My One Week Social Media Detox Experiment

My One Week Social Media Detox Experiment

The first time I experienced a detox was in 2007. I visited a relative’s house with my Dad when I was still an undergrad. I saw her put her feet in a big bowl filled with water. Some gadgets were connected to her body. The operator said the technology originated from the Far East (Asia).

After some hours, the colour of the water turned to deep brown. Apparently, the toxins in her body were flushed out by the gadgets, down her legs, and then into the water.

I once wrote about how I got buried in too much information and content. So much that everything became affected, from productivity to execution. At different times I attempted to cut myself from this ubiquitous element.

I successfully used ZeroMail, and UnrollMe to divert unnecessary emails from my inbox. I used Evernote Clipper, Feedly, Pocket, InstaPaper, and Readability to defer reading tons of articles, many of which I never returned to.

By doing this, I found out that a lot of things that felt important and critical to catch up on weren’t really what they felt like. These tools displayed the power of delay and denial.

Apart from consequences or reward the importance or urgency of anything can be measured by delay or denial. Can it wait?

After excelling in dousing the flames of too much information, another source reared its head. I was indeed fighting a Hydra. This new head is Social Media.

Social Media has come to stay as a tool for networking, but also a source of information. Information about world events, local events, life events of other people. Also, it has become a source of useful and useless information.

Scrolling through social media timelines takes up a scarce resource – time. Relegating social media consumption to leisure time doesn’t stop compulsive checking at a non-leisure time.

Its effect became significant in how I stopped reading books and producing content that mattered. In fact, it reintroduced me into the too much content loop I was running from.

I heard about a social media detox some years ago, but hearing it again from Jason Zook’s podcast motivated me to try it.

Detox Rules

Having failed many times in the past to accomplish a week’s worth of social media detox, I had to be careful this time not to jump or rush into it. So I set some rules of engagement that focused on restraining this attempt from extending from an experiment to extremism (which always failed, by the way).

The conditions were:

  1. No Facebook app on my phone
  2. No Twitter app on my phone
  3. No BBM app on my phone
  4. No Facebook on mobile browser
  5. Twitter allowed on mobile browser
  6. Instagram on phone for account I manage except my personal account
  7. SnapChat on phone for alternative account that follows people I learn from alone
  8. Facebook allowed on PC browser
  9. Tweeting from Do Note and Xpire apps

Observations

During the detox that lasted for a week, I observed some changes. Some changes were good, some changes were bad, some changes were ugly.

After two days, I logged into my personal Instagram thereby violating rule number six. However, I didn’t use the app so much until the end of the detox.

The Good – Increased Productivity
During the detox, my productivity increased drastically. Normally, I’d look through my phone to kill boredom. I was able to focus on my tasks. The apps were no longer there to flip through.

The Bad – Missing the Turkish Coup
Unfortunately, I didn’t hear about the military coup that failed to oust Erdogan, Turkey’s president. It was so bad that I saw the news when I installed the Twitter app. This confirmed that Twitter is my news source, in the absence of TV.

The Ugly – SnapChat
It became clear during the detox that I was addicted to SnapChat. I kept checking to see new stories.

Lessons

The detox opened my eyes to the vast amount of time I can save, and use for more important tasks. Although social media can be seen as an option for boredom and relaxation, elements like news and useful information cannot be abandoned totally.

In breaking free, I’d either make a complete exit or reach a middle ground like,

  • Moving social apps to another phone
  • Removing apps one after the other
  • Doing a detox once every month
  • Doing a detox when a big project is running

PP: It took me more than two months to complete this post because, ‘social media’.

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