What happens if I quit social media for a month?
Rediscover joy without infinite scrolling
Lately, I often come across these "I do [this thing] for a month and this is what happened" and lately I have been noticing a pattern in my own life. Something disturbing and disruptive. A pattern I have succumb to like so many other millions of people have, and I never thought I would be one of them.
I am constantly checking my phone for social media notifications and to see what everyone is up to, I'm online all the time - I don't want to miss anything. And honestly, that idea is just dumb. The people and things most important to me, they are around me, whether I am a slave to social media, or not. And in fact, not being tied to my phone for social media, allows me to be more joyful and present, something many of us have forgotten as social media has become more present and almost expected you participate in. So let the experiment begin - What happens if I quit social media for a month?
Understanding the dopamine high
Ever notice how those pings on your phone alerting you to a new 'Like' on your posts make you feel good? It's a chemical being released in your body called dopamine, a neurochemical known as the "reward molecule" because it makes you feel good. It's most commonly released after certain human behaviors such as exercising, achieving a goal, sex, eating delicious food, and one form of modern-day sedentary behavior - using social media.
"Social media affects the brain the same way a hug does. Releasing a dopamine high." - Molly Soat, American Marketing Association
It's no surprise how one can become addicted to social media, with all that dopamine at just a button press away - it's easy!
Why I'm quitting social media
I have decided to pursue this challenge to take back my life. I believe removing social media for one month can provide me with a more fulfilling existence, can bring me joy and hopefully, all the following benefits;
To be more present
- To appreciate those closest to me, value what I have, and to take in my surroundings in a meaningful way.
To have more time
- To avoid getting sucked into the time warp that is social media and avoid the endless content consumption with no intention.
To focus inward
- To spend more time on creating content & educating myself on things I want to learn but have been putting off.
To free myself from my phone
- To enjoy the day without constantly checking my phone for notifications, likes, retweets, etc. Breaking the shackles.
To create without fear
- To create for myself and no one else and to put content into this world that I feel can be beneficial regardless of how others view it. To create without the need to compare myself to others or to seek others approval. To gain confidence.
To find joy
- With boredom comes thought and to acknowledge that just sitting with my own thoughts in silence is okay. Discover new hobbies and find new ways to find entertainment. Find what brings me the most joy and do more of that.
To have intent
- To stop taking photos for no reason other than to post them later (you know you've done it too). To post with intention & only when it furthers my goals.
In order to have a successful experiment, you need guidelines, or rules to follow. Here is the list of 10 guidelines I have come up with, keeping in mind that I am a content creator and will be able to use certain tools but ONLY for the purpose of that content creation and promotion.
- No phone notifications for social media
- No browsing/consuming social media
- No posting to social media, unless it relates to content I create
- No browsing/consuming video content, unless it is educational
- Uploading to YouTube is okay
- No online gaming (single-player or couch co-op only)
- Streaming to Twitch is okay (but refer to #6)
- No reading comments or viewing analytics on my content
- No checking email or social DM's, except twice a week
- Discord voice is okay, to discuss business endeavors.
*Social Media includes Twitter, Instagram, Discord channel feeds, Pinterest. Video content includes YouTube, Twitch, Mixer & other video streaming platforms.
But how can you just quit?
There is a very common fear of quitting social media only to be doomed, shunned by everyone around you for not supporting their content, the idea of your friends forgetting about you, and your career tanking (if it is dependent, or if you have been lead to believe it is dependent, on your social media interactions).
While these fears aren't unwarranted, you more than likely will lose some followers for taking this challenge, you'll get plenty of eye rolls and some people may think you insane in this day and age, but in my opinion the benefits will outweigh the fears.
"Meaningful conversations don't happen in 280 characters."
Just because you aren't hitting 'Like' on someones content, doesn't mean you aren't supporting them - there are many forms of support. And those who truly are your friends, will find other ways to stay connected and you may find you talk to friends more. Go on lunch/dinner dates to see them in person, make phone calls, write text messages - hell, even write a letter, I personally LOVE old-fashioned hand-written letters and cards and value them much more than a message on social media, who wouldn't?
Jump in the deep end
I am ready to leap off the diving board and immerse myself in this challenge. I am excited to see what differences a month will make and to ring in 2019 without my phone on stand-by for the perfect "Happy New Year!" tweet. If you are feeling brave, I encourage you to take this challenge with me! At the end of the challenge, I will update you on my progress and what happened when I quit social media for one month.
Let us get started, let's create without fear and let's hit refresh, for real.