GUEST CREATOR: Bogdana Todoruțiu
Social Media Detox In A Nutshell
“I lie down on the beach on my back and look up at the sky and stop thinking, in a sort of empty bliss. Then my tummy tells me it is time to eat—and I eat. Then I lie down again in the sand. And life is worthwhile.”
From “Chaplin Explains Chaplin”, an interview with Harry Carr in The Motion Picture Magazine, Nov. 1925.
A chilly Saturday morning in a coffee shop, surrounded by a bunch of people trying to wake up with a caffeine booster. And another weekend of digital detox, of almost forgetting about the existence of phones and notifications.
And there comes a moment when you ask yourself – why should I take a break from digital at all?
That’s when the fear of missing out hits the hardest. What about all the posts and private messages? What about the people waiting for my response? What about not hitting the heart button on my friends’ posts? And how can I take this break from digital when my job embodies Social Media communication?
Before I dive in, I’ll give you a spoiler alert: this story is very personal, it has many layers and it also contains some tips that worked for me. I hope you’ll enjoy a good cup of anything you like while reading it. And maybe in one of your digital breaks, you’ll tell us your story too.
I wanted to write about this subject because I thought it would help others, as other people’s stories had helped me.
Reality slapped me in the face when I realized that life is passing by.
I didn’t know why I felt a little alienated from everything around me and why it seemed like having spare time is something impossible to reach. Later on, I’ve found out that the main reason was actually my brain being always in logged-in mode.
When identity starts revolving around digital stuff, things may get fuzzy. You can lose yourself or do silly things because you don’t have clear intentions when it comes to consuming digital content (maybe it sounds familiar to you).
The desire to get to know myself and accept who I am, also came with an emotional baggage I was not entirely ready to handle. Suddenly I had more time for real life, more time to just be, and more time to think about myself. That was when I noticed that my entire self is very attached to the professional life and the Social Media accounts.
So I came up with this hypothesis: I need more silent moments for reflection and self-discovery, because I am so absorbed by external and digital events. Only by doing this, by allowing myself to get bored from time to time, I shall know who I am.
In that period of time, I came across this concept called digital detox.
It sounded pretty fancy and impossible, but after some failed tests, I realized that I have to do it my way. The internet was (and it still is) full of ‘gurus’ and pieces of advice that promised this or that, but very few are talking about the psychology of needs and how the digital playground fills many of these needs.
How often do we think about Social Media in this way?
I would say that Social Media detox means, above all, to let go. Yes, that thing we are not very good at.
Detox speaks about 3D freedom, as I like to call it.
The freedom of not knowing everything and therefore not allowing yourself to get absorbed by the hacking news and the digital environment.
The freedom of having time, which means reconnecting with yourself, knowing and embracing your needs.
The freedom of using Social Media in a good and positive way. Of course, it can mean looking at funny videos with cute animals when you feel down.
TIP: The most productive detox is the one that helps you. It can last for hours, days, weeks. It is your decision when, where, and under what circumstances it can be done. But make sure you feel comfortable with losing first.
You only need the will to do it and the acceptance of the uncomfortable. It can be painful, but it is all worth it.
I started this process by creating more silence moments. This meant not checking my Social Media accounts at all on weekends and holidays and taking pictures without posting them in real time. I picked these days because they are in my spare time and it is easier to pause both the professional life and the digital one.
TIP: If you are a visual learner, you can make a list / calendar and tick the detox moments in order to measure the process. This will help when you’re feeling like not making any progress.
I don’t know what withdrawal feels like, but I can guess that my first attempt was similar. Body shaking, intrusive thoughts, fear of missing out laughing in my face.
Woke up everyday thinking of all the content that I would be missing and even uninstalled the Instagram app in the beginning, because of the temptation. And, of course, I’ve failed.
On some work days, you can easily say that I am a Social Media addict. I’m not going to lie, there are some days when my screen time is on fire, and my eyes sting. There are also periods of time when I tell myself ‘I’ve seen enough’, then I close all the Social Media apps, throw my phone away and go play with the dogs.
TIP: think about what needs Social Media channels fill.
You can start by completing the following sentences, but you should also know that talking to a therapist about this also helps. A lot.
But first, take a piece of paper and a pen. Here are the sentences:
When I’m scrolling through Instagram/TikTok/Facebook, I feel…
I forget that I have Social Media accounts when….
I touch the Social Media app button when….
On some weekend days, I unconsciously touch the Instagram icon. And it’s a scary feeling. Sometimes it feels like a trap, and it’s making me think that I’m losing this foolish game. But on the other hand, there are full weeks when I feel at peace by not being online and it makes me happy.
After one year of experimenting several ways of digital detox, I must say, it feels damn good to finally be able to do it.
Even so, sometimes, the detox makes me feel lonely. People are constantly checking their phones when waiting in line, when going to the bathroom, even when dining with their loved ones. And doing things differently, it often feels like living on another planet.
Ever since I’ve started to implement digital detox periods in my life, I started to think about how we could all benefit from moments of true silence.
TIP: Remember that Social Media detox is also about self-compassion and feeling different. Compassion will help when the detox fails (and it will happen). Some of your friends may laugh because you didn’t see a juicy topic. But always remember why you’re doing this at all.
My work badge defines me as a Social Media Strategist. My day by day workload seldom involves various skills, but the main core is represented by understanding how Social Media works for businesses.
Many people think that in order to be a good Social Media manager / copywriter or everything digital-related, you have to be there. You have to consume digital content all day long. You have to be present, to be immersed.
Or maybe not.
I know that being born in a digital era means that you can be easily fooled by the digital benefits.
But deep down, we all know that informational flow is bigger than our capacity to process and the psychological effects of the platforms are usually hidden. The truth is that we all need some time off from the real world.
I really think that detox is not something that hangs on your job. You can do it even if spending time on Social Media might bring you an income. And for that you have my exemple and I can say, after a year, that my work life feels much better when it alternates with periods of silence.
Cristina Chipurici is an important character in this journey. I highly recommend her articles, written in collaboration with DOR (Decât o Revistă), as well as her newsletter, because they are really eye-opening and helpful, even if the digital detox is not for you. Cristina even organized some challenges (1 month of digital detox) and kept online status meetings for the people that wanted to take this challenge.
Other resources that helped me understand my priorities better:
James Clear – maybe you’ve heard about his book, Atomic Habits
Greg McKeown – author of Essentialism
Gabor Maté – I recommend pretty much everything you can find on Youtube, podcasts or his books.
I’ve also discovered some facts in The Social Dilemma documentary, but I guess you’ve already heard about it since you’re here.
Until next time,
JOCstudio’s note. With the guest creators’ series on our website, we hope to build a safe space for creatives to share their very personal experiences in the professional environment. Let’s talk about mental health, inclusivity, diversity, and equity. How’s your workplace culture doing?