I’d like to introduce this post by saying that these are my thoughts from what I experienced while removing myself from the social world for seven days. Many articles published have advocated spending extended periods of time away from the social space, but going into this experiment, seven days felt feasible.
I should preface this by saying that I’m not hugely active or ‘into’ social media as a whole (or so I thought). I placed an app tracker on my phone and computer for three months before going into this which told me that on average I spend 15 minutes on Instagram a day and 5 minutes collectively on the rest (Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat for me). YouTube was my biggest waste of time coming in at 30 minutes a day on average. A quick Google search reveals this useful infographic showing the average time ‘people’ spend on social media a day:
The article mentions ‘teens’, but doesn’t specify as to which age demographic the data is based around. For 18 – 35-year-olds, I’d say this is extremely fair, maybe a little under average for most. It totals 2 hours a day and goes on to show you how long this would total in an average lifetime:
Please note, this figure will only grow with advancements in VR, I’d estimate this number would easily double if not triple.
Then, what you could have spent all those hours doing instead of scrolling:
Coming back to myself, If we round it up, I’m spending around an hour on social media a day.
On to what I learnt.
My personal experience with taking a seven-day social media deprivation included:
- A sudden influx of ideas
- Increased mental clarity
- Deeper thinking
- Improved mood
- Increased happiness
- Decrease in anxiety and worry
All this from only taking seven days off social media. I honestly couldn’t believe the difference stepping away from something so mundane, that seems to have become such a huge part of our lives could make.
Many of the articles I have previously read advocate spending around 1 – 4 weeks away from all media to feel the full effects of media deprivation. That may be true, but would also be impossible for many, especially those whose businesses or income is dependant on them using those social networks. However, by setting up email autoresponders, and scheduling your social posts in advance with tools like ‘Buffer‘ you can welcome a little vacation time. I didn’t find seven days to be an issue, nor did I miss anything while I was gone.
Something else I observed was how present I was in everyday situations. My mind wasn’t working continuously in the background, like a minimised computer application, all of the free space was devoted to the current task.
Since conducting this little experiment, I’ve gotten my social browsing habits down to 20 minutes a day using website blockers such as ‘Freedom’ in case the need to check those notifications arises, as well as leaving my phone in aeroplane mode for the first few hours of the day. The trick that I believe to have made the most significant difference for me was turning off all social notifications. If left on, notifications are continually interrupting your day, yet many people don’t find this an issue. I want to check my social feeds on my time, when I’ve finished my work, not be at the mercy of others.
My productivity has since skyrocketed which perhaps should be expected as you’re removing the main distraction and procrastination tool from your life.
Don’t let your notifications hijack your day.