A couple weeks ago, I found myself checking my phone more than usual. Maybe I was homesick, and texting my friends and family seemed like a proactive way to cure loneliness. Yet, the increase in my technological habits yielded an ever-growing awareness that I was socializing with a screen. While my eyes were perpetually plastered to an artificially lit display, I was depriving myself of tactile human connection.
I began to wonder, why do I feel more attached to my phone when I am abroad than when I am at home? Is it because the experience of unprecedented distance is coupled with a yearning to hold onto what I know? If so, then why did I go abroad in the first place? Why physically “disconnect” myself if I am going to stay cellularly connected?
Our communication-driven culture facilitates a desire for constant approval. Every day, we post photos, hoping to get “likes.” We send our friends screenshots of conversations, asking if our responses make sense. We update our statuses so that our social network is aware of our travels and accomplishments
After a few days of contemplation, I couldn’t seem to remember exactly when sharing each second of our lives became such a necessity. I decided to forgo my phone and prioritize my present surroundings. I began a “social media detox.” With these simple guidelines, you can begin one as well.
1. Set an easy goal.
The thought of disconnecting can be daunting, so it’s best to start small. I avoided my most-used social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat) for 24 hours. Occasionally, I reached for my phone to capture a Snapchat and had to stop myself. Yet after a full day, I realized I didn’t miss the apps as much as I thought I would. I was able to spend 5 full days without social media.
2. Distract yourself.
When you find yourself craving a quick scroll through Instagram or Facebook, switch to another activity. Take a walk, make yourself a snack, or schedule plans with a friend. If you really don’t want to move, check a productive website like CNN. There is nothing wrong with needing a laid-back release, but reading the news is much more valuable than keeping tabs on people you forgot you knew.
3. Follow through.
Taking a break from constantly checking your phone won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Keep yourself accountable, perhaps by using a journal or inviting a friend to undergo the challenge with you. I firmly believe that phones were not designed to act as a second limb for humans. By sticking to your detox, you will give your brain a well-deserved break from the social clutter that permeates today’s online platforms.