The Challenge: No social media for 7 days. No Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitter, Tumblr, Skype, blogs, et cetera, et cetera. The only exceptions will be my social media responsibilities under my job description, which do not include any of my personal accounts. Plus, the platform I use for work posts on behalf once I craft the post in a separate system. Easy enough!
The Plan: Stay busy. Read. Watch movies. Work out. Work. Talk to my cat. Live in the moment, and ignore the time zap that is staring at my phone mindlessly. Do anything except imbibe in social media for 168 hours. Prep for the ban includes pulling my Facebook events offline and onto a physical calendar, binging on Youtube for the 48 hours leading up to the challenge, and a prayer to Tom Anderson, the patron saint of social media to give me strength. I may be a terrible Catholic, but I still appreciate the uncanny ability to assign impromptu patron saints for #firstworldproblems.
Day 1: I wake up and reach for my phone out of habit. I see 5 Facebook notifications, 2 Instagram notifications, 1 Twitter notification, and 3 Snapchat notifications. I feel anxiety settle in at those red numbers that I can’t acknowledge and resolve immediately. I’m 5 minutes into the challenge and nearly cave. I shove my phone under my pillow, get ready for the day and throw an unnecessary amount of effort into work. Post work efforts are focused on Netflix, which a friend informs me is social media. I panic, consult google, decide that Netflix is NOT social media based on the definition of social media (websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking), and opt to find a series I can binge on for the next 7 days. I settle on Secret Life of the American Teenager. I make it less than one episode before I am appalled at the show, but opt to keep watching and count the number of stereotypes, examples of bad acting, and unrealistic story points as some lame form of entertainment. I watch the notifications in my social media tab mount.
Day 2: My social media notification tab count is up to 24. I hover over the delete X box as a way to curb temptation, but as a masochist who likes to live dangerously, I opt to leave my apps in place and see just how many notifications I can torture myself with. As someone who posts PRETTY regularly (1 a day usually, sometimes 2), I begin to wonder if anyone will even notice if I disappear for a week. As someone who communicates better through written words over speaking, I admit to relying on social media as a way to stay or feel connected sometimes. I think I have a healthy relationship with social media, but I am sometimes envious of people who use it sparingly, or not at all. Day 2 includes an impromptu happy hour with some of my co-ed softball teammates since our games were rained out. I focus on being present in the moment, crushing Golden Tee (2nd and 1st place, thank you kindly), and NOT looking at my phone every time it buzzes. End of day notification count: 53.
Day 3: The novelty of this challenge is wearing off. I no longer feel proud when I ignore a notification buzz. I just feel… agitated. I’m missing out on show announcements, adorable animal videos, new memes, people’s meals… nah, I still don’t miss pictures of people’s meals. A coworker asks to see a picture of a cake I was tagged in pre-ban and I open Facebook to find it. I rationalize that this isn’t cheating because it’s just a photo and I vow to go straight to it with zero detours. Facebook takes me directly to my notifications and I die a little at even the swiftest glance at what is happening in my absence. I also notice 4 friend requests, which is weird. I rarely get friend requests, let alone 4 in one week. I die further at the inability to look at them and see what’s happening. I make it through the day without further incident. I spend the evening post-gym watching more of one of the worst TV shows ever, Secret Life of the American Teenager. It’s like a car wreck I can’t look away from. I’m 8 episodes in and am appalled and enthralled, the most classic of dichotomies.
Day 4: I start the day with a Snapchat notification from my niece. I don’t have much contact with her lately and she weighs heavy on my heart often. I break the ban for a 5 second still pic of her, with some dude, looking much older than her 19 years. Not older in the too much makeup sense. Older in the sense that she’s seen more than she ever should have to see at her age. I don’t feel guilty for even a moment that I caved in. I’m just happy to see her face, even for a moment, even with some dude I’m certain is an asshat. I pick right back up where I left off, without looking at any of my other snaps. I firm up plans to work with the TV crew in Lake Charles over the weekend and spend the evening texting with friends and going further down the SLotAT rabbit hole.
Day 5: I’m springing out of bed after one snooze, instead of my pre-ban usual of laying around for 15-20 minutes checking my feeds, walls, and the like. I’m taking walks at work for breaks, instead of “Facebook breaks”. These are good things! I’m over the hump of staring at the red notification number and feeling like I’m missing out. It is only a number and if people need me, they know how to reach me. I do receive a text message from a pal asking if I’m alive. I receive a phone call from another friend asking the same. Apparently, 5 days without a social media peep (tweet?) is alarming to some of my pals. I head out to Lake Charles, relying on radio (I was a car dancing fool when this “oldie” came on the station in Lake Charles!) and CD’s since Youtube and the like are out this week. I arrive in Lake Charles to see I’ve received 5 more friend requests. I am convinced that Facebook has noted my absence and is creating profiles and sending them to my friend requests to entice me back into the vortex. It’s the only explanation for 9 unsolicited friends requests in a week when my profile is uber private. I grab dinner with the camera crew and settle into the hotel for my 7am call time.
Day 6: We are in a GORGEOUS location on a BEAUTIFUL day. I snap no less than 8 Insta worthy photos and have the makings of one badass Snapchat Story. They sit on my phone, unshared. I send one shot to a few friends via text, decide that’s probably a gray area for the challenge and cut myself off from sharing further. Filming days are long days. We go into overtime and by the time we get back to the hotel at 10pm, all I want is a shower and sleep. A few of the crew know about my ban and one of the producers tries to torture me by going on my wall and attempting to convince me there are some serious shenanigans going down that I should see, but I resist. That prankster.
Day 7: 24. more. hours. Today is Easter. I watch my coworkers scrolling through their feeds, filled with “He is Risen!”, “Happy Zombie Jesus Day!”, and pictures of kids covered in chocolate, that fake grass, or hunting eggs in obnoxiously bright dresses and suits. Day 7 makes me grateful I’m not on social media. Which brings me to a point that is rather off topic. Who buys a rainbow seersucker suit complete with straw flat brimmed hat for a toddler boy? Adorable? Yes. Ridiculous? Also, yes. Don’t be that parent. Spend that money on their future, or your future, or on anything other than outfit they will literally only wear once in their life. I can not. We finish shooting and head back to Houston. I jam out to Hall & Oates and Dio and finish out the day running some last minute errands before cuddling with a very angry Harley (she yelled at me for being gone for 2 Sleeps for a solid 30 minutes before cuddling up and purring for the rest of the night). We watch more SLotAT. This show is going downhill fast, which is really saying something when it pretty much started at the bottom already. I had to turn it off right around this point in the episode I was watching…
Day 8: I wake up determined not to return to my pre-ban habit of checking social media first thing in the morning. I knock out some work and finally cave in around 9am. I sift through 15 friend requests (seriously, what did you do, Facebook?) and accept 8 of them who I actually know or share a slew of mutual friends with and have likely met. I try to sort through a week’s worth of notifications, but give up after a few scrolls. I’ll never know what I missed last week, and I am okay with that. I accept a few new Insta requests, thumb through a few scrolls, stalk my favorites to catch up and move on to Snapchat. All said, it takes me 15 minutes to clear my notifications on all apps.
The Take: I went 7 days without social media and I lived to blog about it. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. The hardest part of the challenge was not having access to Youtube. Youtube gives me life. It gets me through tough work days when I just need to bear down and focus on a task. Just thrown in earbuds and an epic album or playlist and get it done. Working out? Youtube playlist time! Cleaning? Youtube! Need to know how to fix a sink stopped? Youtube! I really, really missed Youtube. I don’t think I tell myself “no” nearly enough. I always think it is going to be more difficult than it is. I should really apply this to other areas my life… I think I might keep one day a week social media free going forward. Who knows? Maybe I’ll up that to two days a week, and keep going from there until I’m off the sauce entirely! Excellent challenge!