Humans and Health

Digital Detoxing: A week without Social Media.

For someone who wants to work in media, you may ask what provoked me going cold turkey from social media. I wouldn’t say I was addicted, maybe a bit reliant. What provoked this hiatus was a wide and generally miserable feeling: A deep dissatisfaction that my summer isn’t quite living up to everyone else’s. Whereas everyone else looked so satisfied and content with friends, family, perfect holidays, incredible internships and wondrous bikini bodies, I felt like I was falling short.

It is important to remember that what I was seeing of my friends on social media were cherry-picked moments, carefully cultivated social media presences. I myself am guilty of this; I suppose that’s what I show to the world as well. I cherry pick the best parts. No-one shares photos of themselves looking worse for wear the day after, only the glorious moments of the night before. So to stop constantly comparing myself to others, I avoided social media for a week. I decided I could text and call but that’s the extent.


I’ve been busy today, seeing some friends, so it’s kinda been fine. I haven’t felt too out of the loop.

Okay I lied I slipped up once, just the once. I found my fingers wandering to Facebook without me even knowing what they were doing, and before I knew it…

I’m going to delete all the apps, remove all temptation. Let’s start tomorrow.


An unexpected pleasure of this experience has been people watching while waiting for a bus or a train, or looking at your drink at the bar, I felt compelled to look up and at the world around me. I realised that I forgot just how much I love people watching.


The instant reflex when I wake up is to usually check my phone, check Facebook, scroll through Insta and twitter. This reflex I share with pretty much all our generation, the first half hour of the day is simply wasted, but it feels weird not to have this routine.

This is the first time I have slept without my phone in bed with me in god knows how long. I also actually managed to get up when my alarm went off and get out of bed, as the alarm was on the other side of my room. A small victory.

The whole thing about not using screens before bed has actually proven true for me. As someone who struggles to get to sleep, I found myself drifting off quite easily.


Over summer, I am working in a pub to pay for my fun. I’m not allowed my phone on shift anyway (which might mean I’m half-cheating with this challenge slightly) but being behind a bar, does allow for some top class people-watching. This shift I watched everyone on their phones, losing count of how many times I was asked the Wifi password, which I found genuinely quite saddening. You go out for a drink with your friends or your family to spend some quality time with them but many become too busy scrolling through Instagram to notice the time are sharing with these people. I vow from henceforth to live in the moment and to make sure quality time is actually quality time.


Due to work I’m always behind on Love Island. Another unexpected pleasure of this challenge is that I’ve had no spoilers.


I’ve realised that without social media I have no idea what some of my friends are actually up to. I have had to text them/give them a call to find out how they are.

Another unexpected pleasure: a social media hiatus allows me to find out what’s going on in the lives of the people I actually, exclusively care about. Before starting I thought the whole ‘no social media thing’ might be detrimental to my social life, when in actuality everyone I care about has my number anyway.


Okay okay, I tried. I lasted 5 days; which is longer than I thought I would and I have come out a changed woman. From here onward I vow to check social media only twice a day; I vow to be more present; to not be the person glued to my phone at drinks out with my friends and I will certainly stop comparing myself with Instagram models I occasionally see, because let’s face it, even they don’t look like that in real life.

Social media is a great thing, a wonderful way of connecting to friends and family and a wonderful way of letting people into your world. It is however, also an awful thing: it showcases an altered perception of reality. What you see is definitely not what you get, it’s cherry-picked highlights, it’s edited or manipulated in some other better than life way. So while it looks like everyone else is having an incredible time, they probably look at you and think the same thing.

Elle Magill

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Image courtesy of Animated Heaven via Flickr, License here

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