I tend to randomly disappear. Not in real life. I’m talking about going AWOL on social media for a handful of days, sometimes months. I’m hopeful that one day, it’ll be forever.
I do it because frankly, it’s suffocating. I’m not exaggerating in saying that it’s actually toxic to spend so much time on the internet. Taking a break feels like having a breath of fresh air. In essence, disconnecting is reconnecting with yourself and your surroundings.
Spending too much time on apps, especially Instagram, has been found to cause negative mental health impacts. Facebook for example, WhatsApp and IG’s parent company, reports that “thirty-two per cent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.” Researchers also found that “comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”
And it all has to do with the algorithm. It’s the invisible hand that picks and chooses what content you’ll be exposed to, tailored by trends and your activity on the app. In an era where physical appearances really matter, the perception we have of ourselves and others is now hampered with. ‘Toxic’ and ‘harmful’ are words used when referring to these new agoras. Yet, most aspects of our lives online are still ultra-polished, extremely neat and tunnel-visioned. As a result, you’re left with the vicarious feeling of never being enough, not good enough and not up to everyone else’s standards.
Pulling the plug out of the wall for some time is practically a necessity these days. Don’t get me wrong, it does get a little inconvenient at times. But when done intentionally, you slowly become less dependent on it all. You can focus on spending time seeing my friends rather than quickly texting them, you’ll have more time to go back to the few things you enjoy doing, and you might actually sleep better.
Having a peep at the data of my screen-time usage is actually scary. Here are the receipts. I spend an average of almost 6 hours a day on my phone alone, split between two hours and a half scrolling on Instagram, an hour messing around on Twitter and another chatting on Messenger as well as another twenty on top of the rest on WhatsApp. Considering that I also work from my computer, the amount of actual time spent using my eyes to look at real things is close to almost nothing if you take sleeping hours away.
Resetting was needed and I can only advise others to do the same. Treat it like a fast from social media, Ramadan is still on for another two weeks still which is plenty of time, as well as the perfect opportunity, to free yourself from Instagrams shackles and gruesome influence.