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Why a Social Media "Cleanse" Didn't Help Me

A lot of people (myself included, at one point) have endorsed the idea of taking a break from social media, or a “cleanse” as many people call it. For the month of August, I deleted all of my social media (with the exception of Snapchat). I got rid of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr for the whole month.

Let me start by saying there wasn’t a particular reason I was doing this. I wasn’t feeling insecure or discouraged. I simply didn’t want to be on my phone all day. I wanted to try to be more productive. Long story short, that didn’t happen. Actually, I think it made me more unproductive.

I used to spend a lot of my time at home on social media. I would come home from work, eat a quick dinner, watch some Youtube videos, and spend the rest of the night rotating between apps. I didn’t think it was a productive use of my time. If social media was the distraction, I would simply remove social media, therefore removing the distraction. Right? Egh, not so much.

It turns out, I am unmotivated for other reasons. I thought that when I removed social media, I would read more, I would write more, I would be more engaged with my day-to-day life. I didn’t do any of that. In fact, the dead opposites where true.

I’m still not quite sure what is messing with my motivation—but its not social media. And for that, this was a positive exercise. I removed one factor, determined that it was not the root issue, so I can introduce it and remove another factor. I think the real problem was that I expected this to fix my issue, no questions asked. The way people talk about social media, it is an evil source of insecurity and drama and strife. I don’t find that to be true.

My Instagram is full of inspiration messages about being a bad ass, being an entrepreneur, about taking control of your life. My Twitter feed is almost exclusively other authors who are reliable and inspiring. My Facebook is how I stay in touch with my family, letting them know what I’m working on and celebrating life events together.

I don’t think social media cleanses work the same way for everyone, because nothing really does. I re-downloaded Instagram within about two weeks because I genuinely missed the encouraging messages from the accounts I followed. They were things that got me through the day and inspired me, and they were the first thing that I missed.

I’m writing this on August 25th, and so far, Instagram is the only app I have re-downloaded, but I am counting down the days until I can download Twitter again. Twitter is my main source of contact with the writing community, and I miss having that kind of support.

Facebook and Tumblr I honestly think I could do without, but with one of my goals being building my audience, Facebook is not something I can ignore at this point.

Having done this, I do see the value in it. Its nice to disconnect, to an extent, from the world. That being said, I think removing social media solves a very specific problem, and its not the problem I was having. It’s nice to know that I can, in fact, survive without checking Twitter every three hours, but its not something I feel that I need to do again. No matter what the grumpy old people say, I enjoy my social media, and its not rotting my brain. In fact, its inspiring me to keep my business running and to work harder.

What do you think, are social media cleanses a necessary evil, or are you like me, and we can pry Twitter from your cold dead hands?

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