For completely unknown reasons, when I decided to take a break from social media, something Selena Gomez had written in 2018 resurfaced from the depths of my memory. In an Instagram post she wrote, “As much as I am grateful for the voice that social media gives each of us, I am equally grateful to be able to step back and live my life present to the moment I have been given.”
Why I remembered this is truly one of life’s great mysteries, but it was a great motto for my experiment.
For one week I tried to “live my life present to the moment I have been given.” However, I don’t think it would be an absurd revelation to anyone to say that the moment we’ve all been given right now sucks more than every Selena Gomez song combined. (Sorry for anyone offended by that, but “Come and Get It nah nah nah nah?” No.)
During this time, social media has not been my friend. In fact, social media has been making the situation infinitely worse. First off, I’m tired of Corona and quarantine puns. I’m tired of the same jokes, i.e. my cat is like ‘why are you in my house all the time now, Karen.” And most of all, I’m tired of seeing all these people living their best lives and getting their shit together while I’m sitting here debating whether clean underwear is a must for today.
A few weeks ago, when I deleted all social media, I noticed a few things. I had a lot more conversations, long conversations, with people during the day. I seemed less attached to my phone, even leaving it at home when I left to run errands. In general, my days seemed more productive without these random black holes of time spent blankly scrolling.
The best part though? I stopped caring, wondering and compulsively needing to know what other people were posting. I stopped numbing myself to the little, uneventful, mundane moments of the day, and simply sat through these lulls with my thoughts instead.
How freeing it ultimately was to be “out of the loop.”
Screen time has undoubtedly increased since the outbreak of COVID-19. Although there is a lot of positive content being spread like live concerts, virtual museum tours, fundraising and encouragement for getting through this, I think that taking a step back could also benefit people’s mental health enormously.
Now more than ever, training ourselves to cope with these lulls in our day, to be able to comfortably sit with our thoughts, is essential. It’s overwhelming to be constantly reminded of what other people are doing instead of just focusing on your day, and what “normal” looks like to you right now.
I think social media is a wonderful tool to help a lot of us feel less isolated during this time, but I also think it’s dangerous to use as a coping mechanism. The day can seem daunting without your phone to turn to. I get that. However, if you give yourself that space, these moments will become more meaningful because you are present for them.
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