That Time I … Gave up social media

Permission from Jenna Kopec Caption: Kopec gave up social media for a month over the summer and while she hasn’t unplugged permanently she has changed her social media habits since.

enna Kopec is a junior communication major with a concentration in journalism and minor in gender studies. She is the co-editor-in-chief at The Current.

Around the beginning of my sophomore year, I took a big interest in improving my mental health. I learned how endorphins can generally help relieve stress — which is why people like the gym so much — and how eating right and drinking water can level your moods and more. Last summer, I saw a popular trend in the conversation about how social media impacts one’s health and popular practice of going on a social media cleanse. Similar in concept to a food cleanse, the practice calls for you to abstain from social media — Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest — for 30 days. I gave it a try.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure that the cleanse was really going to impact me that much. I hadn’t been allowed to use social media as a child so I had only used social media for a couple years. I was incorrect in my assumption. My life was significantly better without social media. I found myself being more productive and doing things that I enjoy more. We often joke about how we’ll just sit around and scroll through social, but it’s true. Without an Instagram feed to journey through or a Facebook feed full of political rants to be angry about, I found myself watching more shows and movies, reading more books and going more places.

There were times, particularly in the first 10 days, that I felt really out of the loop. I wouldn’t know what jokes broke out over social or what what’s-her-name posted. I spoke to a significantly fewer number of people without an array of comment sections and stories for people to reply to. I felt anxious about this at first, probably because of a FOMO, but then I felt free. My friends, who were actually my friends, still talked to me anyway. I cared very little about the happening of what’s-her-face and what’s-his-face anyway. Ultimately without social media, I felt better able to focus without the barrage of notifications. I felt calmer all the time.

As a communication major, it’s not really possible for me to unplug from social media forever. We’re taught to use each one as branding for ourselves and tools to listen to and gauge audiences. I’ve held several positions that focus on social media management for companies, which make the whole bombardment of notifications way worse. So, after my 30 days were up I did go back onto my accounts, but I definitely use each app differently.

Now, I’ll scroll through my feeds, but sometimes I don’t do this for days at a time and I’m always losing snap streaks with my best friend. I put all of my social media apps into a single folder so that they don’t occupy the same amount of visual space on my phone. There are definitely some nights where I scroll instead of do some work and I do enjoy social media, but I treat it more like chocolate now — only a little at a time.