As someone who reinstalled social media out of curiosity to see what apps like Instagram and Snapchat look like now, I can personally attest to the evidence that the world needs to disconnect from social media.
I took a break from social media in 2021, the pandemic era that caused the world to quarantine. It was very scary but something that changed my life forever.
How did it happen? How did someone like me who was once addicted to social media with a screen time of more than eight hours suddenly quit cold turkey? I’m going to say exactly what my very old friend, a philosophy major, said to inspire me:
“In life, it isn’t always necessary to conform to society’s standards,” whether it’s getting a tattoo of a rat on your neck because your friend group is doing the same, or saying you enjoy Marvel simply because it’s what’s “popular” but don’t even understand what infinity stones are. If someone is on an app that constantly stresses them out, it’s simply best to delete the app and take a long break.
When I deleted social media, I hoped to never have to look back at the apps ever again. Not only does social media cause young students (at the average age of twelve years old) to compulsively over-consume online content, but it also generates a large amount of dopamine that activates the brain’s reward system, which is the same effect that alcohol and drugs like heroin and meth have according to scopeblog.stanford.edu.
Those who have the chance to take a break from social media will actually feel the benefits. My break from social media allowed me to become much more social and productive than I ever could have predicted, which included teaching myself how to make friends in real life and not be dependent on making friends online.
The internet can be a scary place, not just in terms of content, but in terms of the overall expectation that social media should be something we will have for the rest of our lives, the same constant cycle of looking down instead of up.
Which brings me to my next set of questions: When was the last time you looked up at the stars or the clouds? Had the chance to keep the conversation going without having to take a phone break? Woke up in the morning just looking at the ceiling or reading a book instead of scrolling on your phone?
The overall pressure to have to download social media can feel like being hit by a bag of rocks; on the other hand, the thought of deleting it and losing an online status, online friends, and an online presence where you want to be perceived can feel like a creeping void. When deleting social media, I can’t say that this feeling goes away, nor will it become better.
People are always going to want to be seen, to have friends, to make connections with people, whether it’s sentimental or professional. This makes us humans. Regardless, if real life still gives you this feeling, then why add another layer of weight to it by being online?
This especially goes out to people who want to romanticize their lives and want to find meaning in them. There are plenty of ways to start doing this, whether it is attending the events on campus or even the many clubs that are a part of campus (even club hopping, which can be very fun). I can assure you that making friends in real life is not a lost art.
The start to finding purpose in one’s life beyond social media is by experiencing the world. As a 22-year-old, I promise that social media is simply a tiny ant compared to the vast and meaningful possibilities of the world.
Confessions of a Quiet Girl is an advice column meant to help those who need advice on anything. If you want to send a letter or a confession to be published in the paper or just to get advice, please don’t be afraid to contact me by following this link.
Dalila Ben is a junior majoring in English literature and minoring in classical studies.