You know what they say: if it feels wrong it's probably right. Shutting down for the weekend felt wrong. I had intense FOMO. What if I miss out on something super fun and important? If I don't document it, did it actually happen? What will happen if I don't show the world what I'm doing? What if I stop Snapchatting what I'm drinking? The answer, I'm sure you can predict, is nothing. Nothing happened. Earth didn't stop spinning, people didn't stop loving me - everything was still in its right place.
Backstory: I was at the point where social media and smartphones completely occupied my well-being. Social media services can be handy but it had become too much. When I found myself scrolling through the feeds of people I didn't even know, I knew it was time to do something about my habit. Why was I wasting my time on someone else's life? Comparison got very real. I was comparing myself to people I don't even know and have never met. I had only seen them online. It felt wrong.
Ironically, I had come across a particular Instagram post that got me thinking of about the direction my life was going with respect to technology. What were to happen if I should continue to overly concern myself with the lives of people I don't know? The Instagrammer mentioned if you're always looking at your phone and checking up on other people's lives, you're not living your own life. You're living someone else's. What's the point of that? When I thought about how much time I was focusing on people I didn't know, I was disappointed with how much time I wasted on someone else's life.
I decided to unplug for the long weekend and this is what I found:
To unplug daily is as important as it is to exercise daily.
I've started to start unplugging from my phone an hour before bedtime. I've found it helps me sleep better and I feel so much more relaxed. Additionally, I don't wake up to my phone either. I use it for my alarm in the morning but leave it while I get ready for the day.
Life doesn't have to be solely based on what you post online.
I recognize that there's so much more going on behind the scenes than what people show. Someone might post about their vacation to a luxurious tropical location, but what you don't see is the traveler's diarrhea, missed flights, jet lag. Unplugging helped put that into perspective for me.
I have so much more time to do the things that I actually want to do!
The days feel SO much longer now and I have a better sense of my free time. I'm less at risk for simply going through the motions and living on autopilot. I see how much time I wasted previously on OTHER people - people I don't know. Even having twenty minutes to direct my energies to something I want to do that doesn't involve my phone is enough to keep me happy.
I feel like I'm being more respectful to myself and to other people.
When I'm with others I'm able to distance myself from my phone and really socialize. I've been at dinners where everyone is on their phone and no one is talking. I'd like to think that I do my best to avoid this and be present at all times.
I'm less distracted.
I find I'm able to focus better knowing that I'm working to be more present and less connected to my phone. I'm not checking my phone as often as I used to and looking at my phone is almost a trigger to refocus and get back to the task. Because I'm less distracted, I'm able to reflect more - something I was finding difficult to do when I was tethered to the phone.
I used to confuse likes and views for self worth. My interest in the lives of others had spiraled into a lack of interest in my own. I was confused with the feelings of pleasure I got from social media. It created a fake sense of importance. Right now I'm focusing on what's important outside of social media. I'm less motivated to post about my life and documenting my experiences. I'm placing importance on creating rather than consuming. There are consequences to living life through a screen: FOMO, phone addiction, and distraction are the symptoms. I'm not willing to live that way.