30 Days, No Social Media — What I learned

I haven’t used social media in 30 days. Well… that’s kind of a lie. I’ve been using LinkedIn as a place to post my blogs. BUT, other than that, I have not used social media at all.

It all started with this post…

For the past week, I’ve been reading The Digital Declutter by Cal Newport. The book discusses how technology is changing our lives for the worse. My entire life, I believed the more tech the better. The more apps I could download the better. Efficiency is key. If an app could do it faster, I was all about it.

Recently, I’ve been focusing on finding things that make me genuinely happy. Likewise, I’ve been trying to pick up on the things that create stress. Note: doing both of these things are really hard. Anyways, after reading The Digital Declutter, it gave me some clarity. My hypothesis is as follows

More human interaction will make people happier

Less social media will make people less stressed, and inherently, happier

I’m going to run an experiment for 30 days to test this hypothesis. No optional technologies for 30 days. Newport considers “the technology is optional unless its temporary removal would harm or significantly disrupt the daily operations of your professional or personal life.”

In short:

I will be deleting all social media apps from my phone

I will only communicate through calls and FaceTimes (if you know me, you know how much I love FaceTime)

However, there are some special cases where I will be using technology.

Work — I need to access my email and GroupMe

School — I need to access Twitter

Blog — I need to access Wordpress and LinkedIn

In other words, I won’t be going radio silent for the next 30 days! You just won’t see any workout videos for a while. However, I will still be posting about job searching, career advice, etc.

If anyone has any questions about the Digital Declutter, or would be interested in doing it, let me know.

After 30 days, I honestly don’t miss them at all. In this post, I will discuss:

  1. Why I decided to do this challenge
  2. What I learned
  3. How I intend to use social media moving forward.

Why no social media?

In January, I went on a trip to Arizona with my family. We saw the Grand Canyon, drove through Sedona, and went on some awesome hikes. One day, in between the sightseeing and hikes, we hung out in Scottsdale. Scottsdale is a beautiful town. I highly recommend checking it out. In Scottsdale, there was an Amazon book store. I’d never seen an Amazon book store before. I love book stores. I don’t know what it is, but something about walking into a Barnes and Nobles (or in this case an Amazon book store), makes me super excited. There are so many books there and so many opportunities to learn. I know, I’m a huge nerd.

Anyways, I came across a book called Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. The cover says “choosing a focused life in a noisy world”. I was instantly drawn in. I read the inside panel. “Digital minimalists are all around us. They’re calm, happy people, who can hold long conversations without furtive glances at their phones.” This made me think. Am I able to have long conversations without looking at my phone? Maybe a better question is, am I comfortable having long conversations without looking at my phone? The answer was no. I needed this book.

Digital minimalism is a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.

Here are my 2 takeaways from Digital Minimalism:

  1. Use technology intentionally — When you introduce new technology into your life, ask yourself “why do I need this?” Technology should solve problems, not create them. For example, don’t make an Instagram just to make an Instagram. Make an Instagram because it is a convenient way for you to share pictures of your dog with your friends.
  2. Solitude is super important — Solitude is a subjective state in which your mind is free from input from other minds. It’s critical that you take time to think for yourself. It is so easy to listen to what other people say and absorb what other people post, but you need to intentionally spend time by yourself. Give yourself time to understand your environment and define what is important to you.

Long story short, Digital Minimalism inspired me to do this challenge and I am really happy I did it.

What I learned

Before starting this challenge, I was in a tough place. I didn’t feel confident in myself. I may have seemed confident, but I wasn’t. My self-esteem was shot. I always felt pressured that I needed to be doing something to better myself. Instead of hanging out with friends, I’d choose to study, or read, or workout an extra hour at the gym. Why? I think it was social media.

I follow a bunch of fitness influencers, entrepreneurs, and highly motivated people that CONSTANTLY post about all of the great stuff they are doing. You guys know exactly what I am talking about. The Gary Vee’s of the world. It’s awesome that they are doing these things, but I’d always compare myself to these people. I’d think “man, I wish I was them” or “I should really be spending more time doing “this” than doing “that” or “That is what successful people do. So, I should be doing the same.”

This was not healthy. I was constantly in a state of comparison. By constantly comparing myself to these people all of the time, it was wrecking my self-esteem. I needed to take a break. I needed to unplug. I needed some digital minimalism. So, that’s what I did.

30 days of no social media have made me a better thinker, communicator, and friend. I learned how to set time aside to think, how to engage in more meaningful conversations, and how to be a better friend.

  1. Thinker — Since deleting my social media, I have had significantly more thoughts and I am able to think a lot more clearly. I think this is a product of reducing the amount of time I spend absorbing information. All of the time I was spending browsing Instagram or Facebook, I spent thinking. This past month has been crazy for ideas.
  2. Communicator — Deleting my social media has DEFINITELY made me a better communicator. I literally feel 100x more confident communicating with people now than when I had social media. Social media is weird; especially for college students. You’re connected with all of these people who you barely know. When you see them in person, it’s weird because you both know each other from social media, but you have never met in person. So, when you see each other, you don’t say anything, but you both know each other. It’s just a weird dynamic, I don’t know. I was talking about this with my friend the other day. Anyways, I have become a much much much better communicator from deleting my social media.
  3. Friend — No social media has made me a better friend. This could be a byproduct of becoming a better communicator, but I think it is more than that. The less time you spend staring at your phone, the more time you have to have real, actual, human, conversations with your friends. This past month, I have had more real, actual, and human conversations with people than I have had in the past 5 years. If anyone wants to have any real, actual, and human conversations with me, hit me up.
  4. Also, no social media has also helped me realize who my real friends are. My real friends were the ones that were hitting me up when I went radio silent on social media. I forgot to tell them I was doing this challenge, so they were a little shook when I stopped answering their Snaps and stopped posting on IG. This also lifted a huge burden off of my shoulders. You don’t need to please your 2000 Facebook friends. Just focus on the ones that matter.

Besides becoming a better thinker, communicator, and friend, my biggest takeaway from this experiment is to be intentional with your actions. Before you do anything, ask yourself “why am I doing this?” It is so easy to hop on the train and follow the crowd, but oftentimes the crowd is going to do more to hurt you than help you. Focus on the things that matter and the things that make you happy, and be intentional with what you spend your time on.

How I will use social media going forward

I learned a lot from deleting my social media, but I am not going to go off of it forever. As long as I use it purposefully, I see no detriment.

Here is some stuff I learned about specific social media platforms. It wasn’t until I deleted my social media that I realized WHY I was using each of these platforms. It’s so easy to get disillusioned by social media platforms. You really need to ask yourself “why am I using this?” and “what value is this bringing me?”

Instagram

To be honest, I missed Instagram. I don’t miss mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, I miss specific things. This experiment helped me realize the value I get from Instagram.

I like Instagram because it allows me to engage with specific communities. For example, the CrossFit community. A lot of CrossFitters use Instagram to share workouts, post workouts, and share tips. Instagram is valuable to me because it allows me to embed myself in the CrossFit community. Moving forward, I am going to use Instagram for the purpose of engaging with specific communities and telling my story.

Facebook

I didn’t really miss Facebook that much.

I like Facebook for interacting with my family and Facebook Marketplace. My entire family is on Facebook, and I enjoy sending them things/tagging them in interesting things. Also, I love Facebook Marketplace. I’ve bought and sold so many things there. Moving forward I will use Facebook to occasionally check in on what my family is doing (I’d much rather just call them) and to buy and sell things on Marketplace.

Twitter

I’ve never been a huge Twitter guy so, I didn’t miss it at all. However, I’m taking a class right now that requires us to use Twitter, and I am starting to understand it.

Twitter is a unique platform. You have to share your ideas concisely. This is what makes it interesting. .

Snapchat

Snapchat is dumb. Useless. Over the past month, if I wanted to send a picture to someone, I sent it through iMessage.

I don’t see myself going back to Snapchat I don’t see myself using Snapchat either.

Conclusion

It’s easy to become disillusioned by what everyone is posting. It makes you think…am I really interested in that? Does this mean anything to me? Should I spend time doing this?

Cutting out social media made it easier for me to focus on the things that make me happy.

I challenge you to go 30 days without social media. I guarantee you it will improve your life for the better.

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