Why I’m Taking a Month off Social Media

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Why I’m Taking a Month off Social Media

My inability to stay off of social media last summer taught me a lot about how I spend my time.

My inability to stay off of social media last summer taught me a lot about how I spend my time.

Reilly Smith

My inability to stay off of social media last summer taught me a lot about how I spend my time.

Reilly Smith

Reilly Smith

My inability to stay off of social media last summer taught me a lot about how I spend my time.

By Nehemiah Jackson, La Salle Catholic College Preparatory

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As my junior year came to a close and with summer on the horizon, the last few weeks of school dragged along; during finals week, I found myself overwhelmed and stressed, but also excited, thinking about the endless possibilities summer offered. And after my last final, I knew I was only a few days from starting my job, so I had one goal: clear my head and quickly detox from school.

After my final grade came in on PowerSchool, I found myself with no ties to school, meaning that I could focus solely on work and enjoying my summer. However, as I entered my first week of work, I found myself — during breaks, lunch, and at home — constantly scrolling through Instagram and refreshing Snapchat, waiting for any new post or notification.

Considering the high hopes I had for the summer, after that first week, I could see those hopes fading as this was how I’d spent the majority of my last summer. It was around this time that I realized the time I was spending on social media wasn’t helping me detox from school or clear my head.

So, rather impulsively, I deleted all forms of social media off my phone and iPad, resolving to use my time more productively. After the first few days, my resolve was strong, and I was doing more productive things with my time, so I gave myself a challenge: to go a month without social media.

I failed.

This failure, in retrospect, taught me a lot about how I spend my time. So, just a few weeks ago, with spring break coming up, I decided to attempt the challenge once again, deleting social media for a month, with hopes to spend my free time doing more important things.

Going back to last summer: During the week — while I was working — not having social media didn’t bother me, but when the weekend approached, I found myself with more time. With the larger amount of time, intrusive thoughts invaded my mind as I found myself wondering what other people were doing. 

Those intrusive questions turned into a craving to check social media, and I found myself thinking that if I just re-downloaded social media for a moment, then the craving would dissipate and I could just pretend it had never happened. Despite the craving — during the second week at least — I stayed strong.

However, despite the fact I was staying strong, the craving was consuming my thoughts, and as I thought to why I deleted social media, I couldn’t remember why I’d deleted it in the first place.

One day after work, I found myself journaling (in the stream of consciousness form), and as my thoughts drifted, I wrote: “I deleted social media to clear my head.” In that moment of clarity, I was sure of one thing: my head wasn’t clear.

This weakened my resolve greatly, and with my original reasoning for deleting social media at conflict with the act of deleting social media, I found myself wondering why I didn’t just re-download my favorite social media apps and continue life pretending like nothing happened.

So a few days later, the craving broke my resistance completely, and I found myself re-downloading these apps to satisfy the craving; that simple check spiraled into a two-hour session of me “catching up.”

After the two hours, my willpower was gone. However, I still told myself that I was just catching up, that whenever I wanted to I could just delete social media. It’s been nine months since then.

Recently, I looked back to that month where I tried to delete social media, and I became fascinated with the grip social media had on my mind. And given my interest in psychology, I wondered if that grip was still there.

So I deleted social media, and now I’m eleven days in. When I make it to 30 days (or don’t), I’m going to write a follow-up column covering what happened this time around. Stay tuned!

This story was originally published on The La Salle Falconer on April 3, 2019.