How much time do you spend on social media each day? Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, the average Millennial commits hours and hours every day to casual social media surfing.
Have you ever thought about what would happen if you took a little hiatus and disconnected? While this proposition may seem unrealistic at first, it can actually yield a number of benefits if you're willing to put forth the effort.
Before you say a hiatus from social media is impossible, remember just 10 years ago social media was barely a blip on the radar. In other words, people have gotten along just fine for centuries without the assistance of constant, real-time connectivity.
Should you choose to accept the challenge of staying off social media this week, you'll most likely enjoy some key benefits.
You'll be happier with yourself.
While the original intention of social networking was to bring people together and make it easy to stay in touch with friends and family, popular platforms like Facebook have had negative effects on our society.
Social media fuels narcissism -- it's hard to argue against this idea. People post pictures hoping to receive “likes” and affirmation. Users post statuses and statements, hoping others will agree with their opinions. Just about everything posted on social media is done with one question in mind: Will this make me look better to my followers?
The problem with this approach is everything you see on social media is so heavily filtered and edited, it's easy to assume everyone's life is perfect. After all, very few people are willing to discuss their imperfections on such a visible platform.
By stepping away from social media, you won't be subjected to the “fantasy land” that is social media. You'll stop comparing your life to the fictional lives your peers portray on social media. As a result, you'll become much happier with who you are.
You'll be far more productive.
What if you had an extra couple hours of free time each day? Think about how much more you could get done. Truthfully, if you step away from social media, you'll probably find some extra time. You can then use this time to do something meaningful and productive.
You'll notice things you've never seen before.
It's easy to feel like social media connects you to the world. You can see what's happening at any given moment on any corner of the globe. However, the reality is, the more you glue yourself to a screen, the less connected you truly are.
Experiencing the world is about immersing yourself in your surroundings. If your face is constantly buried in a smartphone, you're ignoring everyone and everything around you, to the point that you're totally unaware of the exciting things happening in your own backyard.
For example, let's say you ride the train to work every day. What would you notice if you looked up? Maybe you'd meet a new friend who also rides the train daily? Perhaps you'd spot a new park three blocks from your office? There's a lot going on around you – all you need to do is disconnect.
You'll discover new passions and interests.
Finally, disconnecting from social media forces you to identify new passions and interests. It could be something as simple as putting together a puzzle or something as involved as renovating your kitchen. Whatever you find, it will be exponentially more rewarding than scrolling through a news feed.
OK, so what can you do instead? Here's a short list to get you started thinking about the things you can do more effectively without a phone in your hand and your eyes looking down.
- Read a book
- Go for a hike with friends
- Cook more meals
- Exercise more often
There's a powerful poem by Gary Turk called “Look Up.” It's about the dangers of social media and how our society may very well deteriorate as a result of people staring at their screens and ignoring the world around them.
While there are a number of great lines in the poem, there's one that sticks out the most:
We edit and exaggerate, crave adulation. We pretend not to notice the social isolation. We put our words into order till our lives are glistening. We don't even know if anyone is listening.
Social media has its perks. It's a useful tool for staying in touch with those who live far away. However, we all need to take a step back, disconnect once in a while and spend time enjoying our lives rather than posting about them.