On breaking up with social media

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash

Would I do it if my phone had never broken down? Good question.

But there I was, on one cold October morning, waking up, reaching out for my phone to check the time, when suddenly, it didn’t turn on.

You must be kidding me, right? It was this moment, and many more after that made me realise how much we depend on our 5.8 inches screen and all the applications installed within.

The connection is strong.

When I brushed off the initial shock and adjusted to this temporarily new reality, I did some research and ordered a new one. In other words, five days without a phone. And, while getting used to life without a phone was indeed difficult (how on Earth I was supposed to do my banking?), living without some parts of it was more than possible.

I’ve never used any apps that would either count the time I spent on my phone, nor I had any that would block me from spending my time on some apps. That is why I never really thought about how much time I waste on the phone, in general.

It’s not like I wasn’t able to survive those few days without it, but that itchy feeling or unconscious need of just having the possibility of grabbing my phone and use it was unbearable, almost uncomfortable. But maybe this was what I needed, what we all need or should try to do from time to time.

By now, I bet it wasn’t difficult for you to guess what was causing the biggest waste of time for me. Yep, you got it. All those lovely want-to-connect-you-with-the-world apps.

The day my new phone arrived, almost all apps found their way back. On the other hand, 90% of my ‘social apps’ were gone. I admit I had a hard time saying bye to Instagram completely. I love photography, and I must agree there are some pretty good ones out there, hiding in the Instagram feed. I mean after you scroll through an annoying amount of sponsored ads, influencers and chronological mess of your feed.

And so started my 30-day experiment of trying to recover life before social media as we knew it. Or remember it, at least?

How did it go?

Breaking up with social media was easier than getting rid of your cocaine addiction. However, it was a tad more difficult than breaking a habit of drinking coffee daily. Sounds too harsh?

Did you know that Facebook seems to have a similar effect on your brain as cocaine? Google it!

Day 1
First days are always the hardest. Waking up, reaching out for the phone to switch off the annoying alarm, ready to swipe quickly through news & social media routine. I have to confess; it was a bit weird to look at the screen with almost zero notifications of likes, posts, updates and other useful crap. But well, I’d better get my ass out from the bed, get some freshly made coffee and do my 10 minutes on Duolingo.

Day 3
Okay, I miss funny dogs, cats videos & gifs, you got me. I mean, sometimes it’s just good to look at something ridiculously amusing, right? Why would I want to remove fun from my life? (This is my brain trying to navigate me back to apps download and get back on social media track.)

Day 8
Why am I doing this to myself? Browsing news on the actual internet instead of scrolling through a personalised feed that comprises of my prefered topics, brands, news sources, comedians, tv series, you name it. On the other side, it also feels nice to find news you want to read without going through a ton of useless sponsored crap on top of everything else.

Day 9
Without social media on my phone, I tend to spend less time on it overall. So, commuting to work in the metro or train has become one exciting experience for me. While we claim to be more social thanks to all ‘connecting services’ we have, it looks to me like we are not even able to bear a single look in the eye anymore. Sure, in the morning, I get it. But what about other daily interactions?

It’s incredible what we are capable of doing to avoid such a simple human contact like looking into each other’s eyes.

It’s fun to observe how uncomfortable people have become. Even if for a split of a second. It seems like we are way more comfortable with putting our heads down, pretending someone texted us, or there is something essential in that feed we try scrolling through so frantically.

Day 13
The internal struggle of trying to reduce the presence of social media in my life while at the same time I’m working on solutions on how to optimise their use for the business. Why oh why!!! It must be the biggest prank I played on myself.

Day 20
This one is interesting. Emojis, pictures, tagging. I guess this is the new way of communication in the 21st century? It’s funny how some time off social media shows you not only who your real friends are, but if you actually have anything else that connects you with each other. It also shows you if you’ve ever had anything else than pictures you were tagged in to talk about.

I have this one friend who loves to tag our mutual friends and me in all kinds of hilarious pictures. And yes, they are funny. I’m always laughing hard. Sadly, this is how my friend communicates the majority of the time. It almost seems like he doesn’t have anything else to say to me. I’ve recently met our mutual friend, who mentioned to me how the two of them had a call a few days ago. The call started something like this: ‘Oh, I’m glad you call, I thought you’ll only end up tagging me in pictures for the rest of the life. It’s nice to hear your actual voice, again.

Day 27
Life without social media feels quieter, more real, more social. Friends feel more real outside of the virtual world. I’m glad I can walk to a restaurant and enjoy my food without the need to document and air it ‘live’, but enjoy it right there, at the very moment it’s served to me.

Three months and zero posts later

It’s been almost three months since I’ve finished my ‘experiment’ and funny enough I don’t feel any real void in my life after not having all these channels that are supposed to make me more connected back in my phone.

And even though this is only a feeling, because I don’t believe there is much of privacy left in the world where all kinds of terms and conditions apply, my real life feels more private. Comment free. Zero influencer crap. I guess FYRE documentary couldn’t come at a better time. I mean, what the hell?

Is social media just the biggest prank of all times?

Looking at the amount of time we spend on social media, things we post, feelings the content you see evokes in you, I mean don’t you think social media is one of the biggest ironies in the world and the face of humanity?

We’re very skilled in developing apps that have become an inevitable part of our lives. And looking at the bright side of things, no one can deny they aren’t helping us to connect over the long distance, share, communicate, grow business or else. At the same time, we had to come up with apps that prevent us from wasting too much time on them?

We have become very good at using them to waste our time, indulging ourselves in fake realities where many people suffer from having FOMO of not being where everyone else is or was. We are getting depressed because we don’t have things others might have, not living lives others do. Why so many people obsess about the lives of others they’ve never met? Isn’t this one perfect irony in pair?

Will I ever be able to say a definite ‘bye’?

I have to say that despite having gone through the detox, social media are rooted way too much even in my life. While making a conscious choice of not having them back on my phone helps a lot, I find my myself drawn back to it from time to time. More than anything, this experience helped me to realise how I want to spend my time, whether it’s five minutes, one hour or a whole day. If I go on social media, I want to go there with a concrete purpose, not an aimless scrolling. If I want to share something with my friends, I’ll do that over a glass of beer, face-to-face if possible, not tagging someone. I don’t want to feel I’m not able to bear such a simple human contact as looking into someone else’s eyes. I want to know my friendships are real. Most of all, I want to have the opportunity to explore, not have everything revealed on feeds. I mean, is there anything left to be explored?

Photo by the author, somewhere in Amsterdam

What do they say when you break it up? Even if you get back together, it will never be the same?

And so here we are, enjoying coffee in a cosy place, somewhere in Amsterdam, phone and social media free, at least over the weekend.

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I enjoy researching different topics, occasionally, I’ll turn them into articles.

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Ada Ubrezi

Ada Ubrezi

I enjoy researching different topics, occasionally, I’ll turn them into articles.

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