I Tried Deleting All My Social Media Apps, and This Is What Happened

No, I haven’t suddenly become a BuzzFeed video producer with this article title.

Over this past spring break, I did a lot of what I do best: nothing. I mean, who doesn’t love some good ol’ fashioned stationary activity? While some people went on vacation to live their best lives, I simply stayed wedged between my sofa cushions, unwilling to traverse the treacherous waters of my living room. And, as one does when presented with such an opportunity to laze around, I spent plenty of time browsing my phone. A lot of time, to be more specific. I became one of those millennials that middle-aged adults complain about, the ones who get into accidents because they were too busy staring at their phones when walking. This was the one saving grace of my spring break hibernation; no matter how much time I spent browsing social media, at least I wasn’t getting into any car wrecks! But, quite frankly, I was aware (in my hazy, couch-potato mind) that my behavior was becoming a bit ridiculous.

I didn’t decide to make a change until a conveniently placed spark of inspiration came my way in the form of a YouTube video. Whenever I want a daily dose of news, I watch Philip DeFranco’s informative videos. But, on one particular day, DeFranco talked about much more than the world’s current events. While doing his Friday show, he explained how he had deleted his social media apps from his phone and that he felt much less anxiety as a result. This got me thinking about my iPhone’s Screen Time feature, and how often I had ignored my stats in the past. How many of those hours that I had spent on social media could potentially improve my quality of life? I didn’t need anyone else to tell me that the answer to that question was probably “zero.” With renewed resolve, I deleted every social networking app on my phone except for Netflix and Facebook Messenger (hey, a girl needs to stay in contact!).

Now, if I wanted to waste hours browsing the Internet, I would need to use my laptop instead. I felt that being forced to use a computer would bring forth a sense of accountability, so I purged my phone without fear. Unfortunately, my laptop’s motherboard decided to go on strike, causing the device to break down in my hour of need. Talk about timing.

Art by Alex

Despite feeling such conviction just a few days earlier, I now had one fewer resource to get online. How could a laptopless, bored college student on spring break hope to cope? If I was ever awake in the middle of the night, how could I lull my mind to sleep if I didn’t have Tumblr to browse? Even if I had a legitimate reason to access the Internet (such as checking my grades), I needed to either mooch computer time off a family member or crack open the cell phone I was trying to hard to avoid using. Needless to say, this life event threw a bit of a wrench into my plans.

In the end, I decided to redownload Facebook for the sake of communication, as well as YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr. Because these apps were the ones that used up most of my time, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d failed my own challenge before it even began. Sure, I could blame my laptop for breaking, but I knew I was at fault, too.

I did end up with somewhat of a consolation, though. Instagram and Snapchat have not made any reappearances since I deleted them, seeing as I was never too attached to those apps in the first place. Nevertheless, I’m counting those two as small victories for myself.

Did ridding myself of social media make me feel any less anxious? I don’t think so, but that could be because I’m cheating at my own game. I’m not always such a compulsive social media user, since the extent of my usage mostly amounts to scrolling through posts as a method to wake up in the morning. So, maybe my quote-unquote “addiction” was never so bad in the first place?

Long story short, this experiment definitely needs a do-over once my laptop is fixed. Until then, I think I’ll try deleting, say, one app per week until all my social media is gone. I’m someone who does things slowly and in moderation, so I think adjusting the task to fit my own needs is perfectly alright. Taking it slow may be just the way to go, after all.