Halfway into a month-long fast from social media, Collin Slattery wavers between enthusiasm and despair.
Editor’s Note: Collin Slattery has been conducting an experiment in withdrawing from social media. Although he still uses the internet for other purposes—email, making plans, reading, and working—he has stopped using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites. You can read the introduction to his experiment here, and his follow-up post a week later.
In his second week, Collin sent this submission and an essay, “Golfing With My Father,” which was published on the anniversary of his father’s death. In between submissions, Collin’s emails have expressed a blend of enthusiasm and despair. “I don’t know why I was expecting things to change,” he wrote a few days ago. And yet, they do.
Stay tuned for more updates. Here is Collin at the end of week 2.
I am halfway through my no social media experiment, and I’m not really entirely sure how I feel about everything. On the whole, things are definitely improving, but the original goal of this experiment—to be more social in real life—has not been successful to date.
Last week I mentioned how I was having more casual conversation with people in my day to day interactions, but I have seemed to have a bit of a backslide in this regard. I still feel more comfortable in my own skin, but I’ve returned to my tendency of hiding in my bubble in public: sunglasses on, headphones in my ears, and reading when I’m on the train. I don’t think going from being sick to severe sunburn to being sick again is helping me feel outgoing, but I don’t think it is the entire problem though it is a string of bad luck.
Many here probably know me as the perpetually depressed and miserable guy who can’t get out of his own way. From the start of the experiment on the 23rd of June through to the end of last week, I actually felt pretty good. I mentioned this to a friend of mine the other day, but this is the longest period of time I have ever gone without feeling severely depressed. It is unfortunate that the longest stretch of feeling pretty good in my entire life is less than two weeks, but that is still a huge change. In the past, my typical “up” period would be between 2 and 6 hours with severe shifts every single day and often multiple times per day. Social media was one of my primary triggers, and without it, I feel much better.
I was feeling depressed this weekend, but it was not nearly as severe as normal. My world wasn’t coming apart at the seams; I was just feeling depressed. With that said, I think a great deal of it had to do with my physical state not being great and the fact that tomorrow (Thursday) is the 13th anniversary of my father’s death. There is always rumination around this time of year for me, but I am impressed with the way I’ve handled it thus far.
Here we get to the biggest change in the past week … doing something I have wanted to do for a long time. I’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar—I’ve been playing the piano since I was a toddler—but I have never gone and actually made an effort to learn the guitar. Last Monday, I bought a guitar, and I’ve been teaching myself to play. It feels really good to make a decision to do something and do it. My progress with it has been impressive and has been limited only by the lack of calluses on my fingers. I intend to be good enough in a month to be able to play in front of other people. I love to sing and play music, so I hope this will enable me to do that.
With this experiment more than half over, I can’t say that I am overwhelmed by the changes; however, I am not displeased by the progress. Considering the mitigating circumstances, I should probably be ecstatic, but I never expected this to cure my perfectionism and it hasn’t.
Read more on Collin’s no social media experiment:
—Photo credit: blumblaum/Flickr