Why I deleted social media (and why you should too)

Why I deleted social media (and why you should too)

Jenna Culpepper, Opinion Editor

In August 2019, I took up an unusual challenge: give up all social media until the end of the calendar year. “Why not,” I thought, and so it began. Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest–any sort of social media I had, I deleted.
The first few days I repeatedly clicked where the apps used to be. In empty or quiet moments where I had nothing to do, I would attempt to turn to social media out of habit. Since I didn’t have it, I was forced to sit with my thoughts.

And before I knew it, I didn’t feel any need to scroll, and I didn’t care what random people I barely knew were doing. I didn’t miss watching random videos on TikTok or scrolling through my Explore page on Instagram. I didn’t experience pressure from having to post or write the perfect caption. In all honesty, it was very freeing.

I did feel left out at first, but eventually I didn’t know what I was being excluded from. I did miss connecting with friends and family I had only on social media. I did experience pressure to redownload it again, questioning from people of why I would do such a thing, and fear of judgement for deleting social media in the first place.

Despite all those things, it was worth every moment. My social media fast taught me one thing: social media can be petty and it has in no way improved the quality of my life. And though that sounds very extreme for someone to say in today’s culture, I believe it whole-heartedly.

One study by the University of Pennsylvania concluded that people who limited their social media use to 30 minutes daily had significantly decreased feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and fear of missing out (FOMO). Another study by West Virginia University showed that negative experiences on social media have a stronger impact than positive ones.

With social media, I felt the need to post–particularly to find something unique to post about. Without it, I felt constant pressure to join again and at points, hopelessly left out of whatever I missed.

Social media is undoubtedly staged. There is nothing authentic about the highlight reel of the 300+ “friends” floating around in your feed. My step back forced me to be in the moment and have real conversations in order to grow my genuine friendships. I stopped looking at the false portraits people painted of themselves and turned to reality.

At the end of the day, social media truly is a personal choice. But I very strongly believe everyone who is buried it in ought to step out of their cave and enjoy more of the moment to moment joys in life. I’ve learned so much more by looking around and having conversations with people than I ever could have by mindlessly scrolling on my phone.

Social media will always be there, but your friends and family and these precious fleeting experiences won’t. It’s necessary to take a break from it at times because you will never know how many funny, priceless, and beautiful things you are missing until you take that one freeing step away from social media and into reality.

I challenge you to consider taking your own break from social media. You never where it may lead you.