I gave up social media for seven days

A week without social media is not as bad as you think.

I was not going to use social media for an entire week.

The first two nights at 2 a.m. I rolled around restless because the thought of grabbing my phone and opening TikTok consumed my mind. I stayed up tossing and turning thinking about who was commenting on what funny video or who recently posted. There were many times when I almost gave up and wanted to redownload Instagram to stay in the loop.

But I was up for the challenge. 

My Modern Literature teacher, Mr. Aaron Stell, assigned my class to either give up our phones entirely or give up social media for a week as part of an anti-consumer challenge he conducts annually so teenagers can confront their constant connection to the digital world. 

I had been wanting to rid myself of social media for a while. Now I had the perfect opportunity.

I had hobbies I wanted to dabble into, such as learning a new language, learning more about math since I am not the best at it and planning out my future. I’d hoped to play around with these activities for so long but had failed to even begin because I was yet to confront my biggest enemy: my own phone. 

I’d spend up to 10 hours on my phone a day but I was always complaining about not having enough time for my interests. I knew deep down this was not the case. It was finally time to confront the truth. 

During my social media cleanse I got rid of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok in order to release myself from the stress and negativity that the internet and social media bring. 

It was difficult not to t be on social media because it was a part of my everyday routine. I wanted to check in on friends and family as well as my favorite celebrities. I genuinely missed seeing both entertaining and educational videos and listening to TikTok songs that were in my head constantly.

Instead of scrolling endlessly for hours, I decided to do productive activities throughout the day. 

I dedicated my time away from my phone to take care of myself mentally and physically. I  went on daily walks around my neighborhood and enjoyed the nature I had long neglected in my time inside during quarantine. 

I read Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss, M.D which recalls the past traumas of his patients and highlights the journey towards recovery. I finished reading the book quite quickly because I had no handheld distractions.

Throughout the week, I honed my language skills. I completed my French course on Duolingo and kicked off an Italian course. While I wouldn’t call myself fluent in French after learning it on Duolingo, I do consider myself a conversational French expert now.

I even got the chance to practice driving for my upcoming driving test.

Most importantly, I focused on school and got my grades on track by completing missing assignments. I also kept up with my current ones.

The first two nights were the most difficult because I was used to staying up late at night on my phone — oftentimes as late as 3 a.m. All I wanted to do was grab my phone and watch something to ease myself into what I thought was quality sleep. 

What I realized following this experiment is that having my phone nearby cost me my restful nights. No matter how many hours I slept, it was never enough. But once I put my phone down, I found myself going to bed at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. and actually waking up rejuvenated and satisfied. 

The week went by quicker than I had anticipated. While the first two days were a rocky start, I breezed through the rest of the week. It felt nice to disconnect and just focus on myself for once. So much of my overall mood was determined by what I was seeing online. 

I did, sadly, miss the announcement of Ariana Grande’s deluxe “thank you, next” album which I didn’t learn about until a week later. In my 10 years of being her fan, I have never missed an announcement on an album, a single or a feature on a song until now. 

I have redownloaded my apps since the experiment ended. But I’ve learned to control my activity and only use the apps when it benefits my mental health. 

I no longer feel the need to be on social media the minute I wake up and right before going to sleep. 

If or when I find myself falling into the trap of using social media as a constant distraction, I’ll certainly do this cleanse again.