ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

UNPLUGGED: Starting My New Life Without Social Media

Updated on March 16, 2018
theLukeSchulte profile image

Luke Schulte is a featured contributor to local San Antonio print and television media. He is an actor, activist, and equality advocate.

Hit Me, Baby, One More Time

Source

The First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem

It's almost embarrassing to admit—I mean, I'm nearly 40—but until a week ago, I couldn't go more than a few minutes without opening Facebook or Instagram on my iPhone or my computer at work. I'd begun sending friend requests to friends of friends-of-friends and people I had no connection with IRL at all, convinced that I didn't have enough followers. I started wondering what hashtags to use in my next post about my dog or my lunch or my workout, struggling to find creative and effective ways to connect with complete strangers, instead of getting as much sleep as a I needed before work or walking the dog I was so proud of online. I'd become anxious if a message wasn't read right away or if a post didn't get its first like after only a few minutes. Were people listening to me? Were they paying attention? Was I cute, funny, charming, informative, through-provoking? Could I call myself a "social influencer" yet? Was I enough? Was I liked?

In short, I was a mess. Social media had become like an addiction, and I had faced more than my share of those in life. These apps weren't fun anymore. They were work! I was starting to determine my popularity and even my sense of self-worth by my number of likes and shares, follows and friend requests. I couldn't put my phone down. I didn't want to put it down. What if I missed something?

What could I possibly miss?

Signs of Any Addiction

Source

Just Like A Pill

I've been down this road a time or two. First, booze. Then, cocaine. Then, booze and cocaine. Then, pills. Then, booze and cocaine and pills. For me, social media was becoming just like any of my previous addictions. Instead of distracting me from the anxiety and depression I already felt in my day to day life, it was beginning to make things worse. Instead of connecting me to other people, it was reminding me how lonely I felt.

Recognizing any addiction relies on your ability to be honest with yourself. Most recovery programs diagnose an addiction by asking you the same questions: Has it—whatever it is—begun to negatively affect your life and have you been unable to stop using it?

A little sleep may not seem like a meaningful impact, but as someone who has struggled with achieving deep, restful, restorative sleep my entire adult life, even a little less sleep affects me throughout the day. I am more easily distracted, more easily agitated and more emotional in general during days before which I haven't slept well. My back and feet hurt more easily. I crave more sugar and caffeine. And I smoke more.

The most alarming symptom of my social media addiction was that I couldn't not open the apps. I could recognize that I was on Facebook and Instagram more than I wanted to be, more than I was comfortable with, but I couldn't just not use them and I didn't know why. It was making me feel bad, and I still couldn't stop.

It sounds ridiculous. I know. It sounds like I'm talking about heroin or Oxy or something. The truth is it doesn't matter what you're talking about, whether it's hard drugs or timelines, your brain can turn anything you enjoy into an addiction and cause your body to have a real and measurable reaction to it...or its absence.

You Don't Have To Take My Word For It

Like A Bad Breakup

I had finally had enough about a week ago. I was done. I had waded through the online whiny waters of the web and read all the passive-aggressive relationship complaints; the miscellaneous, misogynistic, race-baiting, anti-liberal, anti-women, anti-men, anti-LGBT, pro-gun, pro-life, "can this veteran cancer patient get a like and a share," "repost if you're not afraid to love Jesus," and "help me find my birth mom" posts I could stomach. I published a message telling my friends and loved ones that I was deleting all social media at the end of the day and would be gone..."for a while."

Twitter was the first to meet the firing squad. I hadn't used it in months and it was already deleted from my phone. I signed-in on my PC to make it official, and the first of the waves of passive-aggression crashed over me. You don't have to go. We'll keep your room just the way you left it in case you want to move back in. All you have to do is re-enter your password at any time in the next 30 days. Jesus. Clingy much?

The next app to get the kibosh was SnapChat. It wasn't easy. They don't want you to go. I searched my account settings for deactivation instructions. I clicked a button. I waited.... Fine. You can leave, they seemed to say. But we think you'll be back. We'll save your account for 30 days. All you have to do to change your mind is sign back in, and we'll forget you tried to leave us. Et tu, Brute?

Instagram was next. The process was simpler. Two choices: temporarily disable or completely delete. I didn't want to lose all of the photos on my wall, so I chose the temp option. Enter your password to confirm. Done. Account is on hold till I sign in again. No begging. No backtalk.

Now, Facebook? Whole different story. I might need a restraining order. I just wanted a trial separation, not a full-blown divorce. Not possible. If you want to leave, you can have a day or two.... Seven max. And then you're coming home whether you like it or not. Your account is automatically reactivated after 7 days and then you have to re-deactivate it. I'm pretty sure that they're pretty sure I won't re-download the app just to re-deactivate it without scrolling through my timeline, giving me just enough of the digital opiate to make me rethink my abstinence and convince my inner addict that this time will be different. I'll be smarter, stronger somehow. I'll set limits.

Sound familiar?

Not A Young Person's Problem

Source

Expert Opinion

In the video below, Dr. Cal Newport, a computer scientist and professor at MIT, describes why he's never had a social media account and how his life is measurably the better for it.

An Anti-Social Media Computer Scientist

28 Days? 12 Steps?

No. This isn't a Sandra Bullock movie. I didn't need a formal detox program to separate me from social media. I haven't developed cold sweats or an uncontrollable tremor since deleting the apps from my phone. I'm not nauseated or chain smoking. I haven't replaced my addiction with another—although I am trying to read more—and I haven't claimed powerlessness and sought sanctuary in religion. It was a simple fix. I said goodbye and I left.

I don't know how long of a hiatus I'll take. It's only been a week. I still find myself grabbing my phone and checking to see if I've gotten new texts or emails when I'm bored, although I am looking at it less and less.

It's early in this experiment yet, but I already feel less anxious and depressed. My feelings aren't hurt for no reason by strangers. I'm sleeping better, longer. And I'm using my time more constructively. I think it will be interesting to see what changes I've made in a month, when it's time to re-deactivate my accounts and Facebook my demons....

Wanna Know More?

You can track my social media-less journey by following me on.... Just kidding! Weren't you paying attention?

© 2018 Luke Anthony Schulte

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • theLukeSchulte profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke Anthony Schulte 

      8 months ago from San Antonio, Texas, USA

      Thanks, Carolyn. I nearly thought that posting this was cheating since I can see how many people read the article and can receive comments, but I don't spend nearly as much time here, so I figured I was safe.

      I agree. Facebook has gone to a weird, dark place. I don't really enjoy it since the election.

      Thanks again!

    • Carolyn M Fields profile image

      Carolyn Fields 

      8 months ago from South Dakota, USA

      This is a wonderful hub. I really like the video segment with Morgan Freeman. I don't have a twitter account, or snapchat, or even Instagram. I just have Facebook and LinkedIn. And of course, HubPages . . . which really isn't social media, but it's like drinking decaf coffee when you're trying to cut back on the real stuff.

      I find myself posting less and less on Facebook. It got really NASTY during the election cycle, and hasn't really come back to the warm fuzzy place it once was.

      Good look with your journey.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)