Mid-May: I felt frustrated with myself for using too much social media.
I knew it was too much because
- I would spend hours daily scrolling through my feed and explore pages.
- I would end up scrolling mindlessly, and getting absorbed into the “black hole”.
- I would feel like I’m in a daze and I couldn’t focus on my work and meetings.
- I would feel tired from staring at my phone screen & consuming content and lack the energy to do anything else.
I was so frustrated with myself! I hated how I was wasting so much precious time and attention on social media.
I wanted to get rid of my social media addiction. I wanted to take back control over my life and do more.
And so, I did 2 “bold” moves on my mobile phone:
- Logged out of my Instagram personal main account (but still kept my writing account: @andrea_stories_ for creation)
- Disabled and removed YouTube app
I chose only those 2 platforms because they were my most frequently “scrolled” platforms. Like every social media platform, the recommendation algorithm(s) would always show me related (new) content to keep me stuck there…
26 May: My life felt boring.
Without social media, my life felt boring.
Nothing “exciting” was happening around me. There was no new photo, video, or comment popping up in front of my eyes every second or minute. My surroundings, be it at home or in the office, stayed pretty much the same for hours.
My brain craved for excitement and dopamine, something social media was excellent at providing instantly and constantly.
For a few days, I felt the itch. The itch to go back, to open any social media app, and stay there for a while (just a while I promise!). I faced these “withdrawal symptoms”, and relied on my willpower to resist them.
Of course, I knew that willpower was a limited resource and purely relying on it would be unsustainable.
I’ve read before that to get rid of a bad habit, it helps to replace it with a “better” one. Hence, before I logged off from social media, I prepared a list of things I could do when I felt bored:
- Read a book
- Practise Thai
- Read an article
- Brainstorm ideas for blog
- Follow a (tech) tutorial
- Pick up guitar (again)
- Clean or organise my desk
- Clean my room
I intentionally created a fairly long (and ambitious) list, just to let myself see that social media is not the only way to deal with my boredom.
And ambitious the list was, as my guitar remains untouched in the corner of my room, while doing (even) more tech-related tutorials during my working hours as a software engineer seemed tiring…
But hey, I did (most of) everything else on my list! On most days, I would go for a walk in the morning, then read or revise my Thai class materials during pockets of free time or boredom in the day, and finally stretch (and journal!) before I went to bed.
Without social media, I had more time to do other things.
I had the same 24 hours in a day, but logging off from social media “gave” me so much more time to do things in my real life.
In fact, I became so bored that I looked forward to doing those “seemingly un-exciting” small things. I looked forward to my morning walk, sometimes even taking an afternoon walk shortly after eating lunch. I felt like I could slowly stretch and relax before going to sleep as there was no rush. I had time!
Although my life felt more boring, I felt more present and engaged with my reality.
“It’s boring, but it’s real” is the phrase that came to my mind during this period.
A glimpse into the aftermath
After a few days, the “FOMO” subsided as well, especially when I realised that most of what’s posted online is none of my business and doesn’t concern me. My family and friends can still contact me via Telegram / Whatsapp, so I’m not missing out on my true connections.
Without social media, it was so much harder for me to “escape” from hard moments.
I couldn’t scroll and get lost in endless feeds. When I encountered difficult situations, I couldn’t run away as easily anymore. This was something unexpected for me. Over time, I realised I was practising facing those situations head-on, calming myself down and figuring out how to resolve those issues. I think I embrace mental discomfort better now?
I tend to do things with an all-or-nothing mentality and I’m working on seeking balance in everything I do. I think it’s not realistic to completely exit from social media, given how connected the world is online. And I still want some entertainment and I still want to know the best food spots in my country occasionally! Like last weekend, I watched a few videos on YouTube posted by creators whom I feel releases quality content.
I think it’s okay for me to browse through social media once in a while. It can be a nice place for creation too. What I want to work on is not making social media my default go-to place when I’m feeling bored or discomfort 🙏
Thank you for reading!