At the end of a week without social media, Collin Slattery is becoming aware of the changes in himself.
The first week without social media is over. It has been, for better and worse, a very interesting week. I started this experiment expecting massive, rapid change in pretty much every facet of my life. This is not what has happened. I assumed that by the end of my first week, I would go from being someone with fairly severe social anxiety to a social butterfly; I have not.
The most glaring thing I noticed is that of all the people who I am friends with on Facebook, only three have contacted me outside of Facebook to ask about deactivating my account. What does it say about my relationships that after a week without an account on Facebook, only three people noticed or thought to maybe get in touch with me? Has our digital socializing made even the effort of picking up the phone or sending a text message too much, or does it make us so self-centered we don’t even realize when someone disappears? Perhaps I just make a poor choice of friends.
My social anxiety is definitely less oppressive than it was last week. I am not the life of the party, but I have noticed changes. I am more likely to have conversations with random people. I have not been initiating conversations with, say, cute girls on the street in an effort to get a phone number, but I will participate in a bit of banter with cashiers when getting food. Worrying about what people would think, if they’d find my comment funny, and whether they would find me weird did not even cross my mind this afternoon getting lunch. I did not even realize the magnitude of this change until writing about it now.
With that said, I definitely feel more isolated. Surprisingly though, I feel less lonely. Sitting at home and reading stuff on Facebook used to make me quite depressed. I feel a comfort in my solitude that I did not have before. I am choosing to be alone as opposed to being ostracized. I do not get into negative feedback loops that quickly ruin my day. I still get episodes, but they are shorter and shallower than before.
The best and most noticeable change so far is the fact that I am far less stressed than I used to be. I cannot remember a time in my life where I am less stressed than I am today. I no longer have to rush and try to create this image of myself that I am comfortable sharing with others; I can do what I want, when I want, at the pace I want without considering the opinions of other people.
I am truly interested to see how week two will shape up. Change takes time, but I hope it definitely continues. I also need to decide how much I want to push myself and for what reasons. I initially wanted to really push myself just so that I could write about all these massive changes that were taking place. Now, I am not sure if trying to force changes for the sake of more interesting content is really the way to go. This is, after all, the changes that taking a hiatus from social media creates, not what I can prove to strangers on the internet.
Read more on Collin’s experiment:
30 Days Without Social Media: Two Weeks In (coming soon)
—Photo credit: whologwhy/Flickr