As I have in the past years, I decided to set a goal for myself at the start of a new year.
This year, my resolution was something that’s been on my mind for several years —something I’ve always wanted to eliminate from my life but was too scared to let go of. In 2016, I have decided to withdraw myself from the so-called world of social media.
As a psychology major, the concept of social media and how it has come to dictate the life of so many people in this generation has always fascinated me. Of course, the negative consequences of being a social media user is well-known to many, though no one seems to care.
We are more connected than ever, but the relationships are growing weaker.
For me, the most fatal casualty was my confidence. Whether I was at school, home or work, my hand constantly reached for my phone. Facebook gave me speedy updates on my friends’ relationship status (I must say, this was quite entertaining), Instagram let me know what they ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Snapchat reminded me of how fun other people’s weekends were, unlike mine.
This habit became poisonous to my self-esteem, and I started comparing myself and my life to others. I seemed to have fewer friends, less fun, less money and less talent than anyone I knew.
So I started this project with high hopes and big dreams. And I must say, initially, I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be. Not being able to keep track of my old high school friends was hard; I wanted to see who my friends’ new best friends were, how they’re coping in college and whether they still care about me — whether I still matter to them. However, the temptation of the blue app store phased out and the “install” button seemed less desirable over time.
Unfortunately, there were serious side effects. With all this uncontainable free time on my hands, I started a bad addiction of online shopping. It relieved me of my boredom while eating away at my wallet. Then, I turned to a new way to tackle this problem: Though I didn’t have social media, I still had my phone — and with this incredible device, I could text, call and FaceTime all I wanted. If you followed the trend, this didn’t end well either. I realized that no one really liked to text or call anymore. Social media allowed you to be connected with whomever whenever you wanted to, but calling and texting required effort on both sides — which, I realized, is extremely difficult with conflicting schedules and time zones.
Then came my last resort: I tried new hobbies and habits. I had more time for schoolwork and new experiences at college. I started to read the news more and became more interested in politics. I constantly tried to retain a variety of information through books and newspapers, and even started writing for the school newspaper (if you’ve noticed). Though faced with an infinite amount of distractions and challenges, I turned to a healthier lifestyle by focusing on investing in myself rather than others.
Looking at the calendar, I become well aware of the fact that I have a long journey ahead of me. However, I am proud to say that this is the most happy I have been about myself in a long time. Now I give myself credit for my accomplishments and compliment myself for who I have become rather than criticize myself for things I couldn’t be.
So if you are like me, I encourage you to go Facebook-free, Snapchat-free and Instagram-free.
There will be so many moments you will capture with your eyes rather than your camera lens and conversations you can engage in rather than comment on. And most of all, your phone battery will last for a lifetime.