Due to the continual doom and gloom associated with social media and the negative impact it can have, I decided to swallow the pill of reason and go cold turkey for a month.
I am one of the millions of guilty culprits of mindless Facebook feed scrolling, even though I am actively against too much phone time.
Hypercritical I know.
I have also suffered from a toxic mix of panic disorder, general anxiety and depression over the last few years and so I figured a social media cleanse could provide a big boost to my mental health.
After all I have lost count of how many articles demonise social media and find them responsible for the current mental health epidemic.
So to tie-in with Mental Health Awareness week, I decided to embark on the perilous quest to purge myself (specifically) of Facebook for a month.
I did consider doing it for a good cause, but then I figured that I couldn’t possibly spread the word enough, without the power of social media.
Oh the terrible irony.
So like an addict checking into to rehab, I went all in, alone.
I expected the first few days to be brutal. I thought I would have to wipe the sweat off my brow as I etched across the phone screen trying to resist the seductive temptation.
But it was in fact, easier than I thought.
There was no constant desire to check my news feed. No crippling anxiety at not having everything on tap.
What I didn’t anticipate though, was how automated my actions were in navigating towards the enemy. It didn’t even require any thought.
I lost count at how many times my finger came dangerously close to clicking on Facebook during that first week.
Otherwise, it was going great. So much so in fact, that I had stopped using other social media sites too.
But then at around the halfway point, I hit a brick wall. I was starting to get frustrated at my loss of contact with the wider world.
And if only I could say this was a phase.
I was getting quite frankly cheesed off, and this resentment continued to blossom as the days went by.
Interestingly I wasn’t plagued with anxiety or a burning desire to get my fix though.
I just found the whole thing pointless; and it just made me irritated.
I figured that at some point right at the end of my struggle, something would click and I would feel reborn.
Instead, I found myself latching on to other social media sites again and lusting for news the conventional ways.
And this is how my mission ended.
I just had a very small moment of satisfaction for what I had achieved.
What was strange though, is that I didn’t feel the desire to download Facebook again after the month was done; and so I probably went Facebook free for about 6 weeks in total.
I think I was kind of hoping that another few weeks would have a more substantial impact.
But it didn’t.
I can only conclude that I felt mildly more irritated and isolated as a result of my experiment.
I’m sure this will come as a shock to many and believe me I was most surprised.
And it took me a good while to assess why I obtained the outcomes I had.
So if I was to summarise my conclusion in one word, I would say it was down to ‘circumstance‘.
See I work from home everyday, a ‘circumstance’ born little out of choice, but rather necessity.
In a world that is littered with just me and four walls, it occurred to me that Facebook offers me some kind of connection to the world, that I would otherwise not have.
Now it is not to say this is in any way natural, but I think the big issue here is that we as a society are no longer living in a natural world.
The bigger problem that I see, is the overwhelming pressure our society places on us to succeed and sacrifice happiness for work.
Where I feel we have gone wrong, is by looking at our phones for an escape, for all the answers to our problems.
The simple fact that we have been forced to conjure up happiness rather than it being a natural occurrence.
What compounds the problem is that most of us simply look to our phones for happiness; and it is not the answer.
So what I can conclude is that I never really had a problem with phone addiction in the first place.
I was simply using it as a way of trying to conjure up happiness, without success.
Don’t get me wrong I think many of us (particularly the younger generations) may have slipped into addiction territory.
And for those that do, I think the media needs to add some further emphasis on what the real signs of phone addiction are. For example, using phones whilst conversing with other people. Or by turning to the phone as an avoidance strategy.
Otherwise, we are just being spoonfed yet more scaremongering news that will further compound our society based depression.
I’m no expert, but when put to the test, the conclusion was quite clear really.