By Tasnin Khan
By now, we all know that the internet can be a double-edged sword. It’s such a blessing and a curse to have everything accessible at your fingertips nowadays with smartphones. While it’s so amazing to be able to find information, people, events, communities that cater to your interests and find your niche, it truly makes me want to scream when I look around and see most of the people around me completely absorbed in their phones rather than being present in their environment.
Believe that I am definitely guilty of this too - there are so many times that I have almost bumped into people because I was so absorbed in my phone that I wasn’t even paying attention to where I was walking. I realized just how much smartphones have become engrained in our daily lives last year when I decided to take a little break from Instagram and got texts from multiple people wondering if I was okay or asking why I deactivated my account. It was like something happened to me because I wasn’t on Instagram or wasn’t posting about everything. I realized that I would spend a lot of time at events or getting ready before events more worried about taking pictures than actually enjoying being completely present in the moment to create memories.
Here are some ways to detox from technology or set healthy boundaries and how it can help you:
Avoid looking at social media apps right before you go to bed.
Something that I started to notice was that the first thing that I would do as soon as I opened my eyes was open my Instagram app; it was also the last thing that I would see at night before I tried to fall asleep. Or I would be caught up answering text messages, or checking Snapchat. It was a bottomless pit that I just could not get enough of. But it wasn’t bringing me any real satisfaction most of the time. It was just a ton of information that I was getting - too much information. It became reflexive and so instant that I didn’t think twice about it. Don’t get me wrong - I still have the habit and urge to want to hop right on Instagram when I wake up, but I try to make a conscious effort to limit the time that I am on social media apps. For me personally, it didn’t do me any justice to not even give my mind the opportunity to just be and to even sit with my own thoughts before jumping straight into my phone. It’s made me feel like my attention span is shorter and my mind is more frantic, so setting limits of not looking at my phone at least an hour before bed and after waking up (unless it’s to turn off my alarm or put on a podcast or music) gives me a much more peaceful and healthy state of mind to start and end my day on the right note.
Focus on the present moment.
One important situation that really helped me to realize how important it is to live in the present moment is when I was at the Made in America Festival two years ago. It was during Coldplay’s set and it was an incredible vibe and moment to share with all the others who were there. But of course- I instinctively reached out to record a lot of moments of the set on Snapchat. Someone next to me tapped me on the shoulder and kindly told me that I deserved to enjoy this moment, that I would never get this moment back and cameras just wouldn’t do it justice. I knew that he was right, and it really reminded me at that moment and moving forward to be more aware because I know I don’t want to live my life just carrying memories of looking behind a camera screen instead of being fully present in that moment. So when you are with your friends getting dinner or drinks who you haven’t seen in awhile or at a cool new experience, put your phones away and just enjoy each other’s presence. Actually experience the present moment fully because that is all that we know we have for sure.
FOMO is useless.
Have you ever spent a day inside, unable to go to some event for some reason or staying in studying for an exam or working late, and knowing that you are missing out and feeling like absolute shit about it when you see everyone’s Snapchat? I definitely have had some major cases of FOMO like anyone else. I’d scroll through my Snapchat feed and look up- 30 minutes had gone by and I was just a little more annoyed, lonely, or distracted than I was before that. The truth is that there will always be another event, another party, another outing, another cool experience - it’s not worth not working hard on your goals while it counts because you fear you are missing out. Nothing hurts more than the pain of staying stagnant when you know you can grow, and growth takes sacrifice. Avoid distractions that might serve as bait to not do so. If you know that you need to stay in and get some work or studying done that will benefit you in the long-run, try to avoid feeding into outlets like looking at Snapchat that night that might make it difficult for you to focus or might make you feel bad for this.
Curate your feed.
This is so important! I think I underestimated for a really long time how much our minds are like sponges. What you see, read, hear will influence the way that you think and perceive yourself and the world around you. So when you scroll through your feeds on Instagram or Twitter or anything else, ask yourself - after you finish looking, does it leave you feeling depleted or fulfilled and inspired? If you are following accounts that leave you feeling anxious, depleted, insecure - maybe it is time to give yourself a break and hit the unfollow. If the accounts you follow inspire you or teach you or make you laugh or make you happy or make you feel connected, keep doing you! Recently, I started to curate my feed slowly and be more selective in the things that I would look at, and it is amazing how that has changed my state of mind.
We live in an instant gratification age, so it can honestly be difficult or sometimes make you feel like you are doing something that is not normal when you set limitations with your phone. But it is so important for our mental health that we set healthy boundaries because as much as we think we can multitask and give our attention to everything at once, we can only put our focus and energy on so much. Choose it wisely and it can make such a positive difference in your life!
Have you done a social media detox? If so, what was your experience like?