7 Day Social Media Diet – Best Thing I Ever Tried

There are multiple studies (here, here, here) linking social media to depression and unhappiness. As a huge advocate for happiness, I wanted to test out these studies for myself.

How better to do that than to go on a social media diet aka absolutely no (zilch, nada, zero) social media for 7 days?

For this diet I tracked the number of times I looked at social media. These were my daily averages for a week:

  • Instagram  – 10 times per day
  • Facebook – 12 times per day
  • SnapChat – 8 times per day

They were a lot higher than I ever thought they would be. They are so high that I was close to not sharing them out of embarrassment.

Rules for the 7 day Diet

I am absolutely under no circumstances allowed to open up social media. If I accidentally open up the app or the page on my browser I must immediately close it. No exceptions.

I am however not disabling the accounts and allowing myself to receive push notifications on my phone. I want to see how tempted I am to open the apps after seeing notifications and how strong my will power is in resisting the temptations.


Day 0 – Initial thoughts

I’ve been planning to do this Social Media diet for a couple weeks. In preparation I have been much more conscious of how much I go on them (see numbers above). After writing down those numbers and seeing how much I rely on social media for entertainment, I have a feeling this is going to be much harder than I first thought.


Day 1 – First Day

Okay, yeah, definitely a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I have opened Instagram and Facebook unconsciously at least 3 or 4 times each.

I noticed that the second I unlock my phone I click on Instagram. Literally, right after I unlock my lock screen I open the Instagram app. My fingers are programmed to open it without even purposefully wanting to or thinking “I should go on Instagram”.

What is wrong with me?! I had no idea it was that immediate and unintentional.

I realized my brain always needs to be busy. I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not scrolling through Instagram or watching Snapchat stories on my phone. My thoughts need to be occupied by something or I start to feel weird. It is strange not having something to focus on.

When I’m in the car sitting at the light I pull out my phone. Sitting around with my friends I pull out my phone.

Food for thought. Why do I need every single minute of my day busy with thoughts? Does my mind really need to be preoccupied every second? Why am I not able to just sit in my own thoughts in silence?


Day 2 – Still Hard

I am still mindlessly opening the apps. I am not going to lie to you, I accidentally opened Instagram at least 4 times today. I promise it was unconscious and I followed the rules by closing it immediately!

However, I was really tempted to open Snapchat at brunch today. I was eating at one of my favorite brunch spots and it killed me not to share my beautiful plate of food. I’m hoping this diet makes my will power stronger overall.

I also feel really out of the loop socially. I was just informed that two people I know got engaged! Neither of these newly engaged girls are my close friends but it was weird not knowing. The friends who told me said they only found out through pictures posted on Instagram and Facebook.

Food for thought. Today the question popped into my head, what is the point of my phone? We use it so much and feel so much pain if something happens to it but we only use it for a few purposes, taking pictures, texting/calling, social media, and music.

If that’s all these pieces of metal are good for, why are we so attached?


Day 3 – First Day At Work

I did not realize how much I used Facebook, looked at Facebook, and even relied on Facebook for some sort of entertainment at work.

Every free minute I have or every time I’m not doing work, my mind is programmed to go on it. My fingers unconsciously go to the browser and type ‘f’ and that’s all google chrome needs to know that I want to go to Facebook. It populates the link and I hit enter.

Two keys, ‘f’ and ‘enter’, and bam I’m taken to Faceboook instantly.

I also didn’t realize that Facebook is my predominate source of news. Luckily, I get TheSkimm, which gives me the highlights of what happened in the world but everything else is from Facebook. I don’t think that is necessarily a win for Facebook or me. My feed is filled with ‘my friends’ most of whom think exactly like me.

Food for thought. Do I believe what I really believe? Or do I believe it because I’m constantly being exposed to and reinforcing only the beliefs that I see on social media?


Day 4 – Getting Easier

Happy to report that it is much easier not to go on social media. I have no idea what’s going on in other people’s live but honestly, I don’t really care.

I did open it twice accidentally, which is really frustrating but I think it will take time. I still felt compelled at work to look at Facebook when I was bored but I resisted. I redirected my brain to do something more productive and worthy of my time.

I worked on things for a friend’s bachelorette party, did some writing for the blog, and even wrote down some personal goals.

Food For Thought. How much do I really care about the lives of people that I don’t even talk to anymore? Do I really need to know what they are doing all the time?


Day 5 – Doing good

Today it felt completely normal not to be using any social media. I only unconsciously opened Instagram once today but hopefully this will stop soon. But I know it will take time since my mind has been doing this for years.

I think I do feel happier without social media. This experiment has had me focus my thoughts on myself. I am not looking at other people’s lives and comparing myself to them or wishing for what they have.

Instead I’m continuing to focus on myself and what I want. This has led to some great time soul searching. I can more easily know what I really want and filter out the things I only think I want because of social media exposure.

Food For thought. Is this how productive and motivated I could have been if I wan’t spending so much time looking at and preoccupied with other people’s lives? Maybe the researchers were really on to something.

How can you not compare yourself to other people when you are exposed to it everyday and from everywhere?


Day 6 – Don’t Need Ya

Finally at the point where I don’t unconsciously open the apps. I still feel compelled to open them when I am bored or have a free thought but I can now consciously stop myself. Woohoo!

I feel like it is completely normal not opening my phone or the app whenever I get bored or my mind is unoccupied with something else. I can actually sit in my own thoughts without it feeling strange like I did the first couple days of this diet.

The only small problem I ran into was when I wanted to show my parents pictures my friend had posted on Instagram. I wasn’t able to show them because I was on this diet.

At first I was kind of disappointed because I really wanted them to see the pictures but then I realized that I don’t have to show them today. I am only one day away from the end of my diet. They can wait to see these pictures and I can be patient.

Food for thought. If I don’t need social media is it worth having? Does it add value to my life? Or is it really just hindering me?


Day 7 – Last Day

Today was even easier than yesterday. It feels like I never relied on social media for entertainment and never used it as constantly as I was. I barely even felt compelled to open any of my social media apps or pages. I didn’t even unconsciously open any of them once or even go to open them.

Eye opening doesn’t even begin to describe this experience. I can see how using social media constantly was negatively affecting my life. My mind feels free after these 7 days.

I know in all honesty that I will probably go and open all of my apps tomorrow, but that is mostly because I have all of these stupid notifications to get rid of.

No food for thought today! Please read my conclusions below.


Conclusions

As I just said on my last day (in case you didn’t read and just skipped to the end), I think this was one of the most thought provoking and enlightening weeks I have experienced. It has taught me a lot about myself.

The experience definitely proved to me was that the research is right. Social media has the power to make you depressed and unhappy.

The most important lesson I learned is I don’t need it. 

When you are on social media constantly, you are assaulted with other people’s lives and only the good parts. Before this diet, when I wasn’t consciously aware of the ways that it was affecting me, the effects were almost always negative.

You are automatically programmed to compare yourself to other people. You will wonder why your life isn’t as good as theirs is. You will wonder why you aren’t as far in your career or your relationships or your goals.

If you are only comparing yourself to the good parts of people’s lives, your life may feel dull, boring, and unaccomplished. When it is full.

If these thoughts were limited to only when you were on social media, it may be okay but they aren’t. These negative thoughts will continue on after you have closed the app or your browser.

While I was on this diet, I wasn’t preoccupied thinking about other people’s lives. I spent time that would have been spent comparing myself to others thinking about what I wanted, making a plan, and acting on it. It also made me extremely more productive, or at the very least less lazy.

Honestly, this has also taught me I don’t really care about most of the people I see on social media. The people that I do care about, I am close enough to that I will hear good news from them directly. I can share in their success, not through a ‘like’ or a ‘heart’ on social media but through actual interaction and celebration.

Even though I don’t need it, am I still going to use social media? Hell, yes! But from now on with a healthy mindset and a lot less frequently.

The biggest take away here is not to stop using social media completely but be conscious of what you are consuming. Take everything I see with a grain of salt. All of it is not real. People only post the upsides of their lives and the things that they believe are true.

Please take the time to sit in your own thoughts. You don’t need social media to make your thoughts for you.


Thank you for reading! Come back for new posts every Tuesday! 


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