My ‘dry’ January: What I learned from a month without social media

Editor’s Note: Jacque Smith is an govt producer for CNN Digital Online video.



CNN
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I deleted Instagram and TikTok. I logged out of Fb and Twitter. I vaguely remembered I even now had a Snapchat account and taken out it from my app library in advance of I put my cellphone down.

Then I took a deep breath.

It was January 1, 2022, and my New Year’s “micro-resolution” was to give up social media for a thirty day period. I identified as it my “dry” January. (Let us be honest — with the Omicron variant raging last month, providing up alcohol was out of the concern.)

I realized I would still have to have to log into my social accounts to look at movies for perform. But I needed — and it’s possible desired — the incessant, absent-minded scrolling on social media to quit.

Thirty days afterwards, here’s what I realized.

It was obligatory. All through the first 7 days of January, I picked up my phone at least when an hour for no other purpose than to scroll through my social media feeds. With the apps no for a longer time out there to open, I’d hesitate with my thumb hovering over the home monitor, unsure of what to do subsequent.

Merely putting down the telephone appeared like admitting defeat. Surely there was one thing else I employed this product for every 3 minutes. I could glance via my digicam roll to see what I’d been up to the very last handful of days. Or peruse the CNN app. Usually I scrolled by way of now-read through operate e-mails to make sure I hadn’t skipped nearly anything important.

Does this sound unfortunate? It felt unfortunate to me.

Researchers have instructed us for yrs that social media can present your mind with a continuous stream of dopamine, a mind chemical that influences your mood. Dopamine rewards us for pleasurable behavior and encourages us to do extra of it. Not incredibly, dopamine is also the most important neurotransmitter included in habit.

Cell phone addiction is not however a health-related diagnosis. But I did not like the feeling of not getting able to regulate the impulse. And though following a few months I picked up my cellphone less, the phantom emotion of a little something I utilised to do all the time lingered.

I at the time browse a e-book named “168 Hours: You Have Much more Time Than You Feel” by Laura Vanderkam. Turns out, it is legitimate — in particular if you give up social media.

During the thirty day period, I took edge of pockets of time that I utilized to commit scrolling to look at off my to-do record. Moments waiting for the train were being invested ending the past chapter of my guide club book. If I experienced 5 minutes before I was going to fulfill some good friends, I loaded the dishwasher. Standing in line at the grocery retail store, I scheduled a mend person to resolve our condominium lock. It was remarkable what I could get accomplished in limited bouts of time when I experienced nothing at all else to distract me.

My partner was away on a monthslong operate excursion over the holidays, and when he arrived property, I desired to shout it from the rooftops. Also lousy those people rooftops had been dismantled. One by one, I sent text messages to his mother and my mother and my coworkers and our mutual good friends. Several cramped fingers later on, I was carried out.

This is not me complaining. I’m incredibly grateful to have a supportive community of household and pals. But cultivating individuals relationships outdoors of the faux social media planet usually takes time and vitality. I referred to as and requested how they had been executing, rather of just swiping via their tales. I set up meal dates alternatively of sitting down on my couch looking at their dinner from afar. Over time, I discovered which friendships I would dedicate that electrical power to, who would give it back again to me, and which buddies were being generally on line acquaintances.

To be clear, I have to have each types of close friends. I need to have the kinds who send me memes at 1 a.m. (how I missed the memes!) and I require the types I can call at 1 a.m. when lacking my partner some thing intense. A month without having social media just reminded me how crucial it is to prioritize paying out time with my favored persons in real daily life.

Social media is not all poor. Yes, I follow people today who do stupid stunts and strangers who rant about their political views. But I also really like to stick to vacation photographers, little-household advocates, and DIYers who are all a lot more inventive than I will at any time be. I follow 1 75-calendar year-outdated excess weight lifter on Instagram who could kick my ass. (Seemingly 35 is too quickly to give up and embrace the sofa *insert shrug emoji*)

These men and women encourage me. They support me image a planet in which I are living in 250 sq. toes without having murdering my spouse at the foot of a mountain vary in Italy, upcoming to a turquoise lake exactly where I paddleboard daily to keep up my 6-pack ab muscles, when ready for the paint to dry on my newest craft job.

Without social media, I dropped some of people daydreams. That also, was unhappy.

Now that it’s February, I’m bringing a several of the apps back again. I could use the extra dopamine … and the occasional distraction from the authentic earth.

I am likely to disconnect from the kinds that frequently drag me into dim holes of discourse. And try to tackle my to-do list right before I scroll (hey, I discovered time to generate this article).

I’m also going to be intentional about earning programs to see the folks I care about in man or woman, often. As a great deal as I really like the memes, that type of IRL connection just cannot be conquer.

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