8 Things I Learned From a Social Media Detox

I've had two great successes so far this summer - going a full month without drinking and completing my first Olympic Triathlon

But there was also a notable "failure" when I attempted to go 30 days without social media and lasted about 16. Hands down, giving up social media was harder than giving up alcohol. I'm somewhat disappointed in myself for not sticking it out until day 30 but at the same time, I took away a ton of lessons from the first 2+ weeks and feel refreshed and not-as-addicted. 

Here were a few main takeaways from the failed social experiment - just over two weeks of no Instagram, Facebook, dating apps and Snapchat!


1.       I didn’t miss out on invitations to things.

Sure, I probably missed some Facebook event invites that I would have marked myself as “interested” in, only to ignore as the date approached. Whenever I do this, I have a slight pang of guilt that I’m not attending – not necessarily FOMO but the feeling that I should be out doing something.

But invitations to things with friends – invitations to things that I really wanted to be a part of – nope, I didn’t miss any of those invites. Because my friends are my friends because they like me and enjoy my company…so it would make sense that they would send a text about something I might be interested in. They know me pretty well, after all. Exhibit A - this amazing summer Friday lunch at Jajaja!


2.       People assumed that plans fell through because there was no social media evidence that they happened.

It was comical how many people thought that I ended up not going to the Boardy Barn over July 4 weekend because I didn’t Snapchat or Instagram the experience. In fact, I did a lot over 16 days despite the fact that it wasn’t documented on social media! It was very freeing to not be constantly composing the perfect picture.

Boardy Barn Long Island

3.       Friends still thought about me while I was off-the-grid.

I still got texts of memes or pictures that friends saw online that reminded them of me. It wasn’t like I became insignificant without social media.

4.       I still take a lot of pictures.

While it was nice to not try to get a picture-perfect shot or video of every moment,  I still found myself taking pictures of almost everything. I’m just a picture person I guess. That being said, it was eye-opening to realize that whether we like to admit it or not, when we post on social media, we are essentially bragging – “look how great this moment of my day was! Aren’t you jealous? Don’t you wish you were here?!” We all do it – but it was nice to just take a picture because the sunset was pretty with no other pretenses. 

Long Island Sunset

5.       Email is underrated!

For someone who likes writing – email is a perfect mix between a letter and a text. Because let’s face it, texts are pretty surface-level. I found myself writing more emails while I was off of social media – but emails that actually had some substance to them.

Plus, everyone’s on their computer during the work day anyway – so it was a nice way to break up the day to get an email from a friend instead of scrolling through my Instagram feed for the 100th time in 2 hours.

6.       I felt more content than I remember feeling in a long time.

During the two weeks I didn’t have social media – I had this overwhelming sense of contentment. Not constantly comparing my weekend to someone else’s really allowed me to just appreciate how I was choosing to spend my time. And to appreciate the people I was with, the places I was going, the workouts I was enjoying, etc.

I wish there was a way to be on Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and maintain this level of contentedness but I really think that it takes a huge, unconscious toll on us to constantly be peering into other people’s lives and unknowingly holding ours up against it.

Fourth of July weekend I didn’t rent a beach house, I didn’t go to a lake house with 20 of my closest friends. The following weekend I didn’t go exploring waterfalls on a tropical island. I went for a long run in my neighborhood, sat at the yacht club with my parents drinking gin and tonics, wandered around Williamsburg and swam in the Hudson with my best friends – and I realized how much I love those low-key weekends with no major plans. The weekends that I allow to unfold instead of scheduling every minute of. They’re a nice change of pace – even if everyone else on my Instagram is chronicling their world travels.

We all know that social media serves as someone’s highlight reel – but I’d rather my life be a great movie than a crappy one with a good trailer.

Fourth of July NYC Rooftop

7.       I had so much more time!

It’s scary how many minutes and hours I day we spend scrolling. Or at least I know I do. In 16 days, I read 5 BOOKS. 5!

It was so nice to use my brain more. And I finally checked out a creative writing workshop I’ve been wanting to go to! It was a great way to spend a night and I’m really glad I went.

It’s no shock that these are the two weeks I also successfully grocery shopped and meal prepped and felt so happy in my routine and rhythm (this also had to do with the fact that I was also home for two weeks straight – a rare occurrence).

Gotham Writer's Write-In

8.       It’s so easy to fall back into it.

Once I redownloaded Instagram and Facebook (I’m still Snapchat free, for now) – I was disappointed in how quickly I fell back into old habits of scrolling endlessly and frequently.

So why did I go back? It’s addictive, man! I missed the pretty pictures, the posts that inspire new travel plans, the memes that nail a situation spot on and make me burst out laughing. I was trying to plan my trips to Banff, Copenhagen and Stockholm and wanted to look at pictures that others have posted in these places. I wanted restaurant recommendations and food porn! I got sucked back in – 100%.

Despite the fact that I failed to make it 30 days – I’m glad for the 16 days I did survive, because they were a pretty nice break and a chance to get off the grid and realize just how pervasive social media is in my life.

Every day I found myself fighting back the urge to open up one of my apps – my thumb just seemed to float to where the icon used to be on its own accord.

I’m trying to cut back. I think a huge step for me would to not allow myself to wake up and immediately go on my phone and to force myself to read or journal right before falling asleep. But those are the two times I find myself trapped in the constant scrolling the most!

Maybe that’s my next challenge.