Reconnecting with myself offline

Written by: Chiara Pedretti

There are many reasons why I decided to delete social media a few weeks ago. Before, I felt the constant desire to let everyone know what I was doing each second of the day; whether that was by posting an Instagram story or by sending snapchats. I subconsciously thought that people would like me more if I posted on my socials. I’ve been off social media for two weeks now and during this time, I have realized that my thought process did not make sense.

Why did I think that there was a direct correlation between showing people what I was doing every day and them liking me more? I still don’t have a good answer to that. However, my time off social media has helped me reconnect with myself. I’m doing things I love because it’s what I like to do, not because I want others to appreciate it. I’ve been going on walks because it helps me clear my mind, reading my book because I like to learn new things and coloring because it helps me de-stress. On the flip side, I’m no longer constantly checking to see if someone has seen my social media post or story or if they have snapchatted me back. While before I would assume that someone was angry with me if they did not reply to a snapchat, I can see clearly now that they were probably busy or did not know what to reply back. This two week break from social media has really taught me that my mental health and overall daily mood really depended on others. For this reason, I will be continuing to create safe spaces for myself and occasionally detach from my online communities.

A month ago, I had someone ask me why I was on social media. Without hesitation, I explained that it was to keep in touch with my friends. However, when I thought about it some more, I knew that my answer was not completely authentic. If I was being honest with myself, I was not using social media to talk to my friends every day because I was not even having meaningful conversations with them through those apps. If I wanted a meaningful conversation, I would normally call or text them. I do believe that my social anxiety plays a large part in my desire to constantly post a story or snapchat someone just to keep a streak. I have this constant inner battle where I believe that if I don’t do those actions, my friends will no longer like me or forget about. I now know that this could not be further from the truth.

There have been multiple times that I have considered taking a social media break, but never fully committed to it as I worried that I would lose all my friends. When COVID-19 impacted my future job, my mental health begun to deteriorate, and I knew I needed to take a break off social media. Seeing friends working in Whistler, where I was supposed to be, having an incredible time started to leave me feeling hopeless and anxious. I realized that in order to get out of this mental funk, I had to commit to a social media break and prioritize my mental health.

Two (and now going on three!) weeks into my social detox, I can tell you that while there are still sad days where I feel like I don’t have purpose; my break from Instagram and snapchat is truly helping me get into a better headspace. Spending multiple hours everyday going down this ‘rabbit hole’ of looking at what others are doing and comparing it to yourself is a dangerous slippery slope. By not being on social media, I’ve been able to completely focus on myself and what makes me happy. I feel like I am living every day now for myself and not for others. It’s hard to prioritize yourself in an era where social media is so present in all our lives, but this break has forced me to take a step back and do the things I love for myself- not for others.