I survived a week without social media

Ellie Prober, Lifestyle Editor

Graphic by YuLian Leshuk

My heart breaks as I click the “x” in the corner of each app. Despite all the others cluttering my screen, my phone seems bare without the brightly colored social media icons. For five days, this emptiness would be my life. 

From Monday, March 12 at midnight until the same time on Saturday, March 17, I eliminated all forms of social media. This included Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr — all apps I regularly use.

A study from the Royal Society for Public Health called “#StatusofMind” inspired this idea. According to the study, social media negatively impacts mental health, causing anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, negative body image and fear of missing out.

Thinking of my own mental health, I prepared for a week that could either torment me with the desire to have online interaction or benefit my mental health. Below is a look back at the week: 

On Monday, I begin the day as I do every day. I roll over, then unlock and unplug my phone. I turn off my alarm and try to open Instagram. When I don’t see the app, I panic before remembering I deleted everything. With nothing better to do, I drag myself out of bed. I’m ready 10 minutes earlier than usual, so I set my alarm 10 minutes later the next day. That’s a small victory for this week.

At school, I find myself bored by the lack of things to do. At times, my fidgeting hands search for some other app to refresh, which ends up being PowerSchool. 

After arriving at home, I’m able to finish my homework quickly without the distraction of constantly refreshing social media.Because of this, I can go to sleep earlier.Gone are my droopy eyes during class each day, replaced by bright eyes, a focused mind and a raised hand to answer questions. 

On Tuesday, I’m shocked to look into the courtyard and see a winter wonderland in March. Usually a sight like this would be on Snapchat before I’m near a window, so the bright white light filtering in feels a bit blinding before my eyes adjust.

By the time I reach Wednesday, I’m becoming more satisfied with my new lifestyle. Through the time looking up from my phone, I’ve been forced to see the faces of other students. While most other faces are angled down as students move from class to class, those who aren’t looking down have started to wave to me or say “Hello,” an interaction which I didn’t expect to enjoy but is surprisingly welcome during the day. 

On Thursday, I hardly think about my phone. As I stand in line to use the bathroom during the passing period, however, I’m reminded of how long it takes some people to use the bathroom while distracted by phones. Perhaps if everyone deleted social media, I wouldn’t be waiting in line for the entire 10 minutes.

Friday goes by quickly, and soon enough it’s past midnight.I enter the app store and redownload everything. As the apps appear again, I log into each account with the desperation of a hungry predator about to pounce on its prey. My friends’ lives are once again displayed before me. 

But should I look? Will I be tired? Will I get homework done? Will I redevelop my social media addiction if I allow this intrusive presence back in my life? I feel as though I am returning to some toxic relationship that could break the newly-restored balance in my life. Despite my worries, I open Snapchat, click the top circle and tap through each story. Part of me feels connected, but the other part of me feels like I’ll regret the return of social media. 

While I did go back to social media after the week was over, I’ve seen the benefits of life without it, and I’m not afraid to delete the apps again if their presence becomes intrusive. I plan to use social media less frequently, especially while trying to get homework done or when trying to focus. Social media is great, but I discovered something better: reality.