The No Social Media Challenge
“It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time”
I started the no social media challenge today and it was the most liberating day of my life. I had an amazing experience, like none other. Fantastic.
Recently I sat down to write a list of the things that add value and the things that take value out of my life. I realized that I had one thing written down that I didn’t need anymore, kind of an “aha” moment. We are all very aware, through social media ironically, of the effects of social media on our thought processes, our interactions and the idea that we are trying to project the best version of ourselves to the world all the time. We are constantly posting the #ThrowbackToBetterTimes or #NoFilter but truthfully, life is never lived in a throwback or a filter. As a society we have become so engulfed in filtering our lives through our means of social interaction i.e. social media that we have caused ourselves to live a very insecure and brittle existence, one that can be shattered in a moment by a cruel comment or a lack of likes on our pictures. Nowadays we feel compelled to wish our closest relatives and friends’ a happy birthday or anniversary through social media rather than in person and I think it’s fucking crazy, to say the least. The story that we are trying to portray to the world is one that is so compelling that it weaves its way slowly into our everyday existence. If you see something funny, you feel obliged to take a picture and tell the world, as if to say, “If I don’t have a picture, it didn’t happen”. We have altered our story to fit the narrative that we believe the world needs to hear from us in order to fit in.
On the other hand, there are people who are not always the ones to post things on social media, but are constantly looking through it, scrolling and wasting their precious existence on planet earth, looking at an array of pixels on a screen. Much of our lives are now spent looking at screens, some of which is unavoidable, but whenever we have the opportunity we should spend time interacting and enjoying life’s experiences. Much of what we see through Instagram, Facebook etc. leads us to have an exaggerated perception of a ‘happy life’ and this adversely affects our ability to live in a blissful moment to moment experience.
(Just to clear things up… I find myself in each of these categories at times – trying to portray an image to the world and not allowing a nice moment to pass without capturing it and that is why I am writing this blog and doing this challenge.)
Josh Waitzkin, who I have talked about in previous posts, said something on the Tim Ferriss Show that struck a chord with me. Josh alluded to the idea that in transition, people are constantly looking to fill the void with something and nowadays it seems to be our phones. What exactly does Josh mean by filling the void? Consider this for a second… when you wake up, what is the first thing you do? When on the toilet, what do you do? When finishing a workout or between sets in a workout, what do you do? See the common denominator? Whenever we are in transition from one thing to another or perhaps every time we find ourselves daydreaming, we bring ourselves back to the thing that we know will make us comfortable, our cell phone. See the problem? All the times that our creativity could be tapped into, we quickly stop it by checking our phones and scrolling the endless feeds of social media.
What is the No Social Media Challenge?
I write this blog because I am doing a 30-day, no social media challenge. I started the challenge yesterday and yesterday was a fucking superb day. So what does it involve? What am I allowed to do, not allowed to do etc.?
Here’s My List
- No checking social media – ever!
- No Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
- The only thing that I am allowed to check is, Facebook messenger, as there are people on there that I interact with and I don’t see the problem with that. It is the same as texting. I have this app on my phone still and I am not allowed to check Facebook messenger on any other platform, therefore, opening FB messenger is like opening Whatsapp or an iMessage.
- Deleted all apps off my phone.
What Am I Hoping to Achieve?
By doing this 30-day no social media challenge, I am taking something completely out of my life. Stoic philosophy would say that you can have pleasures in your life, but you must control them rather than them controlling you. Of course, you could say – “Well just have some discipline” and I would agree, but I have tried that and failed. On the times that I haven’t failed, I have completely removed one or many of the social media outlets from my life for a period of time. This time I am removing all of them for 30 days. The goal here is to completely eradicate the compulsive behaviour that I possess to check social media and my phone, up to 50 times per day, or even more. The other thing I am trying to eradicate is the needless hours wasted, looking at things that have no benefit to my life or the lives of the people that I care about. I write this blog one day into my 30-day challenge and already, I have found a mental clarity more potent than anything else I have done, including meditation. I feel free. Free to experience life’s experiences without the burden of having to take a picture or think, “wouldn’t this be funny on Instagram”?
In a nutshell, here is what I believe the positive points of this exercise will be.
- Greater clarity and appreciation for the present moment.
- More time to focus on more important things like relationships, having intimate connections with those around me, reading, writing and more time focusing on a different social platform which is this blog.
- Greater understanding and appreciation of what it is to create my own expectations and understanding of the world, rather than creating expectations based on what I see in social media.
- A greater sense of self. Who Am I? Who do I want to be?
- Less needless time wasted.
All in all, this short no social media challenge is to abstain from something that is detrimental to my mental wellbeing as well as my experience of life. I am sure there are people out there who have social media but are not controlled by it and I am sure there are others who are afraid to admit that they are controlled by it. Truthfully, all social media is an idea and nothing more. Of course, it can be used as a tool to accelerate your status as a human being or perhaps even your self-worth/perception that people have of you, but I have only found it to be detrimental to my wellbeing when I allow it to have so much control over me. I would encourage you to monitor your day-to-day experience and notice the number of times you use or check any form of social media. Of course, social media, like a lot of things, can be justified and reasons for using it can also be justified – I understand that. Some reasons are genuine and others are to grab the attention of other human beings so you can feel as though you are the master of a fraction of a non-existent world, one that has become such a big part of society that it somehow controls our everyday behaviour without actually existing.
Don’t be afraid of the void that the no social media challenge will leave in your life. You will learn to fill it with more positive and productive exercises.
FYI – it is 9:23 PM and I have 54% battery, another upside to the no social media challenge! Here’s the screenshot.
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