It’s long been accepted that social media is a necessary Evil. With the increased popularity of Tik Tok, instant gratification has now defined the new generation. So? What would happen if a person decided to go off social media for 5 days? I decided to run an experiment and challenge myself to go off Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube for 5 days to see how it would impact my mental health. I was originally going to do this for myself, but I thought since I’m doing this…Why not write an article documenting my experience? Might as well, right?
There were many reasons that made me want to take this break. The main reason was that I felt overstimulated from scrolling on Tik Tok for hours on end. I’m in my first year of university so the workload is lenient, this led me to spend an excess amount of time scrolling. People trauma dumping, snippets of political discourse and the diverse depiction of humanity that is known to be… the internet, made me feel overstimulated. Secondly, after watching Wednesday (twice in a week), I wanted to cultivate my intellectual hobbies. I realized that I have a variety of skills, just like Wednesday, but mine weren’t as advanced because of the time I spent on the internet. I was inspired by the show to improve my Latin. The third and final reason was that I needed a break from people. Other people and certain relationships were making me feel anxious.
When I started this experiment, I noted all my predictions. I predicted that I was going to feel a lot less anxious, I would get bored, I would miss the aesthetic study vlogs that would help me romanticise my life. I predicted that I would develop my intellectual side and be a lot more productive. I predicted that I would have withdrawal symptoms. Finally, I predicted that my loneliness would increase in the absence of the YouTube videos formulating a sense of companionship (ex. book recommendations, commentaries, vlogs, lifestyle challenges etc.)
I felt a lot more comfortable socializing and being alone. I’ve always had trouble with socializing, but I found that I became a lot more comfortable and confident talking to people once I took my break as I wasn’t anxious. I finally got the sense of being the hot mysterious loner walking around campus. Whether I gave off that vibe is irrelevant! (Let’s face it, probably not). I adopted a mindset of not caring what people thought. I accepted that socializing is difficult for me so why be upset when I fumbled a social situation. I was probably going to fuck up again so why care? This made me feel more connected to people because I wasn’t worrying about whether I said the right thing or not. I substitute scrolling on Tik Tok with scrolling on Pinterest which was more relaxing. I felt a lot more present with myself because I didn’t scroll aimlessly. Talking to my friends through messaging apps made me feel more connected to them because my brain compartmentalized and categorized my time instead of it all mixing on one app.
I was originally going to do a full week, but I caved on the 5th day because of boredom. I would explore my interests through YouTube to get an overview before I read a book. However, because I couldn’t do this, I needed intellectual stimulation. Further, I was demotivated because I didn’t have access to aesthetic study content which helped me romanticize studying. Finally, I didn’t pursue my intellectual hobbies as much as I wanted to because I caught a cold, and my mental health wasn’t it that week.
In conclusion, it’s true, I must admit, I should have stuck out two more days, but it was harming me. Overall, the break was needed, now I’m aware of how I can be more mindful when consuming content. I can consume with moderation the content that makes my life better while decreasing the one that ruins my mental health and makes me anxious. This experiment highlighted how much being exposed to other people’s struggles and lifestyle creates a subconscious comparison in our minds that nestles under our skin like a rose thorn. My thoughts on social media are reminiscent of Olivia Roderigo’s song jealousy, jealousy, which accurately captures how that comparison can negatively affect our self-esteem. I don’t hate social media but considering how much it was ruining my life it made me dislike it for what it did to me nonetheless. I leave this experiment, spending a lot less time on social media and a lot more time in the present.