I have to adult for two whole months this summer: I’ve (sort of unwittingly) acquired a full-time internship. I’m really excited; it means I get to perform undergraduate research concerning the social aspects of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (a mouthful, I know). I’m also taking a (boring) online class, and working on a separate project for the same lab I’ll be working at during June and July.
Last summer, I spent a lot of time driving around town with my friends and singing along to the Pixies.
So, you know, it’s a bit of a change in pace.
These last two semesters have been, in a way, an un-funded psychological study of their own accord. I may not be attending a poster session to display my results, but I have been blogging about it. I quit Netflix at the beginning of the first semester. Second semester, I quit Pinterest and Facebook. I’ve taken the Instagram app off my phone. Whenever I wrote or talked about this, I told people I’d start everything back up again in the summer. Goodbye, responsible adult behavior. Hello, binge-watching and scrolling.
Except that I haven’t. I haven’t re-activated a single account. I haven’t used Netflix, aside from a few movie nights with friends. I quit everything. And now I don’t want it back, in part because I have a busy summer, but also because I’m a lot happier with these things out of my life.
Quitting these sites was difficult at first because I had to establish new habits in place of banned ones, and reason socially about staying off popular sites. I couldn’t talk to my friends about Netflix shows either, because I hadn’t seen them. I felt a little bit like a social pariah: No, I didn’t see that meme, and also no, I don’t watch that show.
And then, something miraculous happened. All my friends remained my friends. They continued to want to talk and hang out, and we had good conversations. I realized I had been using Facebook and Netflix in part because they appeared to be a social convention. I didn’t want to be singled out for being the only person not using them. I didn’t want people to roll their eyes at me or consider me to be some sort of snob who thinks she’s better than everyone else.
Instead, it went a little something like this:
“Hey, do you watch Stranger Things?”
“Oh, okay. Wanna get bento?”
“Facebook sold everyone’s data! If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. I’m getting rid of it, what about you?”
“One step ahead of you. Come on in, the water’s warm.”
If you start cutting yourself off, it’ll be hard for a few days. You might find yourself substituting one bad habit for another: No Facebook, more Instagram Discover. It is also common, I have learned, to receive unsolicited text messages from social media sites that notice you’ve reduced your viewership trying to tempt you back in. (Thankfully, I’m stubborn and that just makes me dig my heels in more. As a matter of fact, I think it helped me keep my resolution. I haven’t been on in a while, you say? Let me delete this text with my middle finger and see how you like that, Silicon Valley.) Still, eventually, I had to block Instagram because it started sending me daily messages. And as irritating as it was, it informed my opinion of these social media sites: they want you to be hooked, and they’re not letting you go easily. It was kind of like a clingy ex that just can’t stop texting you and telling you about how they’re going to go hang out at some girl’s house. (I said we’re taking a break, Instagram, go see whoever you want.)
But if you can ignore Insta’s pleading texts, there’s some real benefits to getting rid of semi-addicting media. I started reading more, blogging more, writing more, cooking more, baking more, and every now and then, I did my assignments early. Granted, it’s no magic bullet. I’m still great at lying around and wasting time. But my brain is less cluttered. I’m less overwhelmed. It’s easier to exist when there’s not a billion bytes of content flying at you every second. It’s a sort of minimalism of the mind, if you will. Our brains can only process so much. Less is more, especially in the digital age, which isn’t going to go away.
My resolution isn’t a resolution anymore. It’s my reality, and it’s one that I like, at least for now.
But what about you? What sites are you still on? Do you think quitting time-wasting habits is a possibility for you? Or do you think I’m out of mind? Comment down below and let me know. If you convert oxygen to carbon dioxide, like this post and follow my lovely blog. Or don’t. I’m not your mom or whatever.