It’s not social suicide to give up social media

What I learned when I stopped using social media.

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by Meg Thompson, Staff Photographer

When pondering what to give up for Lent this year, I recalled what I gave up last year: social media. And what a rewarding experience it was. In the first week or two it felt strange. I deleted all the apps (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.) in fear of not being able to restrain the temptation. God forbid I find myself in a situation with nothing to entertain myself but my social media accounts so readily accessible on the tiny screen in my hand. Of course there were those moments in which I unlocked my phone with the intent of checking my Instagram by force of habit, only to find a vacant square where the app used to be. In those moments, though, I learned how much time I waste on social media.

Throughout the remainder of Lent, I learned another thing: how often other people my age get on their social media accounts. And for what? To see all the things people are doing without them? It’s funny how friends simultaneously checking their social media accounts (rather than conversing with one another) becomes such an odd thing when you don’t have your own accounts to check. I can’t say I’m not guilty of scrolling through my Twitter feed while hanging out with a friend, but once I couldn’t do that and witnessed others engaging in that activity, I wondered why. Can’t social media wait? It’ll still be there when your friend departs. Why not give them your undivided attention, and them, you? It sucks to watch other people go through their social media accounts when you don’t have your own to preoccupy yourself with. All I could think was “my poor mom.” I hate to think of the time she’s spent observing me observe other people through a phone.

By the end of Lent, I stopped missing my social media accounts, which is good because they never missed me. Sure, I had some notifications when I finally re-downloaded the apps, but still they were getting along just fine without me. And to my surprise, I was doing better without them. It’s not that I believe social media is evil. In fact, in some instances, it’s a great tool. However, it’s in those moments when we let our social media accounts own us, rather than the opposite, that we find trouble. Let’s stop letting social media make us feel bad by only showing us the most perfect parts of everyone else’s lives. Let’s stop feeling envious and left out. Let’s stop letting social media restrain us from our goals: spending time with friends, getting homework done, going to sleep at a decent hour, living life beyond the pretty pictures and phrases we post for all to see.