I’m quitting social media for one year. That’s right, a full 365 days free of digital instant-gratification. Starting yesterday (September 17, 2019), my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts were deactivated.
Now, the catch with Twitter is that I’ll have to reactivate the account every 30 days because after 30 days of deactivation, Twitter permanently deletes your account and all the data that went with it. After this one year social media purge, I’m not sure if I’ll still want my Twitter account so for this reason I’ll be reactivating and deactivating it periodically. Facebook and Instagram however, have an indefinite deactivation period so it can be reactivated whenever.
Why am I quitting social media for a year?
I’ve had stints of social media purges before. From what I can recall, these include a harmless Facebook deactivation for only a couple of weeks a couple years ago and actually deleting my Instagram account in like 2013 after my girlfriend broke up with me (sadcat.jpg). We’ve all been there, right? Anyway, I’ve have my taste of what it’s like living without social media, but not for an entire year since I first created my Facebook account. (Which I refuse to look up because that means I’ll have to reactivate it again haha.) But I remember I had it in high school. As an estimation, we’ll say my Facebook account was created in 2008. That means I’ve been on social media fairly actively between Myspace, Facebook, Instagram, and more recently Twitter, for nearly 15 years.
So why the one year hiatus? In all honestly, it just sounded like a solid length of time for a “real break” from social media. Also, I was reading someone’s article about their experience with purging from social media for a year and the benefits they had so that inspired me too.
How do I feel about leaving social media?
It’s only day two but I feel great haha. I think I’ve wanted this for a while now but have just never made the commitment to actually do it.
Truthfully, its mildly alarming to think that over a third of my life has been spent being active on social media. (I’m 28 at the time of writing.) I look back now and wonder what could I have done had I used my time doing something else.
As I get older, I become more aware of how valuable time and my youth is. I’ve only got one life and I really don’t want to mess it up by wasting it on things with minimal return — I mean this in a philosophical and monetary sense.
What do I expect?
During my one year leave, I expect a few things to happen. Below are four predictions that I feel confident I will experience.
#1. I’ll go through some sort of social media withdraw
This should be a given. Our brain literally goes through mini endorphin rushes whenever we experience positive interactions on social media. It’s safe to expect a withdraw after so long. I anticipate diminishing bursts of depression and anxiety.
Since I can predict this reaction, I’ll be attempting to counteract it with exercising daily. Exercise stimulates endorphins so in theory, this should help ease the transition away from social media. My move goal on my apple watch is set to burn at least 300 calories a day. This will be my minimum activity goal.
#2. The withdrawal period will pass
I’ll get over the withdraw and the want to log in, that is. After some time passes, I’m sure I’ll find ways to enjoy time that will keep me focused completely in that moment, without a chance for anything social media related to even creep in. Also, I’m pretty headstrong about personal commitments. (Have I mentioned I self-taught my way into the tech industry?)
#3. I’ll develop better mental and emotional clarity
I imagine this will happen simply because I won’t be participating in the volatile frequency of social media endorphin rushes. Plus, with all the time not being spent on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, I’ll find better, more rewarding ways to use my time.
#4. Relationships will become more “real” and meaningful
I had over 600 friends on Facebook, over 600 followers on Instagram, and over 200 followers on Twitter. But how many of these people actually knew me? How many did I really know? How many would I actually call a friend?
Before deactivating my accounts, I posted about my departure and included my phone number for those who wanted to stay in touch. And if anyone really wants to get in touch with me, I’m sure they could just ask around to find my contact information.
While I’ve appreciated the DM of a funny Instagram post or the annual “Happy birthday” note on Facebook, I am ready to feel what life is like without these digital pleasantries. And I suspect that since any interactions I have going forward will be in person, that they will naturally be more meaningful. Certainly, more stimulating.
I’m sure there will be other interesting happenings during this hiatus. Only time will tell. If and when they do happen though, and I find it noteworthy, I’ll be sure to write about it here.
My why: finding my happy balance.
As a millennial living in the widely connected yet lonely digital age, I think documenting this experiment is important. Perhaps others can learn from it or might have interest in taking a social media cleanse themselves.
There is no doubt that technology and connectedness is an important part of our lives now. But after nearly 15 years “on”, I’d like to rediscover life again and find my happy balance in the digital and physical world.
This concludes my broadcast message.
Hey look at you, you made it to the end! Thanks for reading! I hope it was enjoyable and lent some insight.
As this experiment continues, I’ll be writing about it here from time to time. If interested in staying updated, you can sign up for my newsletter. In addition to updates on newly published articles, I may also send the occasional personal message reserved only for my subscribers.