Disconnect for live connections

Taking a break from social media allows time for self reflection and relationship development.


by Sophia Durone, Breaking News Editor

As a generally “indoorsy” person, hiking Mount Monroe as a moody 13-year-old without my iPhone 5 was no easy journey. Mile after mile, I wished I could complain to my snapchat friends and take selfies with trees during water breaks. My efforts felt useless without any way to technologically document my progress. However, when I took my final step to reach the summit, my perspective transformed.

For the first time since I arrived at camp that summer, I did not feel the urge to immediately upload a picture of the view to my Snapchat story. I enjoyed the scene without feeling pressure to show my social media followers what I had accomplished on my expedition. In this moment, I bonded with my fellow hikers over how relieved we were it was time for a snack and took time to reflect on my experience. If I’d had my phone, I am confident that neither of these important parts of the hike would have even occurred. Pictures could have shown the world my accomplishment, but I would have missed many significant memories.

The realization that disconnecting from social media enhances my lifestyle drew me to periodically unplugging in the real world so I returned to the phone-free summer camp for three more years. I loved social media for helping me easily maintain my friendships, and all the resources available to me. However, I was a better person without access to it. From an almost-outsider’s perspective, I’ve recognized how social media consistently harms emotional well-being, and promised to disconnect more frequently than ever before.

During my epiphany, I noticed the simplicity of building relationships without social media profiles. According to the Medical News Today, “the hyperconnectedness [of social media] takes place at a superficial level, eliminating all of the extra elements that make communication more valuable and psychologically constructive.” I had no idea how much my communication skills regressed from my fourth grade sociability until I could not check my text messages during an awkward silence. Pursuing face-to-face relationships helps build back these necessary, but often forgotten, elementary psychological abilities. In addition to this, in a friendship without a Snapchat streak or Instagram profiles, bonds grow deeper because they are not built on preconceived notions of popularity, wealth or other materialistic attributes.

Even more so than creating live friendships, rediscovering yourself is an even greater task in a social media free environment. I often find myself purchasing clothes only to wear in an Instagram post, or visiting trendy restaurants for the VSCO photo. If social media appearances are prioritized over true interests, individuality is lost entirely. According to the Boston Globe,  “The Internet didn’t invent the human propensity for self-disclosure or the neurochemistry that rewards it. But smartphones and social media put it on overdrive.” Social media users so often become addicted to the instant self-esteem boost that comes with making a social media post that their ability and desire to find validation elsewhere deteriorates. Pursuing personal passions, photogenic or not, keeps people in-check with their identities and ever-changing likes and dislikes.

As you may be able to tell by my frequent Instagram posts, I find it extremely difficult to disconnect from social media in a world of technology. However, taking small steps toward disconnection is better than ignoring what you know could greatly improve your wellbeing. Reach out to a friend face-to-face with an issue rather than passive-aggressively posting on your Snapchat story. Sign up for an activity you genuinely enjoy instead of being motivated by your next post. Take time for self-reflection after a busy week in school. But most of all, I urge you to unplug for the relieving feeling of disconnection that has been one ‘logout’ button away this whole time.