Picture this: It’s 7am, and the obnoxious sound of your alarm has just woken you. Weary eyed, you check your Facebook messages. Instagram has kindly notified you that your cousin’s boyfriend’s sister’s best friend (whom you’ve never met) has posted for the first time in a while…probably best you check that out. You tap through all of your stories, before scrolling through Twitter. You have just enough will-power to avoid TikTok, knowing full well you’ll never get out of bed if you fall down that rabbit hole of mindless dance routines and ‘put a finger down’ videos; that’s OK, you’ll save it for your bus ride to Uni.
Does this morning routine sound familiar? You’re not alone. A study conducted by We Are Social (2020) indicated that the average Australian spends 5 hours and 41 minutes online per day; 1 in every 3 of those minutes is explicitly spent on social media.
In its inception, it was deemed a harmless means of entertainment. Now an inextricable part of our daily lives, it has the power to control how we see ourselves and the world around us, shaping everything from what outfit we’ll be wearing to drinks this weekend to US election outcomes. Like pulling down an old-time slot machine arm, we hope for something new to stimulate us every time we refresh our screen. We’re longing for a new comment, like or DM to provide that sweet hit of dopamine we’ve become all too addicted to.
So how do we save ourselves from this all-consuming pandemonium bursting with influencer bikini pics and teeth whitening treatments you ask? Like most addictions, experts say the best form of treatment is to go cold turkey. *Queue the ‘social media detox.’
What is a social media detox?
A social media detox is a conscious elimination of social media use and consumption for a set period. Ideally, you’d be deleting and removing all social media apps from your phone, and in some cases where it’s possible, temporarily disabling your accounts.
What are the benefits?
Ever sat down to write an essay and found yourself 2 hours deep in the thread of a Twitter rant? By eliminating the distractions of notifications and the temptations to take a “quick look” whenever we have a moment to spare, you’ll have more time to get things done.
LESS COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
When we’re constantly being spammed with relationship status updates, new car selfies and envious holiday snaps, we naturally compare our lives to those beautifully curated on our screens. When we no longer have a constant influx of comparisons, the concept of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ comes into play.
RECONNECT WITH THE REAL WORLD
Ever found yourself more concerned with taking the perfect picture for Instagram while on holidays instead of enjoying yourself? Ever been to a festival and filmed your favourite act rather than just taking it in? Unplugging from the digital world will allow you to live in the moment.
If eliminating the time you’d typically spend scrolling through your phone teaches you anything, it will be a realisation of how much energy you truly devote to your screen. When you return to social media, this new-found mindfulness will have you questioning if you really need to check your phone whenever you can.
With all that said, social media’s benefits, particularly the comfort it has brought many during this COVID landscape, cannot be ignored. The fact of the matter is, cutting social media out of your life for the long haul is unrealistic and arguably problematic. However, if you’re finding you no longer have control over your digital habits, a break from scrolling may be just what you need to realise the extent of these platforms’ influence over your day.
So challenge yourself to delete those apps you spend a little too much time on, it can be for as little as a week. The “day for it” and açaí posts will be there when you get back, we promise.