Taking a break from social media

The perks of isolating oneself from Instagram

lf17-Caroline Eastham-CAnton

Caroline Eastham is a life columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

Being the generation of social media in the crux of continued technological advancements, we can all admit the large and often positive influence of social media sites on our everyday lives. These sites and apps allow us to efficiently publicize information, share personal experience and communicate globally. 

Yes, all great things. However, social media can also welcome an equally long list of negative outcomes as well. We have all seen and experienced it either first hand or through a friend. Social media can become addictive and weaken one's self-esteem to the point of mental unsteadiness. This added stressor and frequent time-sucker does not deserve a central role in our fast-paced and busy lives as college students. 

I noticed the negative effects of social media in my own life over the summer and decided to do something about it. An all-out ban from every social media platform felt extreme and limiting of the positive components these platforms can create when used effectively. Therefore, I started with what I consider the most addictive site of them all — Instagram. Every spare minute, I would find myself aimlessly scrolling through pictures of people I barely know and comparing my life to theirs until my thumbs were cramped up and my eyes were strained. I deactivated my account and have not looked back since. 

The anticipated fear of missing out only lasted a day or so because the benefits of taking a break quickly became outstandingly clear. Occasionally, I would find myself attempting to open the app and realizing this was no longer an option, but time has stopped this habit. I realized if I added up every spare minute I spent on this site, it would add up to hours of time wasted that could have been spent traveling, adventuring or spending time with my friends and family. The fear of missing out on the happenings of the digital world seemed miniscule in comparison to the fear I should have had of missing out on occurences in the real world. Life isn’t slowing down, so why should I in order to dwell in the falsities represented on my screens?

Imagine the impact we could have if we all added up the time wasted on Instagram and put it together to do something meaningful for the broader world or even just enjoyed each other’s company. Believe it or not, there is a real human world that exists outside the box of metal and glass permanently glued to the end of our arms like an extra appendage, and a pretty awesome one at that. 

Social media has become an addiction, and it is time we remember the good, useful and healthy reasons it was invented for in the first place. There is great power in social media that is being abused and taken for granted. Social media thrives when it is used to unite us together in community and to give a voice to the voiceless. Too often, we forget about this power we have in our hands to alter society and improve our lives and those of others. 

This can only be realized through a true and committed break from this potentially toxic habit. Despite my personal efforts, social media is not going anywhere. I won’t push the complete and permanent  deactivation as I have done, but rather a renovation of our usage. 

It has been almost a month now without Instagram and I can honestly say I feel great. I sleep better at night, my work gets done quicker and with less distractions and my mental health appears to be in a better state. I do not plan on reactivating it anytime soon, unless social media becomes a reliable and valid source for information, as it may in the near future. Until then, I am happy living my life in the real world and experiencing the rewards of my social media vacation. It is time we take back our lives and spend more time with the things and people that really matter to us. 

Caroline Eastham is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com

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