself with quick quippy posts related to a photo I recently took.

As for how I feel about myself?

I feel far less anxious about my workouts, appearance, or overall my concept of self. I feel less depressed about the state of affairs in my personal or professional life and the greater world. I’ve been able to focus inward and decide who I want to be without constant noise to tell me who I should be.

I am no longer seeing amazingly toned moms on IG who are running marathons or others saying, “you can do it!” after they lost all the baby weight in six weeks postpartum, have five kids, and do it all. I am no longer prone to getting sucked into political commentary or doomsday scenarios. I don’t feel bad at all about making a frozen pizza on a Thursday night for dinner when I just have lost the energy of the week to cook something fantastic.

While I did anticipate a feeling of freedom, as I felt it tremendously about a year after leaving FB, it didn’t come easy. It took several weeks of retraining my brain that I no longer had easy access to the comparison trap. If I wanted to compare myself, I had to work for it.

Also, it took several days to stop checking for notifications on my iPod that I had gotten in the habit of doing. The first week, I found myself always picking up my iPod only to be disappointed by the lack of any notification.

And now, I am working to compare my journey far less to others.

The Drawback

One item I didn’t anticipate was the less I picked up my device, the more easily I forgot what was on my schedule. My family completely missed an event with the kids because I forgot about it and had not looked at the calendar until it was half over, while the kids were napping. I didn’t expect to be less informed, but without constantly using my device I didn’t check the calendar or weather often at all.

Since then, I’ve set up a daily agenda emailed to me in the morning, as well as notifications for certain events. I have relied far too much on others to remind me of the weather (It’s going to rain today, gah!) this past month as well, so I may need to review it daily.

The Decision

At the beginning of this challenge, I assumed in 30 days I’d quickly return to IG and Twitter with a different perspective, but ready to share my daily workouts as I begin a marathon training plan on Halloween. I knew at the time I wanted to return to IG to share photos, so this was truly just a 30-day reset.

What surprised me was in the past week is I decided: I will not be returning. It didn’t feel as though it would serve any purpose and it might make me feel bad about what I am about to go through and accomplish; because it’s still far less than what others are achieving. It might distract me from being my best self.

Side Note: Oddly enough, my FB account had an attempt at hacking it just today by someone from Georgia. I marked it for complete deletion after resetting the password. Thanks FB for keeping it safe, but I’m happy to rid myself completely of the account and commit to the decision now. If you do find my face or name on any social media content, it is not me.

Deciding to walk away from social media completely flies in the face of what everything Chris believes about the connection among educators. It has not been easy for him to understand, but he has been supportive despite his opposing viewpoint.

In the end, I feel somewhat more connected to friends, family, and acquaintances that I talk with on a daily basis than I did before. I’ve put more effort into those interactions, as I’ve had more energy to do so. I may not always be away from social media, but this is leading me on a positive path.

I am, by nature, an introvert who would love to stay home all day and avoid interaction. Social media is a way to interact without really doing so.  At the end of the day, it was draining and provided little personal growth.

Your Turn

The best thing about deciding to do a 30-day challenge is that when you reach the end, you can choose to keep going or abandon it altogether. Often, we surprise ourselves with how much may change in a short time for better or worse.

I encourage you to try a 30-day challenge. It doesn’t have to be a social media blackout. It can be anything of your choosing. You might just surprise yourself.