I Quit Social Media for Two Months–Here's What Happened
The pros, cons, and everything in between from my scroll-free 60 days.
After my 30th birthday, I deleted social media from my phone. I wasn’t being overly dramatic as I entered the next decade; I was just looking to reclaim some of my time.
The majority of my adult life has been centered around screened social connectivity. Facebook got its start while I was in high school, a time when my MySpace top eight could influence my entire social calendar. Instagram really took off while I was working my first job post college. Pinterest was my holy grail while planning a wedding and decorating my first home. I’m sure I’m showing my age, but I haven’t even had a chance to venture over to TikTok yet.
In a time where I can shop for a rug from a home décor influencer on IGTV then immediately click over to watch my buddy’s baby giggling in her Instagram Story, there just isn’t enough time in the day to consume it all (and do all of the things in life that actually matter too).
Two days after my birthday I quietly clicked the x above my apps, admitted I was going to miss being overindulged by influencers I’d never met in real life, and set some ground rules. Sixty days later, I logged back in. Here’s what happened along the way.
1. The first few days were a doozy.
Breaking news: The dopamine rush you get from checking your feed is real. I expected to feel liberated from the scroll; instead I craved little red notification bubbles. Muscle memory took my fingers to the vacant space on my home screen constantly in the first week. I cringed each time. Was this really how often I filled the void with a quick scroll? Apparently so.
Subconsciously, I found a replacement: I checked my email more those first 48 hours than I care to know. Work email, personal email, my junk sign-up email that’s clogged with every retail offer imaginable…I not only read through it all, but I was actually excited when new email popped up. Sad, I know. Luckily, I kicked my Gmail binge quickly. Once I started to feel victimized by the sheer volume of emails yelling SALE THIS WEEKEND ONLY, it was over.
2. I was overly aware of how often everyone else was on their phones.
I’m not normally one for phones at the dinner table, but it’s possible I was downright mean to my husband about it during the detox. He wasn’t doing anything out of the norm per say, but laughing at memes in between bites seemed to push my buttons in a whole new way. It felt like I was on the outside of an inside joke he and the rest of the internet were sharing.
And it wasn’t just at the dinner table. In line at the grocery store, waiting for a friend at a coffee shop, stretching before a workout class–everywhere I went photos and captions were sucking all of the attention away from the physical present. The introvert in me let everyone go about their scroll while I quietly questioned the future of screen-free relationships and humanity as we know it. You know, just some casual deep thoughts before reaching the front of the line and scanning my items in the self-checkout so I didn’t have to speak with an associate.
3. I didn’t reduce my screen time as much as I’d hoped, but I did reduce the urge to multitask.
Pre-hiatus, I envisioned my extra time filed with books and a sparkling clean kitchen. In reality I learned most of my time spent on social media was while I was already doing something else. I essentially just eliminated a bit of multitasking. Instead of catching up on the latest posts while walking my dog, I just, well, walked with her. That said, my screen time still stayed pretty high. A few weeks in, the Apple News app on my phone became my new go-to.
4. I took a lot less photos. A lot less.
The urge to capture every little moment went away almost instantaneously, though the need to share stuck around. I found myself sending photos in group texts and family emails more frequently than ever before but with no agenda. Goofy pictures of my dog went to friends I knew would actually appreciate them, not my entire social world. Snaps from travels stayed in my camera roll or ended up printed in frames. It wasn’t that I didn’t document, I just didn’t do so excessively.
5. I connected with friends and family more frequently and individually. I still missed some very important life updates.
Disconnected from the day-to-day happenings streaming from Instagram Stories, I actually had to reach out to friends to hear about their lives and stop to ask co-workers about their weekends–no pre-roll intel before a dinner date. And, not surprisingly, stories straight from the horse’s mouth had a lot more substance. This might have been my favorite part of this experiment: actively talking and texting. If I wanted to know something, I didn’t check their profile; I reached out and asked.
My least favorite? Missing out on big announcements. Social media is so engrained in how we communicate that it’s practically assumed that if you post major updates, your whole world will know about it. I had to wait for my husband to send me screenshots of breaking news. Multiple engagements, a cousin’s new baby, a distant relative’s passing–I heard about them all second hand.
Would I do it again?
Truth be told, logging back in was somewhat anti-climactic. With a push of a button, faces, likes, and videos cluttered my screen, leading to a quick account cleanse. I admittedly fell back into old habits; logging on coincided with a big end-of-the-year trip, and the need to capture was hard to contain. Once I was back home, I reassessed my recent zero to sixty. I don’t think I’ll be completely disconnecting again, but I’m definitely re-entering with a new frame of mind.