I QUIT SOCIAL MEDIA AMIDST PANDEMIC AND HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED.

Social media has been a part of most of us since its birth in 2009. With them installed in our smartphone we can easily access up-to-date information, see people’s posts and share things about our lives. It made us keep up with each other’s lives even from far distance. However with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus it becomes an overwhelming information overload from heartbreaking news, political controversy to personal rants. Although there are still positive posts available to lighten up the day, they are easily buried when an update about the virus is uploaded.

WHY I QUIT?

As of this writing I haven’t been on social media for more than 5 months already. Since the outbreak in March social media became a toxic place to check in and unfortunately I also became that toxic person who complains about the situation. For months being locked up at home and still having an alarming rise of positive cases, I can’t help but to put my frustrations on social media. For me the more increase in positive cases means the longer it takes for us to get out from this dark tunnel we are stuck in. I became very opinionated in a bad way constantly battling with people I don’t even know on the comments section of news articles. Things got worse for me when I see my friends’ posts overseas back in June when they can already do non-essential travels domestically and nearby countries because the borders are already open for them. I know that FOMO should not be present in this time of pandemic but as much as I am happy for them doing fine and having the freedom to roam, I find myself pitiful for not being able to step outside. My mental well-being and productivity was affected badly. I realized I have to do something about it so I quit.

HOW I QUIT?

I thoughtfully consider a lot of things before quitting such as where to get updates and information. Social media is the fastest and most accessible source of up-to-date information. I still want to be informed so I watch news on T.V and read articles that appear on my Google app. I also subscribed to a local news blog in my hometown that regularly post announcements from the mayor’s office and regional Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) including scheduled power interruptions.  

For the moment of truth, I don’t want to just disappear online leaving my friends wondering what happened to me so I posted both on my Facebook and InstaGram that I will be taking a break from social media. I apologized in advance for any messages that I can’t read in the future but I assure them that they can reach me thru my phone number. Right after that I uninstalled all my social media accounts including Messenger and Whatsapp. I decided to include my messaging apps to experience living offline more.

WHAT HAPPENED?

CONSTANT DEBATE WHETHER TO GO BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA OR NOT

The first two weeks is a continuous argument within me if I should re-install and log in to my accounts again. I am worried if I am getting enough information or I am missing out with important ones. However, when a close friend mentioned how stressful it is to open Facebook. I figured out I am on the right track.

I LOGGED IN TWICE

I had two “cheat days” on my social media cut back. On Day 6 and 24, my two close friends from overseas were having their birthdays. I re-installed my InstaGram to send them my best birthday wishes since it is the only way we can connect. Upon receiving their replies, I immediately uninstall my account again. That way, I can save myself from any post that can trigger me because to be honest I am not yet confident that I am mentally and emotionally stable from what is happening at that time.

I GOT THINGS DONE

For a short amount of time, I was able to have my anti-flu vaccine, visit my dentist and take my glasses to my ophthalmologist. These are essential appointments I put in the back burner believing I don’t have time. But the truth is, I got distracted with the notifications that appear on my screen. I spend hours and hours browsing on social media starting when I woke up and in between my daily task not realizing how much time was already wasted.  When I quit, I got more time for meaningful task to be done and build productive routine.

MY PHONE BATTERY LASTED LONGER

During my social media detox the main function of my phone is an alarm clock for work. I still receive messages from work thru skype and e-mails so I use it to communicate with my boss and some friends. I also use it to read news from Google and watch YouTube videos on my free time at work. Surprisingly, I only charge my phone once in 2 days. I never expected my phone battery to last that long especially in the past when I used to live for social media I need to plug my phone twice a day and carry a powerbank everywhere.

I WATCHED TV A LOT

Since I started working in college, I was too busy to sit down and watch T.V. I was not a T.V- person for 10 years now. In the age of social media, we can say that T.V is not a necessity because we can now access everything on the internet and even news can now go live on Facebook or YouTube. But when I decided to live offline the only entertainment I have is the television in our living room. I watched Asian dramas dubbed in Tagalog and Filipino dramas, which I keep track of every episode. I also regularly turn on the T.V at noon to watch a noon time show that features inspiring stories of people in this time of pandemic. I discovered how I like to watch more on bigger screen than the small one on my phone.

I READ A TON OF BOOKS

I’m a reader. I grew up reading encyclopedias, dictionaries and Guiness World of Book Records. I also have a good amount of book sitting on my shelves that were hand me down by my friends and family. However when social media took over my life, they end up collecting dust and never touched simply because I prefer to read blogs on social media plus I  became more drawn into videos. When I left social media for a while, I got fascinated how fast I am at reading. I was able to finish 3 books in a month and go through all those books I have. I also became a regular customer of a Book Sale store near my place. Something I love about reading print materials is it takes me to a different world where I don’t have to worry on what is going on. I just have to go with the flow with the story I am reading and just look forward to the ending. It helps me reduce my stress and anxiety.

I RENOVATED MY PLACE

On the second month of my journey, I got inspired with all the videos of room make overs and house tours that pops on my YouTube feed. I decided to go all in and change the aesthetic of our house especially my room. For the past years, I never paid attention to my place simply because I have been constantly traveling most of the time and was never at home. With the community quarantine that is still going, I am forced to stay at home so I witnessed how our house was falling apart. With social media out of the way, I have more free time to nitpick the things to be done at home including the smallest details that needed repair. I used my travel fund to convert my old room into a functional bedroom and work space. I never thought that I have a creative side when I handed my design to the contractor for the renovation. This is by far the most productive thing I did during the whole quarantine.

I FOUND CLEANING TO BE VERY THERAPEUTIC

I am a clean and organized person to begin with but throughout this journey, I got myself into doing more household chores. I doubled the amount of housework I do with my excess time. I cleared and dusted every corner of our house and regularly cleaned the bathroom twice a week. Cleaning became my daily home workout. I felt better after getting rid of dirt. It also made me feel accomplished when I go around the house with dry and dust-free counters, tables and floors. This task is my escape from negativity of what was going on because it made me focused on making my place better without thinking of anything else.

THE RESULT

When I re-installed my accounts including my messaging apps my messages was blown by my friends who showed their concern for not hearing anything from me for quite some time. Although I’m better at handling things I saw online now I will still not be active and I will continue to log out from time to time to make way to more productive stuff and projects I am working on. Gladly, my absence in social media made me built a productive routine that I religiously follow. There is something peaceful about not knowing anything. My social media detox made me realize a lot of things. Social media is not bad at all. It is just how I dealt with it in the past. Unfortunately, I handled the things I saw badly. I focused more on the negative side than the positivity it brings. I let my insecurity won over other things I should be grateful of such as staying healthy and still having a job. Along the way, I had deep thoughts and evaluated my relationship with social media. I figured that I am okay without them. I can totally get by.  However, I also miss so many things on social media. I miss seeing and liking my friends’ posts. I miss keeping up with them. It felt so weird when I logged in again for the first time in many months. I was totally clueless of what happened to them especially when two of my friends got married and I wasn’t able to congratulate them. I started reaching out again to them although I am not as active as before. I also wanted to go back to reading useful articles about travels and watching entertaining videos. I realized that the comment section is a huge trigger to me especially when it comes to controversial news so I decided to quit reading and leaving comments on any articles to make my life at peace and also to save my time. These days whenever I see a controversial articles I just skip it to save me a lot of energy and remain unbothered.

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