Social media has received a lot of backlash in the news lately, due to Insta-celebs coming forward and pointing out how staged their feed is—and they kind of have a point. Who hasn't stopped mid-sentence to Instagram their Eggs Benedict at brunch? I mean, let's be honest, we've all done it. Social media has become a culture of comparison, one full of #OOTD photos and gym selfies.
One day I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, as millennials are known to do, when I noticed something: the further I scrolled, the worse I felt about myself. I follow so many fashion and beauty accounts for work, and when I looked at my own photos—even with the knowledge that this is not real life—they felt incredibly lackluster by comparison. If who you are on social media is who you are to the world, then I was a cat-lady who maybe overdid it with the Valencia filter.
At nearly 27 years old, I am exactly who I wanted to be as a teen. I have my dream job at a kick-ass beauty site (shameless plug) and am surrounded by people who love me, flaws and all. And yet none of this is enough to convince that nagging voice in my head that I'm worthy of all the success I have achieved or all the love in my life. Maybe this social media addiction and my self-confidence were somehow linked?
I vowed that 2016 would be the year I took an active role in not only accepting who I am, but actually loving myself. I hypothesized that by limiting my usage of social media, my overall self-confidence would improve. I restricted my social media usage to only Facebook for two whole weeks over the holiday break—that meant no #NYE Instagram party posts, no pictures of the gifts people received for Christmas, nothing. This was not going to be easy.
I noticed a psychological change almost immediately. The first day, I was surprised by how pointless my phone became without social media. I've never been a big texter, so I found myself going entire stretches of time without even looking at my phone. Furthermore, I no longer felt a need to share what I was doing—and I did some pretty cool stuff over break. I hiked up a mountain and didn't Instagram the view from the top. In fact, I barely took any pictures, because I knew I couldn't post them. Yep, my New Year's Eve went undocumented. If I wanted to know what a friend was up to, I simply asked them instead of stalking their Instagram. You know, like a normal person! In disconnecting from social media, I was able to enjoy my own life more. It was the emotional equivalent of a juice cleanse.
I had an epiphany and it was this: by focusing more on what I was doing in that moment, I stopped focusing on what other people were posting, and therefore felt better about myself. After the two weeks were over, social media seemed like a burden I no longer wanted to carry. I was actually reluctant to re-download the app. Although zero social media altogether seems a bit unsustainable in the long-run, I do think I would benefit from having one day a week where I disconnect entirely from my phone. I'd like to apologize in advance to my boss for any unanswered emails.
This article originally appeared on MIMI; Small Changes, Big Results: Why I Didn't Check Instagram for Two Whole Weeks, Elysia Berman