“Are you sure you want to deactivate Instagram?” Yes.
That’s how it all started. I was a serial Instagrammer, Facebooker, and TikToker. If I wasn’t watching random calligraphy or cooking videos, I was laughing at my favorite TikTok comedian or a dank meme. And if I wasn’t doing those, I was being force-fed devastating world news, news of missing children, or learning which celebrity decided to say the N-word that today (Along with their insincere apology). According to my iPhone Screentime Analytics, these three apps took up most of my day, and I really didn’t have anything to show for it, other than the occasional laugh or the recipe I would probably never end up making.
And let’s not forget the mindless scrolling. And trust me, it was mindless. Literally, just something to do with my hands. As a solo diner, it was my favorite way to help with my social anxiety. Waiting for my car to get an oil change? Scroll. Sitting in the park? Scroll. Procrastinating on a homework assignment? Scroll. And I could do it for hours. A survey from Sprout Social concluded that “51% of [millennials] use social media to kill time,” not too far behind the social-savvy Gen Z, who uses it 66% of the time for the same reason.
Also, I’m a (very) private person. And it takes a lot for me to show someone my personality in full (#introvert). Social media started to feel like a way into Club Jayde and I didn’t want to give everyone a wristband. The people who made high school hard for me were the same ones trying to get me to accept their follow requests. Former suitors were sending me random “I’m so sorry” messages. And don’t me started on the unsolicited pictures. And the Facebook arguments — those dang Facebook arguments.
The constant flow of information, regardless of its purpose, eventually morphed from simply staying informed to sensory overload. I started having weird, sometimes violent, dreams. My eyes began to hurt. My headaches multiplied. My anxiety increased.
Until one day, I just quit. Cold turkey.
Say what you want about millennials, but we know how to put our mental health first. I was born in the…late 1900s. I remember life before social media. My days were spent writing up composition notebooks, doing cartwheels outside, drawing cartoons, or teaching myself to fight from Dragonball Z video games.
So, I just quit. Cold turkey. What started out as just a break turned into a full-on exodus.
The first to go was Instagram. I left my followers goodbye messages (Some of my close friends thought I was being kidnapped, lol.)
Then it was Facebook.
I was going to keep TikTok, but I deleted that a few days later.
I had my first Instagram relapse a few weeks later, but, oddly enough, I didn’t miss it at all after that. So I hit delete and that was the end of the era.
And honestly? I was kinda bored (at first). But here’s what I’ve been up to instead.
DuoLingo. A personal goal of mine is to become a polyglot. I love to travel. I love languages. So, it’s only right. I’ve been conversational in Spanish for quite some time (Quiero escribir este artículo en español, pero necesito mucho practicar más!), but I figured it was time to become fluent. I’m currently on a 30-day learning streak, and I can’t wait to see where the app takes me. I’ve also begun to learn Russian.
Reading for pleasure. Every former English major has a bookshelf full of books they haven’t even read. Though I don’t consider myself a voracious reader, I am a writer who has favorite writers. Currently, I’m reading Sonali Dev’s Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, along with Susan Cain’s iconic Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Next on my list is Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood by Melissa Hart (Fun Fact: She was my thesis professor!)
Rollerskating. A huge part of Atlanta culture is learning to move on four wheels, but I have been skating since my days in south Georgia. I recently purchased two pairs of rollerskates and made my way to the always-empty tennis court in my neighborhood, to see if I still had my skills. (I do.)
Sketching. During a day trip to Midtown Atlanta, I stumbled into Blick Art Supply to stock up on everything a former sketch artist needed. Premium colored pencils. Graphite. Tortillons. A sketch pad. Erasers. Sharpeners. And a holder to carry it all. After a quick bite, I found a spot in Piedmont Park and began to sketch the first thing that came to mind: my favorite anime.
Finishing my first novel. And now to my greatest achievement: I finished a full draft of my first novel. 54,073 words. 243 pages. And plenty of constructive criticism along the way. Finishing this completes my MFA coursework & a dream long deferred. I still have plenty of edits to make, agents to source, publishers to find, and rejection letters to receive, but after a short break, I’m looking forward to adding “Published Author” to my repertoire.
Now, for the big question: Will I make a return? Eh, probably. But they say adulthood is just returning to the things you enjoyed in your childhood and I very much enjoyed being an anti-social butterfly.